|Samuel L. Jackson|
With Beasts of No Nation already proving to be a smart bet for Netflix, it's looking like Amazon is about to unleash its own major film. While the awards season has been focused predominantly on theatrical screenings, online streaming companies are trying to get in the game with high profile directors and casts turning in work as compelling as their other original content. In the case of upcoming Honorary Oscar winner Spike Lee's Chiraq, he brings Amazon's shot at something great. In typical fashion, the first trailer is loud, abrasive, and everything that the best of Lee has to offer.
I'll be upfront in saying that I don't think that Netflix or Amazon will stand a chance in this year's Oscars consideration. The novelty of seeing streaming services compete against a tried and true model feels like something that will take years to break. Even if Beasts of No Nation is by most accounts (not me) an amazing film, I don't know that it has the weight to compete beyond upsetting theaters that suffered from low turnout. At most, these will be films that give incentive for other great directors to get involved. Even then, the magic of seeing a movie in theaters is an unsurpassed bliss for most cinephiles the likes of which have only been ruined by technology, attention spans, and escalating ticket prices.
There's something more appealing about Lee, largely because he is one of those great, legendary directors who has done his time. While it is arguable as to whether his later films are as great, he has never lost his ambition. He always offers something authentic to his passion as one of the few household black filmmakers. That alone should be applauded. With that said, I'm a little behind on his filmography. What I've seen, I generally have enjoyed. However his last film (Da Sweet Blood of Jesus) wasn't my favorite. Still, he's as much true to depicting the black experience as he is to challenging film distribution, which I think makes Chiraq more exciting than Cary Fukunaga's approach. Also, the cast is just far more compelling.
Check out the trailer below:
I must say that it looks REALLY good. Here's the plot according to IMDb:
A modern day adaptation of the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, set against the backdrop of gang violence in Chicago.
For starters, I think that there's something endearing about having Samuel L. Jackson as a narrator (?) figure, who seems to treat the entire film as his stage show. It's a novelty concept that I think actually adds an abrasive personality to the film. I also think that the energy and passion shine heavily in this trailer, making at least seem like a lively affair. I don't know that I am totally aware of what is going on, but Lee definitely knows how to stimulate. It could just be that Jackson's moments are so immediate, but I was hooked into this trailer early and able to just enjoy what looks to be one of the more authentic films about lower class culture to come out in awhile. It may even be a profound commentary. I'm not sure. I just know that it looks really, really good. Welcome back, Spike Lee. We've missed you.