The besties review
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Spike Lee’s School Daze is funny, stylish, and (as you might expect) politically charged. I really enjoyed the neatly choreographed dance numbers and hilarious Gamma pledge line, but what I liked most was the fact that Lee told a story about the prejudices that exist on the campus of a historically black college. We often see the struggle of black vs. white depicted on screen (and in our daily lives), but Lee’s ensemble comedy effectively takes an alternative route, proving that there are many different and important POVs than just our own.
About an hour into the film, I began to seriously question why I never learned about Malcolm X in school. I mean, I know why (because the American public education system has a severe racial bias), but I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed and cheated that I never learned about the life of Malcolm X. Part of the reason why I do this 5 Film Film Festival is to watch some classic movies, yes, but also to learn and fill in the gaps of my cinematic and historical knowledge.
As for the film itself, I thought it was wonderful. Denzel Washington’s performances was as great as I expected it to be, and the three and a half hour runtime just flew by. I honestly could have watched another two hours of his story.
4 Little Girls
This movie is another one that has been circling my watchlist for a while, and it did not disappoint. While It may not be the most cinematic film in Spike’s oeuvre, it’s gotta be one of his most emotional. Stylistically, it feels a little bit dated, but you can’t deny the strong wealth of emotion that he has imbued in this thing. I would consider this a must-watch for doc fans and history buffs alike.
A Huey P. Newton Story
I actually remember watching around a half hour of this in some college class my freshman year, but I don’t remember the context. Still, getting to see the whole thing was a treat. Easily one of the best “filmed-plays” I’ve ever seen with an absolutely knock-out performance from Roger Guenveur Smith.
When the Levees Broke
This strikes me as one of the most important American documentaries ever made. Totally engrossing, disturbing, sad, beautiful, and awesome. Officially the “longest” movie I’ve ever seen according to Letterboxd and I still wanted more! I guess that’s what the four hour sequel is for, right?
Oh, but that Kanye bit didn’t age too well, huh
What is 5 Film Film Festival (5FFF)?
In short, 5 Film Film Festival is an ongoing personal project to help me watch more classic films. For each mini “festival,” I will choose a random theme (be it a genre, actor, director, etc.) and curate five movies that fit that theme to watch for the first time. When I started this journey, I posted my brief, unpolished thoughts on Letterboxd. I like this more informal, less pretentious mode of watching older movies, so as I begin documenting the project here on the site, don’t expect a lot of in-depth analysis— every “review” will read more like a “first reaction.”
If you’re like me, and you have more than a few blind spots in your cinematic knowledge, then consider joining me on this lifelong endeavor. Watch along, recommend themes, and organize some mini festivals of your own!