Chi-Raq (2015)

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Full of life and stylisitc vigour, Chi-Raq is the most eye-popping display of Spike Lee’s passions in years. That being said, it still suffers from the same problems that weigh down most films in his filmography. It feels over-stuffed and poorly paced. By the end it is reminiscent of a big technicolor blur that is tricky to recall. Either way, I’m a huge fan of Lee and his ambitions. His reach almost always exceeds his grasp but damn, at least somebody is still reaching. To make a movie this politically charged and urgent with rhyming dialogue and the scope of a big-band musical is pretty amazing!

Teyonah Parris turns in a gob-smacking, star-making role as Lysistrata. Not only is she the sexiest damn woman you’ve seen on any screen in 2015 but she steals the movie from everybody who shares it with her. This is her movie as much as it’s Spike’s and I just wish her name was being tossed around more this Awards season. To make a movie that paints in such bold strokes and takes such stylistic gambles, you need a truly great actress to anchor it on and Parris keeps the whole thing ablaze.

I couldn’t be happier that this movie is connecting with so many people and getting a level of praise which has evaded Lee for over a decade. Just when we wondered if Spike Lee was still relevant, he shut all our asses down with a big stick of TNT. I wonder how well the film will hold up in a few years time as it’s power comes with how timely the message is. It’s messy, often frustrating and sometimes plain bemusing, but there are so many great individual sequences, faces and performances that you can’t ignore it. Say what you will about Chi-Raq but it doesn’t look or sound like any other movie made in the last 12 months. Unmistakably A SPIKE LEE JOINT!

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