No Frills For Spike Lee

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The 50th San Francisco International Film Festival honored Spike Lee last night with the SF Film Society’s Directing Award, and praised Lee as a prolific director not afraid to tackle not just race, but also class and gender issues in his films.

Lee’s personality – humorous and political, honest and deadpan – was on full display during his Q&A with Boston Globe film critic Wesley Morris in San Francisco.

Lee was a tough interview. Wearing his trademark thick-rimmed glasses, his brief and somewhat reluctant responses often left interviewer Morris grasping at straws. Lee chose his words wisely. He playfully teased Morris. He recognized the larger race issues behind the Don Imus incident, and affirmed for audience members that the people of New Orleans are still hurting. He also joked that his wife, who reads all of his scripts, has been influential in changing the depiction of women – a common point of criticism – in his films.

The audience was treated to a montage, featuring clips from the biggies – aka Spike Lee Joints: She’s Gotta Have It (1986), Do the Right Thing (1989), Mo’ Better Blues (1990), Jungle Fever (1991), Malcolm X (1992), Clockers (1995), Four Little Girls (1997), Summer of Sam (1999), 25th Hour (2002), and Inside Man (2006). Lee’s latest is the award-winning When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, and judging by the two acts shown at the event, is not to be missed.

—Gary Moskowitz

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