Watch the Trailer for Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
June 28 2012 1:46 PM

Trailer Critic: Red Hook Summer

Clarke Peters in Red Hook Summer
Clarke Peters plays Bishop Enoch Rouse in Red Hook Summer.

Still from the trailer for Red Hook Summer.

After filming an extended documentary in New Orleans, a war movie in Italy, and a heist film around Wall Street, Spike Lee is returning to his roots in Brooklyn. In Red Hook Summer, Lee has written and directed a coming-of-age movie about a mohawked young Atlantan named Flik Royale (played by Jules Brown) who spends a summer with his zealous father, Bishop Enoch Rouse (played by the great Clarke Peters, who readers may recognize as Lester Freamon from The Wire).

Lee might not be the only one who’s been longing for his past. Many of Lee’s best films, including his first feature She’s Gotta Have It, his semi-autobiographical film Crooklyn, and of course his masterpiece Do the Right Thing, take place among the heat of long Brooklyn summers, and after a spotty run of recent efforts, many Lee fans may be happy to see him returning to the subject—this time in the waterfront neighborhood of Red Hook.

While Red Hook Summer is set in the present (note all the Apple products), it, too, seems set on evoking nostalgia. In addition to the coming-of-age themes of struggles against father figures, finding first love, and venturing out of the home for the first time (Lee, like the protagonist, moved from Atlanta to Brooklyn as a child), the trailer intercuts washed-out images from 8mm cameras to further evince a sense of nostalgia. Interspersed among these shots we get a lengthy CV of some of the best movies Lee has created (Lee is listed not as their writer and director but their “creator”).

In addition to what looks like a winning performance from Peters, the film’s vivid sense of place—perhaps unsurprisingly, given the title—seems like its biggest selling point. Lee has struggled lately to get funding, which is yet another reminder of the sad state of contemporary Hollywood; he financed Red Hook himself. But while you might guess at Red Hook’s relatively low budget from this footage, that’s not a bad thing—She’s Gotta Have It was filmed for even less, and both that film and this one seem to benefit from cheap on-location cinematography, which in this case may have prompted Lee to retool his well-established style. I, for one, can’t wait to trip over to Red Hook.

Grade: B+

Previously from the Trailer Critic
Anna Karenina
Les Misérables
The Great Gatsby
James Bond in Skyfall
Gangster Squad
Lawless
Ben Affleck's Argo
Bill Murray as FDR in Hyde Park on Hudson
Beasts of the Southern Wild

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

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