|06.20.20||Internet|| So Da 5 Bloods is getting good reviews. I don't really see it, so I thought I'd watch another Spike Lee movie that got universally good reviews to see if I'm missing something or what.|
Goddamn this movie is powerful. I don't know if it's just the state of the news making things much more prescient but much of this movie is hard to watch. I don't know why, whether it was the trailer or what, but I kinda sorta thought this was going to be, like, half comedy? Heh. Instead, the hate-speech and racism are played completely straight, illustrating how prevalent it was. Chilling really. I was reminded of that HBO doc in the 90s about the neo-nazi camp and, of course, American History X.
Probably the best scene is Harry Belafonte's monologue intercut with the KKK initiation ceremony followed by a screening of Birth of a Nation. The character of the crazy guy's wife is perhaps most affecting... you'd think the completely over the top racism would sound false or too ridiculous to be real, but she sold it for me as also being one of those people who get WAY too into movies.
Birth of a Nation is its own problematic case and maybe a great representation of American History in the context of cinema. The movie is credited as being the first blockbuster, the first "real" movie, a paragon of film-making and the best example of all the things D.W. Griffith brought to the craft. It's taught in film schools, I saw it in a classroom, but it's true that the KKK are the heroes of the story. So it's more than the case of Citizen Kane where the story is much more boring than the craft, Birth of a Nation is actually offensive and reprehensible today. So do you admire it for its historical importance? Or denounce it for its antiquated message? I'm not sure why it can't be both, but I'm in no hurry to keep a poster of it on my wall, or raise a statue or name a city after it etc., etc.
So this scene where one group is chomping popcorn and applauding while another group listens in horror as they hear about its effect on America is particularly rich and layered.
My one complaint, which is tiny, is that Terence Blanchard's score is mixed a little high. It kind of takes over every scene when it kicks in, makes it feel like a montage or something.
So... I don't know what's going on with Da 5 Bloods, because it isn't good but this is.