I’ve sung the praises of Spike Lee’s dramatically misunderstood Red Hook Summer, which I saw at Sundance, before, but now we’ve got a trailer, which gives you some small sense of why the movie, which follows a boy named Flik over the summer he spends with his preacher grandfather, is so excellent:
A lot of what makes Red Hook Summer excellent is the way it incorporates politics into its characters’ conversations, and how its plot points grow out of realistic political and economic issues. Characters talk about unemployment because they, and people they know, are unemployed, and about the pollution caused by docking cruise ships in Brooklyn because their health is affected by it. And Lee draws drama less from emotional contrivance than from the politics of life in gentrifying neighborhoods. Flik and Chazz, a girl who attends Flik’s grandfather’s church, have an ongoing, pranky war with a white woman who has moved into Red Hook and gets hysterically angry when they write their names in the concrete in front of her steps. The cost of Chazz’s asthma medication and the fact that she loses expensive inhalers provokes one of the movie’s dramatic climaxes. Hollywood characters often live in a world that is mysteriously untouched by political systems, economics, bureaucracies, and environmental issues. Spike Lee’s characters actually live in the world.