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25 March 1993
Malcolm X 
directed by Spike Lee.
May 1993
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By Any Means Necessary: The Trials and Tribulations of the Making of ‘Malcolm X’ 
by Spike Lee and Ralph Wiley.
Vintage, 314 pp., £7.99, February 1993, 0 09 928531 2
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Malcolm X: The Great Photographs 
compiled by Thulani Davis and Howard Chapnick.
Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 168 pp., £14.99, March 1993, 1 55670 317 1
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... accurate, full of the exact looks of old icons, minutely close to many of the marvellous photographs collected in the Davis/Chapnick volume. ‘Authenticity is very important in any film,’ Lee says. ‘If you see a pack of cigarettes, we had to find old Chesterfields, or old whatever you might see in the shot.’ Denzel Washington manages not only uncannily to resemble Malcolm X but to ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Inside Man’, ‘V for Vendetta’

11 May 2006
Inside Man 
directed by Spike Lee.
March 2006
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V for Vendetta 
directed by James McTeigue.
March 2006
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... When there’s blood on the streets, buy property.’ This sturdy piece of advice becomes a refrain in SpikeLee’s new movie, Inside Man, where it is ludicrously literalised by the attempt of a bin Laden nephew to purchase an apartment in Manhattan, and grimly moralised in the story of an American banker who ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘BlacKkKlansman’

27 September 2018
... SpikeLee​ , as befits a film school graduate, is a master of montage. His cuts and juxtapositions often say more than his dialogue does, perhaps more than any dialogue could. This is especially marked in ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Fading Gigolo’

18 June 2014
Fading Gigolo 
directed by John Turturro.
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... too. But it entirely lacks the angry edge that marks the later Allen films and its quirkiness is quieter than even the quietest moments in the works of the Coen Brothers. Critics have mentioned SpikeLee too, and one can see the resemblances: the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan, the jazz in the soundtrack, the criss-crossing ethnic territories. But Lee’s films are fast and busy and Fading ...

Diary

Jeremy Harding: On the Tyson Saga

31 August 1989
... is still where millions of black people live. Mike Tyson spent the first two years of his life in a tenement in Bedford-Stuyvesant, the area of Brooklyn portrayed by the black American director, SpikeLee, in Do the Right Thing. When the family broke up, Mike’s mother Lorna was forced a little further down the ladder, her three children clinging on her back, until she reached Brownsville ...

Fisticuffs

Adam Lively

10 March 1994
The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness 
by Paul Gilroy.
Verso, 261 pp., £11.95, November 1993, 0 86091 675 8
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Small Acts: Thoughts on the Politics of Black Culture 
by Paul Gilroy.
Serpent’s Tail, 257 pp., £12.99, October 1993, 9781852422981
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... essays in Small Acts are rehearsals for The Black Atlantic, and there is a certain amount of repetition within the collection. But there are also valuable pieces on popular culture – Frank Bruno, SpikeLee, the iconography of album covers; and an emphasis on the relationship between race and nation, the possibility of Black Britishness, that ties it closer to his earlier There Ain’t No Black in ...
10 August 2000
In Search of Africa 
by Manthia Diawara.
Harvard, 288 pp., £17.50, December 1998, 0 674 44611 9
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... of American Modernism’. Detroit Red was closer to such a project than the converted revolutionary. The fourth ‘situation’ is a celebration of America’s black Hip-Hop culture and the films of SpikeLee. All this may seem like a thinly disguised celebration of Diawara’s own successful career in France and the United States, but the long, disturbing quest for Sidimé Laye tells a different ...

