Spike Lee

Criterion Files

The Criterion Collection’s motto makes explicit its devotion to “important classic and contemporary films,” but it’s also clear that the Collection has dedicated itself to the careers of a select group of important classic and contemporary directors. Several prestigious directors have a prominent portion of their careers represented by the collection. Between the Criterion spine numbers and Eclipse box sets, 21 Ingmar Bergman films are represented (and multiple versions of two of these films), ranging from his 1940s work to Fanny and Alexander (and 3 documentaries about him). 26 Akira Kurosawa films have been given the Criterion/Eclipse treatment, and Yashujiro Ozu has 17 films in the collection. Though many factors go into forming the collection, including the ever-shifting issue of rights and ownership over certain titles, it’s hard to argue against the criticism (or, perhaps more accurately, obvious observation) that the films in the Collection represent certain preferences of taste which makes its omissions suspect and its occasionally-puzzling choices fodder for investigation or too predictable to be interesting (two Kurosawa Eclipse sets?). And while the Collection has recently upped its game on the “contemporary” portion of its claim by highlighting modern-day masterpieces like Olivier Assayas’s Carlos and Andrew Haigh’s Weekend, for the most part attempts at forming a complete directorial filmography via within the Collection has typically been reserved for directors whose filmographies have completed. Except, of course, for the case of Wes Anderson.

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In his review of Mean Streets, Roger Ebert claimed that Martin Scorsese had the potential to become the American Fellini in ten years. It probably didn’t really take that long. Scorsese is a living library of film, but he isn’t a dusty repository of knowledge. He’s a vibrant, imaginative creator who might know more about movies than anyone else on the planet, and that makes him uniquely qualified to be both prolific and proficient. Over the course of his career, he’s created indelible works bursting with anger, violence, fragility, care, and wonder. Never content to stick with one story mode, he’s run the gamut of styles and substance. So here’s a free bit of film school (for filmmakers and fans alike) from our American Fellini.

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Deadline Hawthorne reports that, after weeks of speculation, Spike Lee‘s Oldboy has finally signed an interesting pick to play the film’s central villain. Sharlto Copley was the latest name rumored for the role just last month, but after rounds and rounds of unsuccessful casting for all three major roles in the film, it seemed like the project was a bit doomed. But now that Copley is officially set for the part, and costars Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen remain locked in, the film is set to start filming in late September. Like Park Chan-wook’s 2003 film, Oldboy centers on Brolin’s character (in this incarnation, he is reportedly named “Joe Douchett”), a man who has been imprisoned against his will by an unknown man. Eventually freed, he’s set on a course to find the man who put him there (and to discover why) – Copley will play “Adrian Pryce,” “a mysterious billionaire trying to destroy the life of Joe Douchett.” But until Oldboy kicks off, Copley is busying himself with another high concept role, this time as a potential hero.

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What is Movie News After Dark? Usually it’s just a nightly column dedicated to the best news and links from around the movie blogosphere. Tonight it comes with a disclaimer: Its author has just returned from a bender of Pixar films and is in the midst of a Marvel films marathon as he writes this. This sort of situation may cause over-zealous Avengers coverage, animated goofiness and spontaneous, uncontrollable bouts of crying — that is, if the score from UP comes on. Be prepared. We begin tonight with an awesome image of Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Bruce Lee in 1978 courtesy of the Tumblr blog of film critic Shawn Levy. Beyond being an exceptionally nice guy, Levy also has a taste for the moving pictures and the icons of said medium. This shot, in my opinion, is certified awesome.

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Please let this one work out. Variety reports that Sharlto Copley has been offered the villain role in Spike Lee‘s take on Oldboy, a piece of casting so inventive and unexpected that I’ve gone a bit cross-eyed over it. Lee’s remake/reimagining of Chan-wook Park’s film (itself based on the manga by Nobuaki Minegishi and Garon Tsuchiya) has been plagued by great pieces of possible casting that have not panned out – from Colin Firth not taking on the baddie role to Rooney Mara sliding out on the female lead – so it’s high time someone outstanding signs on and gets this thing moving. Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen are already on board for the film, with Brolin taking on the role that Choi Min-sik played in the South Korean version – a seemingly regular man who is kidnapped and kept in a single room for fifteen years. Eventually freed, he then embarks on a quest to find out who is responsible and why they did it – which, of course, plays right into the mastermind’s plan. Olsen’s role is that of a caseworker who works with Brolin to uncover the past, a twist on Kang Hye-jeong’s role as Mi-Do in the original film, who is a young sushi chef (who still helps out with that nasty past-uncovering).

