Welcome back to MOVIE LISTS, the column where we look at— lists pertaining to movies. Duh!
Up today, it’s a look at the career of director Spike Lee, which of course is still going strong, so while this is an incomplete list, it’s still an important one because Spike Lee is an important filmmaker.
Now, I haven’t really seen enough Spike Lee movies to consider myself a true fan, but I’ve generally enjoyed his work, and his most recent movies have spoken to current racial tensions in ways that have really resonated, so Lee has been on my mind lately more than ever. And rightly so. Lee makes movies that make you pay attention.
Okay, here’s a partial list of Spike Lee’s 93 directorial credits:
JOE’S BED-STUY BARBERSHOP: WE CUT HEADS (1983)- Lee’s first directorial credit.
SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT (1986) – Spike Lee’s first legitimate hit, a comedy about a young woman and her three lovers. Well-received by critics upon its initial release. I was fortunate enough to see it when it first came out, as I was in my senior year at Boston University and saw it when it premiered as part of one of my film classes.
In addition to directing and writing the screenplay, Lee also appears in the movie as one of the boyfriends.
SCHOOL DAZE (1988) – Lee’s next film, a comedy/drama/musical about a fraternity pledge at a black college. Starring Laurence Fishburne and a young Giancarlo Esposito who would go on to star in a lot of Lee’s movies.
DO THE RIGHT THING (1989) – Powerful tale of race relations in Brooklyn. Starring Danny Aiello, John Turturro, and again, Giancarlo Esposito.
MO’ BETTER BLUES (1990) – again directed, written by, and starring Spike Lee, this one is the story of two jazz musicians played by Denzel Washington and Wesley Snipes.
JUNGLE FEVER (1991) – Lee’s take on interracial relationships, starring Wesley Snipes and Annabella Sciorra.
MALCOLM X (1992) – probably my favorite Spike Lee movie. This riveting bio pic of African American leader Malcolm X also features one of my favorite performances by Denzel Washington of all time, in the lead role as Malcolm X.
CROOKLYN (1994) – a look at a black family in Brooklyn in 1973.
CLOCKERS (1995)- crime thriller about drug pushers and cops in Brooklyn, starring Harvey Keitel and Lee regular John Turturro.
GIRL 6 (1996) -comedy/drama about a struggling actress who turns to sex to make money.
GET ON THE BUS (1996) – chronicles a bus ride to Washington D.C. for the Million Man March.
HE GOT GAME (1998)- basketball player drama starring Denzel Washington.
SUMMER OF SAM (1999) -Lee’s take on the Son of Sam murders.
BAMBOOZLED (2000)- comedy drama about a frustrated African American writer who in a fit of frustration comes up with a blackface minstrel show only to see it become a hit.
25TH HOUR (2002) – drama about the last 24 hours of a convicted drug dealer, starring Edward Norton.
INSIDE MAN (2006) – Tense crime drama about negotiations over a hostage situation following a bank robbery, starring Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, and Jodie Foster.
MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA (2008) – World War II drama about a group of black soldiers who get trapped in a village.
RED HOOK SUMMER (2012) – drama about a boy who spends a summer with his deeply religious grandfather.
OLDBOY (2013) – weird action drama, a remake, about a man, played by Josh Brolin, held captive for twenty years who is then suddenly released, and he sets out to find answers to why this happened to him. This one just didn’t work for me.
DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS (2014) – thriller about a mysterious curse which results in a thirst for blood.
CHI-RAQ (2015) – modern day adaptation of a play by Aristophanes.
BLACKKKLANSMAN (2018) – the first Spike Lee film since MALCOLM X that I really, really enjoyed. Intriguing from start to finish, it tells the story of a black cop played by John David Washington who infiltrates the KKK but then needs the help of a fellow white cop played by Adam Driver to pull off the ruse. Thought-provokig throughout, it’s actually based on real events.
DA 5 BLOODS (2020)- Lee’s most recent film to date, and his first for Netflix. I actually enjoyed this one even more than BLACKKKLANSMAN, as its story of four black veterans of the Vietnam war who return to Vietnam in 2020 to reclaim the remains of their fallen platoon leader speaks to today’s modern day Black Lives Matter movement with a clarity that is seldom found in the movies. An outstanding movie that really speaks to the plight of the black male in the United States.
And there you have it, a brief, partial list of the movies of Spike Lee, one of the most influential film directors working today.
I hope you enjoyed this MOVIE LISTS column and will join me again next time when we look at another list pertaining to the movies.
As always, thanks for reading!