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Based on Richard Price's grim best-seller, and directed by Spike Lee from a screenplay co-written with Price, Clockers takes the structure of a police procedural to build a chilling portrait of despair, hope, and the unanswered problem of black-on-black crime in an urban housing project. The film's haunting themes are vividly visualized during the opening credits, which run over police photos of dead young black men, shot and sprawled on sidewalks, in streets, and hanging over fences. Strike (Mekhi Phifer) is a 19-year-old African-American "clocker" -- the lowest link on the drug dealing chain -- who hangs around park benches and street corners selling small amounts of druges at all hours of the day, dreaming of a way out of his dead-end life. Drug kingpin Rodney (Delroy Lindo) asks Strike to kill another clocker, Darryl, for skimming money, saying that this will be Strike's ticket to a higher post in Rodney's organization. Darryl is indeed shot, and suspicion immediately falls on Strike, but a weary cop named Rocco Klein (Harvey Keitel) thinks there's more to the case.
A slice African-American urban life in early 1970s, CROOKLYN focuses on the good- humored Carmichael family whose center of gravity is their mother (Alfre Woodard), a hard-working schoolteacher. Around her are one dependable daughter (Zelda Harris) four obnoxious younger sons and a stubborn jazz musician husband (Delroy Lindo) who refuses to let go of his dreams. Seeped in 1970s nostalgia, this film highlights the events, large and small, that dot one girl's journey from childhood to womanhood.
Do the Right Thing (1989):
Director Spike Lee dives head-first into a maelstrom of racial and social ills, using as his springboard the hottest day of the year on one block in Brooklyn, NY. Three businesses dominate the block: a storefront radio station, where a smooth-talkin' deejay (Samuel L. Jackson) spins the platters that matter; a convenience store owned by a Korean couple; and Sal's Famous Pizzeria, the only white-operated business in the neighborhood. Sal (Danny Aiello) serves up slices with his two sons, genial Vito (Richard Edson) and angry, racist Pino (John Turturro). Sal has one black employee, Mookie (Spike Lee), who wants to "get paid" but lacks ambition. His sister Jade (Joie Lee, Spike's sister), who has a greater sense of purpose and a "real" job, wants Mookie to start dealing with his responsibilities, most notably his son with girlfriend Tina (Rosie Perez). Two of Mookie's best friends are Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn), a monolith of a man who rarely speaks, preferring to blast Public Enemy's rap song Fight The Power on his massive boom box; and Buggin' Out (Giancarlo Esposito), nicknamed for his coke-bottle glasses and habit of losing his cool. When Buggin' Out notes that Sal's "Wall of Fame," a photo gallery of famous Italian-Americans, includes no people of color, he eventually demands a neighborhood boycott, on a day when tensions are already running high, that incurs tragic consequences.
Jungle Fever (1991)
In his film Jungle Fever, Spike Lee examines the repercussions of an interracial affair upon two very distinct communities. Wesley Snipes is Flipper, a happily married and successful architect, and Annabella Sciorra is Angie, an office temp. When she starts working in Flipper's Manhattan office, one day they look at each other and are soon having sex over a blueprint-strewn desk. Their liaison causes an explosion on both homefronts. Flipper's family consists of his father Doctor Purify (Ossie Davis), a former preacher; his mother Lucinda (Ruby Dee); his violent, crackhead brother Gator (Samuel L. Jackson); and his wife Drew (Lonette McKee), whom he loves, despite his sexual attraction to Angie. Angie's family is a typical Italian-American household from Bensonhurst. She's engaged to Paulie Carbonne (John Turturro), who works in a deli owned by his father Lou (Anthony Quinn). When the two families find out about Flipper and Angie's affair, their shock leads to recriminations and racial animosity.
Mo' Better Blues (1990):
Mo' Better Blues tells the story of a fictional trumpeter named Bleek Gilliam (Denzel Washington). He leads a quintet at the Beneath the Underground club with a flashy saxophonist named Shadow Henderson (Wesley Snipes). Though Shadow takes a few too many solos, everything seems fine in Bleek's life. Trouble soon arises, however, and he is forced to make decisions regarding both his best friend Giant (Spike Lee), and his relationships with two women. Giant, his manager and old pal, is addicted to gambling and often gets roughed up by thugs looking for pay back. Bleek is the only member of the quintet who wants to keep him as manager. The trumpeter's woman problems concern trying to decide between two girlfriends who both love him: a schoolteacher (Joie Lee) and a singer (Cynda Williams).
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