On Nicholas Moore

Peter Howarth: Nicholas Moore

23 September 2015
... since that’s what poetry always does. So the singing clowns who fail to amuse Baudelaire’s bored young prince reappear in Moore as Elvis, Charlie Chaplin, Dylan Thomas, Louis Armstrong, Brenda Lee or Spike Milligan. It’s now the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazis, Biafra, Mosley and the fashionable dramas of ‘Kitchen-Sink Sade-Marats’ whose atrocious crimes fail to turn the green waters of Lethe ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: The State of Statuary

20 September 2017
... memorials, ‘but … powerless to protect themselves, their only defence, like that of the blind, is our respect.’ Putting aside, for a moment, the vexed presences of Cecil Rhodes and Robert E. Lee, it is worth considering how many statues – the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association counts 925 in the UK – should continue to enjoy the protection of our respect. Should Charles James Fox ...

Mon Pays

Michael Rogin: Josephine Baker

22 February 2001
The Josephine Baker Story 
by Ean Wood.
Sanctuary, 327 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 1 86074 286 6
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Negrophilia: Avant-Garde Paris and Black Culture in the 1920s 
by Petrine Archer-Straw.
Thames and Hudson, 200 pp., £14.95, September 2000, 0 500 28135 1
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... scale military funeral, and yet it was contaminated at every major turn. Begin with blackface, a deeply contentious subject which has recently been in the news again. The reason on this occasion is SpikeLee’s brilliantly corrosive satire, Bamboozled. Pressed to improve the ratings of the network at which he is the only black staff writer, Pierre Delacroix (Damon Wayans) comes up with the idea of ...

Bad White Men

Christopher Tayler: James Ellroy

19 July 2001
The Cold Six Thousand 
by James Ellroy.
Century, 672 pp., £16.99, April 2001, 0 7126 4817 8
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... USA’ trilogy. The title is a tribute to Sam Fuller, who directed the film of the same name, but the initial impetus came – as Ellroy frequently acknowledges – from Libra, Don DeLillo’s Lee Harvey Oswald novel. American Tabloid, the first of the new sequence, runs from 1958 to the Kennedy assassination in 1963. Like Libra, it tries to ‘follow the bullet trajectories backwards to the ...

Diary

Jenny Turner: ‘T2 Trainspotting’

16 February 2017
... which was neglected … until much damage had been done.’ On the most recent published survey of the Edinburgh Addiction Cohort, 228 of the 794 Muirhouse heroin-users had died by 2007, with a spike in HIV deaths, just as Trainspotting was being published, in the mid-1990s. No formal follow-up has been published since 2010, but Robertson says that ‘a lot of the latest updates are increasing ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Notes on 1997

1 January 1998
... reiterate it.’ 13 January. Liam Gallagher, the younger of the Oasis brothers, has the kind of eyes in which the pupils are half-hidden under the eyelids; as if the eyes had stopped between floors. SpikeLee has similar eyes, which I find attractive, maybe because they give a sense of inhabiting worlds other than this; they are, of course, irritating for exactly the same reason. A call from Barry ...

More Pain, Better Sentences

Adam Mars-Jones: Satire and St Aubyn

7 May 2014
Lost for Words 
by Edward St Aubyn.
Picador, 261 pp., £12.99, May 2014, 978 0 330 45422 3
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Books 
by Charlie Hill.
Tindal Street, 192 pp., £6.99, November 2013, 978 1 78125 163 8
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... that everyone immediately turns inside out, since the lining is the only interesting part. St Aubyn’s chair of judges, a backbench MP called Malcolm Craig, shows no overlap with either Hermione Lee (2006) or Robert Macfarlane (2013). The Elysian judges for 2013 are Jo Cross, a columnist whose criterion for imaginative literature is its ‘relevance’; Penny Feathers, retired from the Foreign ...

King of Razz

Alfred Appel Jr: Homage to Fats Waller

9 May 2002
... song. He is surprisingly hard on the sweet little melody, with its banal – or cute (a close critical call) – rhyme scheme: ‘Mandy’, ‘handy’, ‘dandy’. Waller trills ‘Lalala-lee-lo’ quite sarcastically and scrambles the lyrics with an indescribable gurgling sound. ‘Mandy’ was featured in a new Eddie Cantor movie, Kid Millions, and the recording aimed to capitalise on ...

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