Tuesday, 17 February 2015


Spike Lee looks to his past in order to look to his future in Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, a delightfully dense work of experimentation. He sets out to expand his artistic vocabulary within the broad confines of a narrow concept, thus re-imagining what he is capable of achieving as a director who'd perhaps become too secure in his style. Lee only expands superficially upon his already exhaustive discourse on American culture, but does so with a new, profound vigour and sense of inquisitiveness. It's as though he no longer considers certainty to be satisfactory - lines of dialogue question one another, visual elements contradict, even within the same frame or shot, the very purpose of the film itself is in flux, pointedly refusing to resolve in the closing scene. Such is the power of this formal, stylistic cleanse that Lee's less successful ideas can be dismissed in hindsight, and actually appreciated in the moment, their gaucheness a typically feckless act of abrasion, as Lee reminds us that he's been setting his own rules for decades now. He returns to roots of his that predate even his earliest features for this callous, defiantly rough-edged educational film, and lets it be known, definitively, that he couldn't care less whether or not the white cultural elite cares for his personal appropriation of the black cultural standards on which he riffs. Da Sweet Blood of Jesus is a strange, imperfect, often infuriating film; it's also one of cinema's most radical theses on its own structures and natures in years.