Commentary Magazine


Article Preview

Spike Lee

- Abstract

To the Editor:

Congratulations to Richard Grenier for his incisive debunking of the Don King of film-makers, Spike Lee [“Spike Lee Fever,” August]. Most reviewers—either out of misplaced guilt or peer pressure—seem afraid to expose this director’s glaring weaknesses, so Mr. Grenier’s piece is very bracing.

To start with, most analysis fails to mention that as a storyteller Lee suffers from a poor sense of structure. He seems to operate from the schoolboy notion that the more subjects one crams into a movie the more profound it is. He cynically attempts to insert a last-minute quotation or a token “good” character to disguise the ugly business he’s up to. Though he pretends to tackle the “big” subjects, Lee actually chews a lot more than he bites off. The best that can be said for him is that he is a rather crude polemicist. But in a love story like Jungle Fever he is out of his element. He cannot show us real affection or warmth or even lust. Such feelings would get in the way of his agenda. So instead of characters he gives us caricatures and in place of revelation he recycles hysterical clichés.



About the Author