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10 Movies Director Recommends – IndieWire

There’s no joint quite like a Spike Lee joint, but what other films does the director love?

Across four decades and 30 films, Brooklyn-raised Lee has established himself as the type of director whose work cannot be duplicated. The traits that make a Spike Lee joint a Spike Lee joint are easy to spot: the fiery and often political theme, the mix of humor and drama, those iconic floating dolly shots, and an approach that touches everything but the kitchen sink to stylistic experiments.

Lee’s fearlessness as a director makes for an intriguing blend of filmography. The author has at least three undeniable masterpieces under his belt: 1989’s Do the Right Thing, a searing drama about police brutality and racism; 1992’s “Malcolm X,” an epic starring Denzel Washington as the civil rights leader; and 2002’s 25th Hour, the greatest film portrait of life in post-9/11 New York. Depending on who you ask, many of his other films – She’s Gotta Have It, 4 Little Girls, Inside Man, BlacKKKlansman and Da 5 Bloods – are also considered great and negatively received films such as “Bamboozeled” and “School Daze” have since been re-evaluated and approved by critics.

Even Lee’s failures (and it’s hard to deny he has failures) are usually worth watching, whether it’s his “oldboy” remake or not. “She Hate Me” and “Girl 6” are undeniably raw, but they’re clearly personal works that only Lee could have done, and smaller titles like “Mo’ Better Blues” and “Chi-raq” have their strengths that make it are worth defending.

It’s unclear when Lee will return to theaters after his latest film, Da Five Bloods, hits Netflix in 2020. He has three projects in the series — hip-hop Romeo & Juliet, which retells Prince of Cats, Viagra creation musical Boner, and Broadway satire Da Understudy — but none have started filming , and the fate of ‘Da Understudy’ seems up in the air after star Jonathan Majors was arrested on domestic abuse charges. All that’s guaranteed is that when Lee makes his next film, it’s definitely going to be an event.

Unlike Martin Scorsese, for example, Lee is not the type of filmmaker who talks openly or often about his favorite films; He is one of the most acclaimed American directors not to have voted for Sight and Sound’s 2022 Greatest Movies poll. One of the most notable times he’s spoken publicly about what he considers excellent cinema of all time got him in hot water. In 2013, Lee published a list of 87 “essential” films that he makes available to his students at New York University’s film school each year; As many noted, exactly one film, City of God, was the work of a female director (Kátia Lund). Lee eventually apologized and added eight films by women filmmakers to the list, including Jane Campion’s The Piano and Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust.

Still, the films that Lee has discussed as his influences are truly great, and they offer an insight into the master’s approach to his craft. For example, it’s not shocking that a director as politically minded as Lee would be drawn to the films of Elia Kazan, whose “On the Waterfront” and “A Face in the Crowd” influenced his approach to form. Other movie favorites include widely respected staples like Rashomon and Lawrence of Arabia, cult classics like Ganja & Hess, and Sean Connery’s run as James Bond.

Here’s a list of just nine of Lee’s favorite films plus one fantastic TV show, compiled from interviews the director has given over the years. Entries are listed in no particular order.


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