Normally I’d complain that a prestige pic like this, from one of my favorite filmmakers was dropping on Netflix instead of theaters. Especially because I’m focusing mostly on the movie wall, and not getting too many streaming flicks. This was so good tho. I didn’t have the usual attention span issues from when I’m watching a film at home. There were several times where I even dropped my crochet (which really just functions as a fidget spinner) and I stared at the screen. I’d suspect Alamo Drafthouse will pick up this film once they open back up, and I might be making a trip down there to see it again in all its big screen glory.
This latest Spike Lee joint is about a group of black Vietnam veterans. Each were changed by what they saw in the war, but have gone on to live their lives in their own way as best as they can. They reunite for a trip back to ‘Nam, with the primary mission of finding their commander’s body and bringing him home. There’s also a secondary mission of locating some gold that went missing on their watch, promising enough wealth to change what’s left of their lives. That is if the trip doesn’t tear them apart first.
As I’d already began saying, this film was incredible. The story is strong, made so much stronger by Lee’s signature racial commentary (it sounds so trite to put it that way, but that really is the strength of the film). IMDB trivia told me that the original screenplay centered on white soldiers, and I cannot see that film having the same impact that this one did. I loved how Lee spliced in past and present footage to illustrate the parallels between their micro struggles and their macro ones. When he added the protest footage to the end of BlacKkKlansman, I’d worried that people would think it was too preachy and heavy handed. Instead, that addition received so much well deserved praise. He basically took that technique one step further and used it throughout much of the film to great effect.
Phenomenal cast as you would expect since Lee really does have his pick of actors. Chadwick Boseman, Norm Lewis, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters. But the major standout was Delroy Lindo. He’s one of those actors that you’ve definitely seen before. Maybe you did know his name before this movie, and you had a passing familiarity with him. This is the role of a lifetime for him. You will definitively know this man after watching this. Calling it for the Oscar nomination too. I don’t even wanna talk about specifics lest I spoil the impact, but oh damn, he was something special to watch.
I really liked how Lee used the same older actors for the flashback scenes, with only Chadwick Boseman being age appropriate. On the one hand, it seems so practical, to not need to figure out who is who, thus keeping the storylines more connected. But there’s more reason than that. Again according to IMDB trivia (srsly, if you’re not in the habit of looking up every movie you watch like I am, you are missing out some really cool stuff) the real reasoning was two fold. One is that it emphasizes that these are memories the now old men are experiencing and reliving today. The second is to highlight that 4 of them grew old while the fifth was KIA. It’s really effective and I’m surprised you don’t see this type of thing done more often. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a trend going foward.
Anyways, this is definitely required viewing, which should be easy enough to catch on Netflix in quarantine. It’s gonna be an extra long awards season this year, and we’ve already got one contender that will be in that conversation for the long haul.