Yesterday the trailer for Chi-Raq was released. There’s something about this movie that has been getting under my skin and I must talk about it. In a nutshell, let’s just say I’m not too excited about it. Why? The title was a poor choice. Period.
The movie will have a limited release on December 4, 2015 and then it will be released via Amazon Instant Video. Chi-Raq includes a lot of celebrities such as Jennifer Hudson, Wesley Snipes, Teyonah Paris, Samuel L. Jackson, Nick Cannon, John Cusack, La La Anthony, Dave Chappelle, and Angela Bassett. Many local Chicago actors and actresses will also appear in the film as well. Nonetheless, this star-studded cast still does not make me excited to see it.
Spike Lee described the controversial movie recently in an interview with Chicago magazine as having a lot of spoken word. He also states that while music is a part of it, it’s not a musical. In the excerpt below he talks about why Chi-Raq is based on the Greek comedy Lysistrata by Aristophanes and the tone of the film.
CHICAGO MAGAZINE: Yes. It seems kind of a quirky conceit for such a serious subject.
SPIKE LEE: Well, this play was written by the Greek playwright Aristophanes, 411 B.C. The lead character was tired of the war between the Trojans [actually, the Athenians] and the Spartans. So she came up with this amazing idea: We could make our men put down their spears, their knives, whatever, if we get all the women together and withhold sex, have a sex strike.
Kevin Willmott—he’s the cowriter—he wrote that version of the script six years ago. We tried to get it done, couldn’t. So we put it down. And then when there was this upsurge of Trayvon [Martin], Mike Brown, Eric Garner—you could go on forever—I said, “Kevin, you still have that script? We should rewrite it together. We’ll keep the premise, Lysistrata, but move it to Chicago, today, South Side.”
CHICAGO MAGAZINE: But what about the tone?
SPIKE LEE: It is possible to address a very serious subject matter and still have humor. I’ve done it before. Do the Right Thing was serious as hell. It was so serious you can still show that film today—it’s still contemporary. But Do the Right Thing was also funny as a motherfucker. Another example—one of my favorite films, one of my favorite filmmakers: Stanley Kubrick, Dr. Strangelove. What’s more serious than the planet’s destruction? But that movie was hilarious. There are many examples—music, plays, novels, movies—where humor has been injected into very serious subject matter. (source: Spike Lee Sounds Off on Chi-Raq, Gun Violence, and Rahm)
Chicago seems to be divided on Chi-Raq. Some people are excited that Spike Lee did a movie about our city and is speaking out about the violence, while others feel he may be capitalizing off the hype, or further staining Chicago’s South Side. What’s crazy is that as news of the trailer was coming down our Twitter timeline, the story of the execution of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee was also showing up on our timeline. I hope this movie won’t be a mockery of the pain that this city is experiencing due to the violence in the streets of Chicago. The violence in Chicago is serious and while I know that Spike Lee has a particular creative style and flow, the title sucks and based on the trailer (I know it’s just 2 minutes and 31 seconds) I’m not thrilled to see this movie—at all. We probably won’t get an invitation to any Chicago movie premieres…and I’m OK with that.
Check out the trailer below and tweet us your thoughts to @BoriquaChicks.
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