Saturday, 16 January 2016

REVIEW - CHI-RAQ (SPIKE LEE)


Mark my words: some decades from now - and, indeed, it'll likely take decades - we will look back at this period of Spike Lee's career as one of such importance and inspiration, it's matched only by that period 20 years ago, back when he was hailed as the talent we soon forgot he was. Nobody else could have made a movie like Chi-Raq; I doubt anybody else will ever try, but as much as this movie is a lesson in community politics, it's equally a lesson in moviemaking. Dialogue spoken in verse, movement choreographed in dance, and every sofa or sidewalk a stage - artifice amplified to draw attention to itself, as these most attention-seeking figures turn theirs to the things that matter most, at long last. Lee choreographs his whole film, crafting strong, unsubtle statements with every deliberate gesture and elaborate line, emphasising his statements with the force of his delivery and the purity of its application. You can't miss what he says in Chi-Raq, as the film is designed to refuse one's mind the opportunity to miss. That such blatant, brilliant polemicising is achieved with such artistry is testament to Lee's faith in its very validity, his assertion that the right sentiments will engender the right approach, and thereby the right response. And no-one fails to meet these lofty standards: Teyonah Parris is dazzling in the lead role and ably backed by a fantastic ensemble, Angela Bassett another (expected) standout; Ruth E. Carter's costumes are as stylish and as thematically resonant as ever; the soundtrack, featuring several excellent original songs and a great score by Terence Blanchard, is an invaluable component to this emotive, intelligent modern political masterpiece.