Spike Lee's Chi-Raq is a biting depiction of America's gun culture.

Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq is a biting depiction of America’s gun culture.
Film was produced by Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions.

Here’s Spike Lee at his ballsiest. […] Too much? You bet. Spike doesn’t know when to quit, which I think is part of his gift. He’s in the pulpit from Minute One when we hear Cannon rap “Pray 4 My City” as the screen flashes the words: “THIS IS AN EMERGENCY.” Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has already voiced his objections, which will only fuel the film’s fire. Don’t know if that sex strike business will take off on a global scale, but Spike thrives on raising hell. Preach, brother. – Peter Travers [Rolling Stone]

DISCUSSING HIS new film Chi-Raq with Chris Hayes, Spike Lee describes it as “heightened reality.” It is a raucous piece of cinematic art that I found to be one of Lee’s very best and most audacious films.

Chicagoans have been critical and they’re entitled to be, but as sharply trained as Lee’s lens is on Chicago’s South Side, the scope ends up being much wider than the city in which it is set.

Chi-Raq is loosely based on the comedy Lysistrata, written by Aristophanes.

“No peace. No piece.” The women chant in Chi-Raq, which started changing the world.

Film critic Richard Brody offers a review worth reading.

In building a movie about contemporary Chicago on ancient Greek foundations, Lee also builds on the mighty founding principles of political and philosophical thought. Far from mocking the subject or approaching it lightly, Lee takes on gun violence with a scathing seriousness that spares nobody—not the characters in the film and not its viewers. Just as Scorsese did, Lee turns his fierce gaze back at the members of the audience. Here, he forces us to consider the grim and gory pleasures that have, in the past, led us into those very seats to watch movies in which the violence that “Chi-Raq” decries is the very source of entertainment. [The New Yorker]

The film is artistically brave, and the timing… Great art benefits tremendously from serendipitous events.

President Obama is enlisting actors to stand up for ending gun violence in the U.S.

I couldn’t help but think of the turmoil in Chicago right now, the racial tensions.

Spike Lee perfectly packages the U.S. gun culture in a film with biting wit. The dark fable we’re watching on the screen we easily recognize because we live it every day through our television screens, knowing it’s much more personal to the victims and their dead.

Of course, I found a whole separate saga available in the sexual thread running through Chi-Raq. Wishing gun violence could be solved as easily as having a so-called “sex strike.” I’ve often said if everybody got laid more often we’d have a more peaceful world, so you can imagine how much I enjoyed this film. The notion that women have the power to change the world, because men need what we have so much, with love the foundational component that heals and reveals.

Who knew Spike Lee was such a romantic?

Some found this part of it offensive, with Ta-Nehisi Coates scoffing at the Lee’s “‘sex strikes’ myth.”

Playing through a Greek comedy was the perfect set up, and I took it to mean women have more power to change their communities than they think, especially if they band together. I do think that’s a wild over-simplification when you’re dealing with young men and even boys who have no future or hope out of a neighborhood they hate.

Chi-Raq daringly draws a very high fence around American gun violence, successfully taking some of the sting out of the topic on the way to hoping to wake people up.


CHI-RAQ Trailer from 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks on Vimeo.

Interview with Spike Lee

This post has been updated.