August 28, 2006

Spike Rocks the Doc


Over the weekend, Cinecultist watched all four hours of Spike Lee's documentary, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts which we'd DiVo'ed from HBO the weekend prior. This is some powerful stuff, ol' Spike's put together and we had to watch it only one chunk per day or else the despair and heartache might have been too overwhelming.

One of Cinecultist's favorite part time hobbies is ripping on Lee's self-important windbag shtick and often finds his movies to be patronizing at best and sledgehammers at worst. However, When The Levees Broke avoids that heavy handed sermonizing on race and really let's the people tell their stories. With real people, Lee has a deftness and empathy that's remarkable. He's obviously moved deeply by their incredible plight and is able to communicate that to his audience.

In an interview on HBO's site he says,

"...Many of them expressed their outrage too. And one interesting thing is that these European journalists were saying the images they were seeing looked like they were from a third world country, not the almighty United States of America. So hopefully, this documentary will bring this fiasco, this travesty, back to the attention of the American people. And maybe the public can get some politicians' ass in the government to move quicker, and be more efficient in helping our fellow American citizens in the Gulf region."

One of ways Lee most powerfully brings home the destruction of New Orleans is through some amazing still photography. It's not easily identifiable during the doc who took these photographs of dejected children, families struggling to stay together and houses broken into matchstick sized debris but they kick you in the gut. Unfortunately, the HBO website doesn't list or showcase them either but these images are reason enough to watch the flick. They really stick with you. Like the European journalists told Spike, they make the US look like a Third World country and this destruction seem to be of biblical proportions.

All four parts will re-air tomorrow night at 8 pm on HBO to mark the 1 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Please try to make it mandatory viewing, this movie is important stuff.

Posted by karen at August 28, 2006 4:22 PM