Spike Lee’s new film “Red Hook Summer” hits theaters on Friday. The latest installment from his “Chronicles of Brooklyn,” it follows previous releases “She’s Gotta Have It,” “Do The Right Thing,” “Crooklyn,” “Clockers” and “He Got Game.”
We love Spike Lee. A supporter of his work since “She’s Gotta Have It,” The Museum of UnCut Funk had the fortune to talk to him about his new film “Red Hook Summer.” Like “She’s Gotta Have It,” Spike released “Red Hook Summer” independently. Long time supporters of Spike will appreciate Tracy Camilla Johns’ return to the 40 Acres and a Mule set as “Mother Darling.” “I found her,” Spike told us at the junket today for his new movie. “This time she’s portraying a Jehovah’s Witness,” says Lee, quite the polar opposite of her character “Nola Darling” of “She’s Gotta Have It.”
The interview above features Lee along with the movie’s stars Jules Brown and Toni Lysaith. The three of them shared their ‘Red Hook’ journey with us. Lee talks about issues depicted in the movie in our interview, as well as his own feelings about religion; gun violence; his forthcoming Michael Jackson documentary; the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets; black cinema yesterday and today; his Broadway show with Mike Tyson; and his next film “Old Boy.” Child stars Jules and Toni, told us how it was working with one of the greatest directors of our time, and their co-stars Clarke Peters and Heather Alicia Simms. Spike also shares with us where he discovered his new talent.
“Red Hook Summer” also stars Clarke Peters, Nate Parker, James Ransone, Thomas Jefferson Byrd, Heather Alicia Simms and introduces child stars Jules Brown and Toni Lysaith as “Flick” and “Chazz,” respectively. Peters portrays “Da Good Bishop Enoch Rouse.” Peters is probably best known for his role as “Detective Lester Freamon” from the HBO show “The Wire.” He also plays “Albert Lambreaux” on the HBO series “Treme,” and appeared as “Fat Curt” in the show “The Corner.” Film buffs will recognize him from the cult classic “Mona Lisa,” in which he starred opposite Bob Hoskins and Michael Caine. A trained theatre actor, he’s also appeared in the movies “Marley & Me,” “Notting Hill,” “Gigantic,” “K-Pax” and “Head of State,” with Chris Rock. The newcomers Jules Brown and Toni Lysaith dominate the film. A “coming of age” story, Brown’s character “Flick” is visiting his grandfather in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn for the summer from Atlanta. This dynamic parallels Lee’s character “Troy” from “Crooklyn,” as children visiting relatives up north or down south for the summer, has been a tradition of African-American culture since “The Great Migration.” We watch Flick and Chazz’s relationship grow as Flick’s character evolves, and unsettling truths are brought to light.
Parker portrays Blood gang member “Box,” who is somewhat of a nemesis for Bishop Enoch. Nate is an actor on the rise, as he’s had roles in the films “Red Tails,” “The Great Debaters” and “The Secret Life of Bees,” to name a few. Thomas Byrd who becomes “Deacon Zee” in ‘Red Hook,’ has taken on roles in Spike’s films ever since “Clockers.” Appearing in “Girl 6,” “Get on the Bus,” “He Got Game” and “Bamboozled” as “Honeycutt.” Veteran actress Heather Alicia Simms is “Sister Sharon Morningstar” as the mother of Chazz. She also appeared in Rock’s “Head of State,” as well as the films “Broken Flowers” and “The Nanny Diaries.” Lee himself appears in ‘Red Hook’ as “Mookie,” a character from his Oscar nominated opus “Do The Right Thing.” Spike addresses the issues of pollution, hypocrisy masked in religion and how technology can be dangerously consuming, while (as always) presenting controversial topics for discussion that are usually taboo. Lee never fails to depict aspects of reality in need of conversation, whether society or film critics like it or not — and that’s why we love him. In short, Spike fans will not be disappointed with the new Spike Lee Joint! In our interview with stars Clarke Peters and Nate Parker, the respective veteran and rising star, talk about the genius of Spike Lee and their roles in his new release.
Spike’s other feature films include: “Miracle at St. Anna,” “Inside Man,” “She Hate Me,” “25th Hour,” “Summer of Sam,” “Malcolm X,” “The Original Kings of Comedy,” “Jungle Fever,” “Mo’ Better Blues,” and “School Daze.” Among his documentaries and plays adapted to film are: “When The Levees Broke,” “If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise,” “Jim Brown: All American,” “Passing Strange,” “Kobe Doin’ Work,” “Freak,” “A Huey P. Newton Story” and “4 Little Girls.”
Spike Lee says his forthcoming documentary that commemorates the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s “BAD” album and tour, will be a treat for every Jackson fan. Working title,”Bad 25,” “It’s going to include footage no one has ever seen,” he expressed at the ‘Red Hook’ junket. In post-production, the movie will hit theaters in September to coincide with the date of the album’s original release. His next feature film “Old Boy” is in pre-production, it stars Oscar nominee Josh Brolin. Update for Lee fans looking for a sequel to “Inside Man” and the James Brown biopic starring Wesley Snipes — scrapped and double scrapped. Apart from that, Spike has also taken on his first direction for a Broadway play.
“Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,” starring the boxer himself, opened last Thursday on August 2nd at New York’s Longacre Theatre. Lee says Tyson is doing a good job and getting positive reaction from the audience. “Red Hook Summer,” distributed through Variance Films, premieres in New York tonight and hits theaters across the country this Friday, August 10th.