The polarized reception that greeted Spike Lee's Red Hook Summer at Sundance led to Lee ranting to an audience (and Chris Rock) about how studios "know nothing about black people"—a controversial moment that not only stunned those who haven't been listening to Spike Lee for the past 30 years, apparently, but also put the film's already-iffy chances for future distribution further in question. But the L.A. Times reports that Red Hook will get a wider release after all, with around 30 theaters expected to pick it up beginning August 10. Variance Films has bravely stepped in to handle the distribution of the movie, which is innocuously billed as a coming-of-age story that returns Lee to the "one hot summer in backstreet Brooklyn" milieu of early efforts like Do The Right Thing (a lineage Lee makes explicit by reappearing as that film's "Mookie," still delivering both pizzas and sociopolitical monologues).
But speaking of "explicit," much of the complaints Red Hook received—the ones that didn't have to do with it being overlong, directionless, or tiresomely hectoring, anyway—has to do with a plot twist involving the young protagonist's preacher grandfather (The Wire's Clarke Peters), a twist that we won't spoil but whose nature you can probably guess. And while Variance president Dylan Marchetti says the film has been "tightened up a bit," which should help with those "overlong" complaints, none of those controversial, walkout-spurring scenes have been removed—which may even lead to it being unrated—meaning now the world beyond Sundance will get to have that same debate over whether Lee totally went off the rails with this one.
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