Red Hook Summer Reviews
It's another coming-of-age fish out of water type story, and, while it's nothing all that new, it has some nice ideas and potential behind it.
The main problems are the execution (I wasn't all that enamored by the hand-held digital camera work), and a late plot development that comes basically out of nowhere and pretty much derails tings. Also, the acting (especially by the young actors) is pretty bad. I get that Lee was going for a more naturalistic style with their performances, but unlike Gus Van Sant, he can't pull it off. The performance by Clarke Peters as the grandfather is actually pretty good though, and easily the strongest part of the movie.
I did like the humor, and, as I said, some of the ideas, but ultimately this one falls pretty flat. I did enjoy the world they tried to build here though, and it was also pretty cool seeing Spike briefly bring back his Do The Right Thing character Mookie.
All in all, a largely 'meh' kind of movie. It's got Lee's trademark flair all over it, just not the energy or memorability.
Even with a shocking third act plot twist that is more Old Testament than New Testament, "Red Hook Summer" is more often than not an evocative look at a boy's expanding his boundaries, both physically and mentally. And a very good performance from Clarke Peters certainly helps matters. But like with other of his recent movies, Spike Lee has a lot easier time with what he wants to say, than in how he says it which is usually just as important, even with the occasional directorial flourish.(It should come as no surprise how little difference there is between a rant and a sermon.) An example of this is on the subject of gentrification as the neighborhood of Red Hook does not come alive on screen like it should have.
A young boy from Atlanta is dropped off in New York with his minister grandfather. His grandfather is also from Atlanta but some years ago he came to a church in Brooklyn that has quickly run down and is desperate for money. The grandfather hopes to one day land a benefactor that will help him with his bills. Meanwhile, the young boy becomes best friend with the daughter of a member of the church. The member of the church has feelings for the grandfather, causing fascinating interactions between the four characters.
"You're right, I don't like you...I love you."
Spike Lee, director of X, School Daze, Do the Right Thing, Inside Man, She Hate Me, Girl 6, Clockers, Jungle Fever, and She's Gotta Have It, delivers Red Hook Summer. The storyline for this picture is fascinating and starts with a wonderful coming of age story with interesting character development. The movie takes an interesting twist at the end and then ends abruptly. The acting is very good and the cast includes Jules Brown, Turron Kofi Alleyne, De'Adre Aziza, Jonathan Batiste, Sumayya Ali, and Limary Agosto.
"You molested me!"
I've actually always wanted to see this film but never got around to watching it. I found it on Netflix and finally viewed this picture and it was better and deeper than I anticipated. Lee continues to deliver an amazing New York feel throughout the movie while delivering a clever plot twist. I would have given this a ten if it had a better ending. This is definitely worth a viewing.
"Hell to the naw."