I still have a little dab of barrel grease in my hair from where my wife held the gun to my head and forced me to watch Spike Lee's MIRCLE AT ST ANNA on DVD the other night. I had already seen it in the theatres and well.
In the interest of full disclosure, let me just say right now that I don't like Spike Lee. I don't like him as a person. I don't like him as a film maker and I don't like him as a tennis shoe spokes model, but still, I keep coming back to his films hoping to see some of that promise he showed with DO THE RIGHT THING, and I keep being disappointed.
Lee is a lot like Oliver Stone lately in that they both keep tripping over their dicks while making movies. They have to keep reminding the audience that their directing the movie with totally unmotivated camera tricks. MIRICLE AT ST ANNA starts much the same way. Zooming down hallways at floor level, cameras merry-go-rounding about the actors as if Lee got bored with what they were saying and is just trying to keep himself awake; but then the movie settles down and you actually get engaged in the story.
This is Lee's answer to the charge that Clint Eastwood didn't use enough black people in THE FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, and then, just when you start enjoying the film a piece of dishonest storytelling of gi-normis proportions rears it's ugly and the movie falls apart, it's brainpan spread across the screen like one of the disposable under-developed characters in the first act.
Here's a simple question: when Pierfrancesco Favinos' Great Butterfly character retells the story of the killings at St Anna that he was told by a village woman, how does he or she know that the child saw everything? The child has told no one. The German deserter has told no one. If the woman had also witnessed the exchange between the traitor and the German officer she would have been killed, so other than lazy story telling/film making; how does that information get to the Butterfly?
Perhaps with great art we not supposed to look too closely, and just let the work wash over us to see the message... Well.... I'm waiting...
The film actually does have a message but that message seems to be: only white people, Porto Ricans and brothers who betray their friends smoke cigarettes. Avoid MIRICLE AT ST ANNA like Chinese milk. You have been warned.
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Lance Norris gives us his opinions on the state of film, vents about Hollywood, and generally lets his thoughts fly.
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