Review: Red Hook Summer
Red Hook Summer tells the story of Flik Royale, a sullen young boy from middle-class Atlanta who has come to spend the summer with his deeply religious grandfather, Bishop Enoch Rouse, in the housing projects of Red Hook. Having never met before, things quickly get off on the wrong foot as Bishop Enoch relentlessly attempts to convert Flik into a follower of Jesus Christ. Between his grandfather’s constant preaching and the culture shock of inner-city life, Flik’s summer appears to be a total disaster - until he meets Chazz Morningstar, a pretty girl his age, who shows Flik the brighter side of Brooklyn. Through her love and the love of his grandfather, Flik begins to realize that the world is a lot bigger, and perhaps a lot better, than he’d ever imagined.
There are good parts and bad parts about this film. When Lee preaches in Red Hook Summer, the movie bumps along, even though it’s reasonably entertaining. But when he decides to teach us about the human heart, it becomes an experience. Spike Lee, for me, has maybe lost his touch in terms of storytelling. His films aren’t as special as previous efforts such as Malcolm X, She’s Gotta Have It and his timeless masterpiece, Do The Right Thing. But that’s not to say Lee isn’t an important filmmaker anymore. Even if his storytelling skills have slightly left him behind, his ability to unveil the truth in modern day societies is still there and possibly stronger than most directors around. You only have to look at his documentaries, the Oscar nominated 4 Little Girls and When The Levees Broke, to see Spike Lee is a important filmmaker still, even if his skills are now best suited to documentary filmmaking. Red Hook Summer is an enjoyable watch and clear to see a lot of love and appreciation has gone into this film. It comes across as love letter from Lee to his home, from a time when he himself moved from Atlanta to New York as a young adult, although under different circumstances. It may not have the same social impact that some of Lee’s previous Brooklyn films have, but it’s definitely worth a view.
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