Spike Lee voiced displeasure at being branded after his first film "the black Woody Allen," and in truth his ambitions, though no less large, run in a quite different direction (and at even a faster clip) than those of the maker of Interiors and September and such. Lee's third feature -- a fragmented street comedy that intermittently, and at last completely, loses its sense of humor -- anatomizes an incident of racial violence in Bedford-Stuyvesant on a hot summer day. The ostensible catalyst scarcely seems earth-shaking: whether or not Sal's Famous Pizzeria ought to include some photos of "brothers" -- Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, Michael Jordan -- among those of Sinatra, Loren, De Niro, et al., on the restaurant's Wall of Fame. The movie, in consequence, seems most truly (most artistically) serious in exploring the particular, petty circumstantiality of the case: a combustible mix of individual people, extreme temperature, and unfortunate happenstance. And a feeling of genuine despair lingers well past movie's end. Some didactic expediencies (a fantasy forum of Melting-Pot Bigots) are less seriously serious, and some stylistic uncertainties (tilted cameras, fish-eye lenses) are no more than capricious. With Danny Aiello, John Turturro, Richard Edson, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Rosie Perez, and Lee.
Length: 2 hours