Crooklyn

1994, Movie, PG-13, 112 mins

Review

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Spike Lee returns to the Brooklyn neighborhood milieu of DO THE RIGHT THING, setting a semi-autobiographical family drama against the sights and sounds of an early 1970s summer. While Lee fails to impose sufficient structure on his material, expertly drawn performances help vividly to evoke the family and street life of an era untroubled by crack or drive-by shootings.

On a well-kept block in Brooklyn, the Carmichaels, a lower middle-class African-American family, occupy a brownstone amidst a multiracial mix of colorful and eccentric neighbors. As summer beckons, the kids--Clinton (Carlton Williams), Wendell (Sharif Rashid), Nate (Christopher Knowings), Joseph (Tse-Mach Washington), and the only girl, 9-year-old Troy (Zelda Harris)--take to the streets to play games and engage in mischief, while at home they eat, fight, and watch lots of TV. Their parents, musician Woody (Delroy Lindo) and school teacher Carolyn (Alfre Woodard), intervene in the children's squabbles--as well as battling frequently over their own financial troubles--and give them the love and guidance they need to navigate the difficult path to adulthood.

In his seventh feature film Lee for the first time draws primarily on his own family background, though the result is still characterized by his trademark freneticism. Powerhouse performances--notably from Lindo, Woodard, and Harris--help compensate for the lack of dramatic focus. Concentrating on Troy, CROOKLYN explores the coming-of-age process with a candor rarely seen on screen; the script, co-written by Lee with two of his siblings, brother Cinque and sister Joie Susannah, captures all the complexity of this turbulent period in a girl's life. leave a comment

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Spike Lee Joint Collection (Clockers/ Jungle Fever/ Do the Right Thing/ Mo` Better Blues/ Crooklyn)
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Crooklyn
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From Universal Studios (DVD)
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