Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Chi-Raq 

Wednesday, Dec 2 2015
Comments

The late Aristophanes would find little to laugh at if he caught a screening of Spike Lee's Chi-Raq. An adaptation of the ancient Greek comic playwright's Lysistrata, the movie relies upon several BCE conceits — rhyme, a chorus, and elaborate costumes — to tell the story of a contemporary Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris). The moll to a gangster (Nick Cannon), she convinces the women of Chicago's violent Southside — nicknamed Chi-Raq after Chi-Town's murder toll surpassed the number of Americans killed in Iraq — that the only way to bring peace to the streets is to deny their men any freakiness in the sheets. Unfortunately, however, in Lee's hands these conventions come off as self-conscious gimmicks that only distract from the narrative. Also noticeable is the absence of any focused topic, such as racism, which Lee tackled so thoroughly in early films Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, and Malcolm X. While Chi-Raq raises many complicated issues — sexism, unemployment, gun control, government corruption, war, and more — Lee has space enough only to glance upon them in the limited two-hour timespan. Worse, he does so in such a heavy-handed, didactic way by having characters emphatically rapping or preaching their perspectives at us. What Aristophanes left to interpretation using ambiguity and metaphor, Lee beats down our throats, which sucks any fun right out of the film.

Tags:

About The Author

Joshua Rotter

Comments


Comments are closed.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed
  1. Most Popular

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"