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New York in the summer is intense enough with the heat and humidity that bears down on the city from June to August, but if you are a kid from an upper middle class Atlanta neighborhood suddenly dropped into the Brooklyn projects, summer gets a lot more than intense, and quick. Flick (Jules Brown) is sent to live with his incredibly religious grandfather, Bishop Enoch Rouse (Clarke Peters), who lives in Red Hook, a neighborhood plagued by poverty, gangs and colorful characters (including a well-known pizza delivery boy from another Spike Lee film). Flick is combative towards his grandfather from the start, clearly unhappy about being forced to spend his summer away from home. Bishop Enoch tries to get Flick involved with his church, convinced that if Flick lets Jesus into his life, he will be much happier. Flick resents being made to work during his vacation, but when he meets fellow church member Chazz (Toni Lysaith) his attitude towards helping out and attending Sunday sermons softens a bit.

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Last week, the 2012 Sundance Film Festival announced their first wave of programming, featuring twenty-six titles that will be screening in competition. They followed that with the announcement of their Spotlight, Next, Park City at Midnight, and New Frontiers films. It was two days of absolute madness and glee, and the festival sagely waited a few days, giving us the buffer of a weekend to catch our collective breath, before breaking out the big guns. The Premiere and Documentary Premieres. That’s a bit clunky – so the Premieres! The Premieres are here! Per usual, here’s a list of films that immediately jump out at me: Julie Delpy’s follow-up to 2 Days in Paris, the Delpy and Chris Rock-starring 2 Days in New York, Nicholas Jarecki’s Abritrage (which stars one of last year’s break-out stars, Brit Marling, in her fist big-time feature role), Lee Toland Krieger’s Celeste and Jesse Forever (which stars co-writer Rashida Jones), Stephen Frears’ Lay the Favorite, Josh Radnor’s second film Liberal Arts (also starring one of last year’s big stars, Elizabeth Olsen), Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer, Stacy Peralta’s Bones Brigade: An Autobiography, and Amy Berg’s West of Memphis. Check out the full list of Sundance Film Festival Premiere picks after the break.

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At this point, you’d have to be insane to not trust an Oldboy rumor that comes from Twitch, as those wily boys have single-handedly dropped all the big news when it comes to Spike Lee‘s English-language remake of  Park Chan-wook‘s masterpiece. And this latest piece of casting news that they’re reporting? I’m not afraid to admit that I think it’s interesting and somehow both bold and spot-on. The Twitch-ers are reporting that Colin Firth has been offered the role of Adrian, a role that functions as the Woo-jin part from Park’s film – better known as the primary villain of the film. Firth would face off against Josh Brolin, who has long been attached as the film’s lead (the Oh Dae-su of Lee’s take on the material). While Firth was first known to most American audiences for his fluffier work in films like the Bridget Jones’s Diary films and the ever-charming Love Actually, he’s lately taken on considerably meatier roles, particularly his Oscar-nominated work in A Single Man and his Oscar-winning role in last year’s The King’s Speech. A true villain’s role in Oldboy would be a compelling addition to his resume, and one I’d cut out my own tongue to see.

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In 1989, a young director named Spike Lee, who had just a couple of films under his belt, put himself permanently on the map with an indie ensemble piece called Do the Right Thing. In 1991, a revered horror director named Wes Craven whose career was starting to look like it was in need of revival put out a haunted house film with a twist called The People Under the Stairs. One film ignited a firestorm of debate and garnered mounds of attention, rocketing its director into the stratosphere. The other came and went with nary a whimper and probably helped play into the “Wes Craven is back!” sentiment that ran rampant when he put out Scream in 1996. Is Do the Right Thing really that much better of a film than The People Under the Stairs, or is this just a case of right subject matter, right time?

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A year ago, John Boyega was a name that nobody knew. And, okay, it’s probably still a name that a lot of people aren’t familiar with. But if the hype he’s been getting from film critics for his starring role in this summer’s Attack the Block is any indication, Boyega won’t be able to enjoy anonymity for very much longer. Attack the Block director Joe Cornish found Boyega performing in a small stage show in London and cast him in his hoods versus aliens monster movie based on that. One to take his work seriously, first-time film actor Boyega then took to studying season 4 of The Wire to get a handle on how to approach playing an urban youth, and brought reality to the character of Moses, in a performance that felt genuine and raw even when there was tons of alien monster insanity going on around it. Suddenly, it looks like the mess of film critics who have been pimping for Attack the Block all summer aren’t the only ones who noticed the work Boyega put in, because THR is reporting that Spike Lee has taken notice of the young actor and cast him as the lead of his HBO dramatic series Da Brick. Da Brick is about a young man from Newark, New Jersey (Brick City) who, upon being released from juvenile detention on his 18thbirthday, must traverse the harsh environment of his hometown and learn what it takes to be a man, with a little bit of […]

