Daily Archives: February 26, 1988

School Daze

While it lacks the controlled energy and the sense of closure found in She’s Gotta Have It, Spike Lee’s second feature-length “film joint” is much more innovative, ambitious, and exciting: a full-scale tackling of class warfare within the black community, set in a mainly black college in Atlanta, that explodes in every direction. The conflicts are mainly between the light-skinned, upwardly mobile Wannabees, who belong to fraternities, and the dark-skinned Jigaboos, who feel more racial pride; the issues between them range from the college’s investment in South Africa to straight versus nappy hair (the latter highlighted in a gaudy, Bye Bye Birdie-style musical number). Lee, who seems slightly closer to the Jigaboos, takes care not to stack the deck on either side (although he’s less than friendly to the college administration); the movie’s address is basically to the black community, but white spectators looking for an education in black issues could do a lot worse than visit this movie and get pointers from the diverse factions in the black audience, who follow it almost like a sporting event. The film runs about two hours, and like Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, it’s definitely ragged around the edges; the musical numbers (scored by the writer-director-producer’s father Bill Lee) are extremely variable, and the overall continuity is fairly choppy. Read more

Fire From the Mountain

A stirring and informative account of the Sandinista struggle, made up almost exclusively of personal testimonies from Sandinistas, this documentary by Deborah Shaffer–who won an Oscar in 1985 for her Witness to War: Dr. Charlie Clements–is loosely based on Omar Cabezas’s book about his own training as a guerrilla fighter in response to the Somoza dictatorship. The physicality and mythical dimensions of the guerrillas’ experiences in the mountains are an important part of the story here, but the film includes much more: newsreel footage and Nicaraguan witnesses speak of American invasions throughout this century, and the commentaries of Cabezas (now vice-minister of the interior of the new Nicaraguan government) and others are intelligent and pointed, moving beyond slogans to give a detailed portrait of their history, problems, and aspirations. Music is provided by bassist and composer Charlie Haden. (Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, Friday and Saturday, February 26 and 27, 7:00 and 9:00; Sunday, February 28, 5:30 and 7:30; and Monday through Thursday, February 29 through March 3, 7:00 and 9:00; 281-4114) Read more