23. Red Hook Summer
Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Clarke Peters, Jules Brown, De’Adre Aziza, Nate Parker, Tony Lysaith, Heather Alicia Simms
Release info: Seeking distribution
Why you should be excited: As Spike Lee made adamantly clear during the film’s post-screening press conference at Sundance, Red Hook Summer is not Do The Right Thing 2, but you can’t blame speculators for thinking so. Putting the outspoken filmmaker back in both his indie roots and Brooklyn stomping grounds, this lo-fi look at a southern kid’s time spent in BK with his preacher uncle (The Wire’s Clarke Peters) operates with the same type of scathing social commentary (a third act reveal takes the film to a very dark, perverted place) and within the same universe (Lee makes a cameo as Do The Right Thing’s Mookie, Dodgers shirt and all).
Unsurprisingly for a Spike Lee joint, Red Hook Summer caused much dissent amongst critics at Sundance, with some praising the director’s return to his fearless, do-it-yourself roots and others decrying the film’s harrowing conclusion. But, really, would we expect anything less from Tyler Perry’s number one hater?