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In 2003, director Park Chan-wook made his presence in the film world felt by crafting Oldboy, a revenge film about a guy who is mysteriously imprisoned in a shabby room for fifteen years and then is one day released and given a limited amount of time to find and take vengeance on his captor. It rose above the legions of other rank and file revenge films through superior crafting and a great lead performance by Min-sik Choi. It was good, everyone liked it, and people were happy. Flash forward to recent months, and now there’s news that Spike Lee is going to direct a movie called Oldboy, a revenge film about a man who gets locked in a shabby room for fifteen years and is then one day released and given a limited amount of time to find and take vengeance on his captor. We don’t know if it’s going to be any good, everyone is mad that something else they like is being remade, and no one is happy. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration. Maybe some people are happy. And maybe I could be coming around on this project as well, because at the very least Lee has just found a great actor to play whatever his version of the Oldboy protagonist will be called. It’s been a rumor for a while that Josh Brolin was at the top of the wish list to star in this film, and now Deadline Ami-dong confirms that those rumors were most likely […]

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we wave our wands goodbye to Harry Potter as he and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 check into theaters for the last time this weekend. We speak with “One Fine Potion: The Literary Magic of Harry Potter” author Dr. Greg Garrett to try to unravel the wizard’s cultural (and spiritual) impact, we get a few fond memories from major Potter fans, and we review the film. Plus, Hunter and Fure finally square off in a Movie News Pop Quiz that will be written about in books for at least three to four days. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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News about an Oldboy remake has circulated so long that there’s a shoulder-high pile of salt sitting behind every new bit of information. The newest bit is that Mandate Pictures wants the world to know that they’ve hired Spike Lee to direct the film. This is just strange enough to work. If we believe that remakes have to follow the original enough to earn the title while offering something new, choosing a director like Lee is a good choice because there’s no way he’ll be anywhere near the wheelhouse of Park Chan-wook. Still, it’s unclear what kind of movie Lee will create or what of his previous work specifically qualifies him for an odd revenge flick, although he handled quiet drama really well in 25th Hour. It’s tough to know what this beast will be born as, and that’s exciting in its own way. If it has to happen, at least some surprising choices are being made. Plus, in a world where Will Smith and Steven Spielberg almost had their hands on this thing, I’ll take Spike Lee any day. Now when are we going to start seeing more rumors about Charlize Theron in a Lady Vengeance remake?

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Remember that remake of Park Chan-Wook’s Oldboy that nobody wanted whether it was a remake of the movie, or an adaptation of the original source material, or whatever? It was supposed to be dead, but Rob Hunter knew that the evil would come back in another form. Despite the fact that nobody in the world thinks a Hollywood production of any version of Oldboy whatsoever is a good idea, it is a dream that won’t die. Sure, it will no longer have Will Smith and Steven Spielberg bringing it to life, but it may have found a new director to champion its cause. Twitch is reporting that Spike Lee has entered negotiations to direct the long gestating project, with Mark Protosevich of Thor and I Am Legend set to write the screenplay. I think the idea of Spike Lee tackling the gore splattered revenge roots of this property is a heck of a lot less scary than Spielberg and Smith trying it on, but does Lee’s name make this a project that anybody is now looking forward to happening? I’m no Spike Lee fan, so I probably have no room to speak on the matter. I hate this idea. But there are a lot of fans of Lee’s work out there. Do any of you overlap into being fans of Oldboy as well? Will there be a group of fans willing to stand up and champion this project against the wave of negative reaction it’s gotten so far? Choose a […]

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. This trailer knows where it came from. Denzel Washington turns in a powerful performance as the most famous civil rights leader with a letter for a last name. In Spike Lee’s best film, a man rises up as a follower to become a leader, telling people that it’s time to stand up. Think you know what it is? Check out the trailer after the jump.

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Ramin_Bahrani

The man who Ebert has called the “next great American filmmaker” took some time out of a busy schedule to talk about his latest movie, Goodbye Solo, the importance of showing the bad parts of life, and a giant pile of trash floating around in the Pacific.

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In our third Porn Week feature, Adam Sweeney digs through a brief modern history of porn stars showing up in mainstream films to play off their pornstardom. Did you know Ron Jeremy was in Ronin? We did, too.

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MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA

I know that it is already out in theaters, but the folks at Disney just sent us four clips from the film, so we thought it might not be a bad idea to share them as part of this afternoon’s slew of posts.

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Miracle at St. Anna

I feel sorry for Spike Lee. He is, after all, a tremendously talented filmmaker. However, his personal issues, political views and overbearing ego gets in the way of making a good movie.

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Miracle at St. Anna: Just Say No, Kid

The 166-minute running time might make you feel like a soldier in wartime. During and after a war, fellow soldiers often bond over a few drinks.

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