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Now entering the ring: Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq”

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  • benutty
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    #197187

    Limited release by Roadside Attractions on Dec. 4, 2015, from IMDB:
    A modern day adaptation of the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, set against the backdrop of gang violence in Chicago.

    Dir. by Spike Lee
    Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Hudson, John Cusack, Nick Cannon, Teyonah Parris, Anya Engel-Adams, Wesley Snipes, Angela Bassett, La La Anthony, and more

    Trailer: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4594834/?ref_=ext_shr_eml_vi#lb-vi680571417 

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    vinny
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    #197189

    Nick Cannon and Samuel L Jackson…..this has my attention now.

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    benutty
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    #197190

    It looks like Jennifer Hudson has some emotional beats, too! Supporting Actress?!

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    Cordell Martin
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    #197191

    Jennifer Hudson and Teyonah Parris looked strong in the trailer.

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    KyleBailey
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    #197192

    This looks interesting! Kind of looks like is has the same tone as Dope from earlier this year. 

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    Jalal Haddad
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    #197193

    I have been curious about this film for a while and now the trailer has me very excited. Last week on her podcast Anne Thomposon mentioned an awards push for the film. What if Chi-raq replaced Beasts of No Nation as the online streaming awards contender?

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    manakamana
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    #197194

    I’d be surprised…but I’m always down for a good Spike Lee joint. But he’s getting an honorary Oscar, anyways, which I think is brilliant — if only for She’s Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, 4 Little Girls, 25th Hour, and Inside Man. But perhaps if they wanted to honor a black filmmaker, they could have gone with Charles Burnett — way less prolific, but so important. 

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    KyleBailey
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    #197195

    My Review: 

    One of the most important movies to see this year. Spike Lee hits all the right notes on the epidemic that is alive and well even this week. Chi-Raq is about the violence of Chicago but honestly Chi-Raq is just a representation of America. I have only seen 2 of Lee’s films (Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X) and I think looking at his past decade’s worth of work on his resume, this is definitely a return to form for him hitting the same anger portrayed in Do the Right Thing. From the powerful opening sequence where the audience stares at a map of the US made entirely out of guns to the final shot of Samuel L. Jackson doing a riff of the iconic opening shot of Patton standing in front of a giant US flag, Lee’s visual appeal is still as strong as ever to really shake you as an audience member. The performances are all great with maybe John Cusack as the weakest link, something about him was a little off, but overall a really strong ensemble from the known stars to the background protesters. Teyonah Parris is a new face to me and she really gave a strong magnetic performance that made you want to stand by her side to protest. The stand outs come from Angela Bassett who is never not good but particularly amazing and heartbreaking towards the end. Bassett and Lee have a really good repertoire bringing back the same powerful notes they hit together in Malcolm X. Jennifer Hudson reminds us why she is an Oscar winning supporting actress with a small but very impactful role that was present to me throughout the whole movie even without being on screen for a lot of the time. She breaks your heart every time she is on the screen. Nick Cannon is the biggest revelation here playing the lead gang member the provoked this strike. If viewers only know Cannon as the charming host of America’s Got Talent and Wild N Out, you are going to see a real different guy here. He definitely deserves rich roles like this one more often. Cusack was fine but he has this really powerful sermon that just didn’t work with Cusack’s rawness. Samuel L. Jackson is wonderful as the on screen narrator, another actor with a great repertoire with Lee. Wesley Snipes also gives a fabulous comeback performance to the movies after personal issues we all know about making his absent from the movies. The true unique nature to this movie is the screenplay. Rather than being just another Do the Right Thing for 2015, Lee and co writer Kevin Willmott intertwine it to be an adaptation of the Greek play Lysistrata set in Chicago. It makes the movie fresh and unique in the way Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet was which actually deals with similar strikes against modern violence in gang culture. The art direction, costumes, and soundtrack add an extra flavor doing a great job differentiating who was on what side in the gang wars. I would give this movie 5 stars for the message alone because as I said, Lee hits all the right notes and hits the political satire spot on with the depiction of how many police officers show up to a peaceful protest looking like they are about to enter into the middle east for war and zinging people like George Zimmerman and all the monsters involved with these mass shootings and how the government handling them. But the movie faces along of mood swings that sometimes get a little to over the top while trying to still have a rich political statement. Also sometimes the Greek rhyming style rang false out of the actors’ mouths not committing to it as if it were a Greek play. But most of those moments were in the beginning of the movie so I think the actors were just trying to get into the rhythm that started to work better as the movie progressed. Along with Brooklyn with dealing with the truths about Immigration, this is a must watch for all of our presidential candidates to understand the impact stuff like this has and how things can change. The movie is sadly a work of fiction when it gets to the end where a compromise is made and resorts in a peaceful happily ever after ending that would be amazing if we as a nation could get there. So overall, 5 stars for the message and the importance of itself in movie culture but 4 1/2 for those times it shifted off the rails and need to find its focus again. When I saw Do the Right Thing earlier this year, it was sadly relevant 26 years later. I hope Chi-Raq is not relevant 26 years from now but I am frightened it will be. 4 1/2 stars 


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    KyleBailey
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    #197196

    In terms of awards, I wish they released this a little earlier to gain some buzz. Angela Bassett and Jennifer Hudson really deserve nominations. 

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    KubrickFan98
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    #197197

    Dave Chappelle for Supporting! I haven’t seen the movie, but of course I’m gonna root for Dave.

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    KyleBailey
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    #197198

    It’s a one scene cameo. He doesn’t make much on an impact except “hey that’s Dave Chappelle!” 

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    KubrickFan98
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    #197199

    It’s a one scene cameo. He doesn’t make much on an impact except “hey that’s Dave Chappelle!” 

    Huh, then why did they give him his own poster?

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    KyleBailey
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    #197200

    I haven’t seen that. I guess for star recognition. That’s odd. Unless I missed him in other scenes I don’t think he was in more than 1 scene 

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