Director Spike Lee is known for his interesting and often controversial films. Some of his earlier works are in my "favorite movie" category. Movies such as 'School Daze', 'Do The Right Thing', 'He Got Game' and who can forget 'Malcom X'. So I guess you can say I'm a fan of some of his work.
I had seen the previews for 'Chi-Raq' and from the previews still wasn't sure what to think exactly this was about.
In recent years, I remember hearing about the violence and children's lives who have been taken from stray bullets in the Chicago, IL. In Kansas City, we have recently had at least a dozen children shot and killed in the last year. Horrible! Any way you spin this issue, it's sad and sick, anytime a mother has to bury their own child.
I understand where the offense comes from. People take pride in where their from, whether from NYC or podunk town, USA. People are a part of their city and the city or town they live in is a part of them, I get that.
Kansas City, Missouri is often referred to as "Killa City" due to our homicide rate in the early 2000's and I hate that term. I can see why Chicagoans are offended by the nickname "Chi-Raq" and by the movie. To associate your city with such a negative connotation, especially to do with killing and war zones isn't anything to be proud of. It should be something to be ashamed of.
I saw the word, 'satire' attached to 'Chi-Raq' before I went to see the film last night. Familiar with what exactly a 'satirical' film is, I recalled briefly seeing the film 'Bamboozled' (another Spike Lee film) back in 2000 that was highly controversial too.
I've seen some pretty nasty, purely ignorant comments on the reviews written about this movie. I'm not sure people just don't know or don't care what the many messages are in this film, or are just fully ready to rip it to shreds.
If taken literally, you're going to miss a few of the points being made in this film. The movie is more than just a satirical film, based off of the Greek play 'Lysistrata' by Aristophanes. Instead, what if it was looked at as a piece of art that makes you think and sparks conversation?
This is not just a film about violence in Chicago, that tries to use abstinence as a solution is to stop the violence.
Yes, once you get around all of the profanity and sex, I believe this movie is a major "think piece" and will create conversation for years to come like many of Spike Lee's other films.
One of the many messages I picked up on in the film was that violence is a vicious cycle in the black community. So many young women are having to raise young black boys on their own with no help from fathers or another solid male role model to guide them. Many young black males are out here lost and left to fend for themselves.
The movie begins with a scene at a club where rapper/gang member Chi-Raq (Nick Cannon) is about to perform. We see two text bubbles between people who are unknown. Soon after his performance begins a shooting occurs and the two texters are revealed, now shot dead on the floor. We now are hit with the tension of the story, now aware of a gang rivalry between the Spartans and the Trojans. A real story of these days, beefs being handled over text message.
A great deal of the movie is delivered in rhyme and spoken word, well played.
Samuel L. Jackson, the narrator of the movie as ort of ghetto philosopher.
Nick Cannon was acted his part as rapper/gang leader 'Chi-Raq'. Just edgy and smooth enough, but not over acted. He played his part well. Those sex scenes may have gotten Mr. Cannon in a bit of trouble I think, but I digress.
Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris), a familiar face from the movie 'Dear White People', sets out to end violence in the community by staging a sex strike, "No Peace, No P*ssy". In the light of satirical films, the revolt is largely staged at the National Guard Armory. What a statement it makes that this is where listees go to train for battle or for war.
To take over the Armory, Lysistrata ties up an old white general, who strips down to his confederate underwear, mounted on an old cannon called 'Whistling Dick' and rips the confederate flag off the wall. Did you catch that one?
With an all-star cast along with Nick, Samuel L. and Teyonah Parris was Dave Chappelle, Wesley Snipes, Roger Guenveur Smith, La La Anthony, Felicia Pearson (Snoop from The Wire), Steve Harris (Diary of A Mad Black) and Angela Bassett. This movie did great with casting characters who really drove this powerful film.
In the end, Chi-Raq confesses to accidental murder of a young child and every gang member turns in their guns.
This movie not only sheds light on the seriousness of the problems in Southside Chicago, and Chicago's murder rate that is well into the 400's this year; It also sheds light on the fact that this isn't a Chicago problem, it's a Baltimore problem, a Kansas City problem a Houston, Texas problem and a New York problem.
It should not be a film that offends people, but yet enlightens them about the ignorance that goes on in our communities, in the streets of not only Chicago and 'hoods elsewhere.
Bringing humor to an issue is no laughing matter, but rather a way to try to get the unconscious to wake up and see the error. More of a haha see how dumb you ignorant folk that are shooting up your own kind in the streets, while innocent people are bystanders and could get hit!
Some say Spike Lee is trying to exploit violence, just to make money. Hmmm, ok I think money is far from his objective as film director. If that were the case he wouldn't have made a movie that was so controversial, he would have made a movie that was beautiful and flowery, everyone wanted to see.
Mr. Lee has been telling us for years in his movies to "Wake Up". But I see some of y'all are still very asleep!