A Spike Lee Film +
Having spent hours writing about Death Wish and Godard, I decided not to move on to another film by a different director when I couldn’t make my copy of Alphaville play.
Instead, I watched a film Spike Lee directed in 2015 with Josh Brolin called Oldboy.
It’s remarkable to see the development, for better or worse, of this American filmmaker. I saw his first five or six films in theatres in Australia. I made a point to follow this man’s career after seeing Do the Right Thing. That’s edge of your seat filmmaking. It’s like when some character in some film has a martini made and asks the bartender to pass the cork of the vermouth over the martini signifying that’s enough vermouth.
Low budget filmmaking is like that. If you’ve got film in the camera, actors and a director and a script, the waft of vermouth can be the presence of something special that makes a martini a martini. For Spike Lee, I think the vermouth was his personality but by the time I got to Inside Man and now Oldboy it seems like he’s an American filmmaking who has lost the smell of the vermouth. It’s a good film. It’s well-made but I wouldn’t have guessed it was a Spike Le film, because Spike Lee’s sensibility isn’t apparent. There’s no forty acres and there’s no mule.
Early Spike Lee films had a sense of accepting that some blacks pass for white while underlining the need for African Americans (blacks/negroes/colored people) to stand up for their rights if they want to have recognition for the value of their opinion. It reminds me of a Jacqueline Biss film I saw which had a title that I remember as stand Up and be Counted, which was about the same kind of issue, but to do with women’s rights.
Oldboy seems very generic and I don’t see Spike Lee in it although I wouldn’t say that every filmmaker has to make his civil or political beliefs obvious in all films.
I found this to be a peculiar film and enjoyed its crazy style and Josh Brolin’s performance. The pay-off wasn’t sufficiently head-turning to make the twenty years of jail a ‘completely understandable’ response to the villain’s horrible experience.