The premiere of Spike Lee’s latest film, Red Hook Summer was met with mixed (and in some cases scathing) reviews from audiences at the Sundance Film Festival, prompting Lee to burst into a tirade, according to reports.
The film is billed as a coming-of-age story of teenage boy who spends the summer in Brooklyn’s Red Hook projects with his preacher grandfather. Spike Lee called it the latest in his “chronicles” of his childhood neighborhood. Red Hook Summer features a return of the iconic character “Mookie”, originally played by Lee in 1989’s Do the Right Thing, but the film is ”not a motherf**king sequel to Do the Right Thing,” as Lee said in an after-premiere discussion.
The film features a jarring plot twist that seemed to polarize the audience of critics, causing some to walk out of the theater and others to tweet their sentiments. Entertainment Weekly’s Anthony Breznican tweeted, “Okay, so Red Hook Summer ISN’T a coming-of-age movie. It’s a what-the-hell?!? movie.” The arts and entertainment writer for the Los Angeles Times, Steven Zeitchik wrote, “Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer is his most interesting/ambitious film in yrs, tho the last section will be polarizing.”
Other comments were far more critical. “I have so many negative things to say about Spike Lee’s RED HOOK SUMMER that I don’t know where to begin,” said Erik Childress of efilmcritic.com. ComingSoon.net’s @WkndWarriorCS called Lee’s film, “one of the worst movies to ever premiere” at the festival.
It was at the post-screening discussion that Lee reportedly went on a rant about Hollywood and black films after being prompted with a question from comedian Chris Rock. Rock, who was in the audience asked, “What would you have done differently if you’d actually gotten a bunch of studio money. Would you have blown up lots of sh*t?”
“We never went to the studios with this film,” said Lee. “I bought a camera and said we’re gonna do this motherf**king film ourselves…I didn’t need a motherf**king studio telling me something about Red Hook! They know nothing about black people! Nothing!”
Lee went on to detail his struggle with studios to produce a sequel to his highest-grossing movie, Inside Man and acknowledged the presence of several cast members from the recently-released, predominately-black Red Tails.
Then he apologized for his outbursts saying, “Sorry for that motherf**king tirade.”
Follow Donovan X. Ramsey on Twitter at @idxr