It can be frustrating writing reviews from my relatively remote outpost (of course, there are greater frustrations here these days than that minor inconvenience). I’m reliant on studios that are willing to send out DVD screeners, and that’s a little harder to come by in the day of prolific online piracy. There are often weeks when the film I’m most interested (or best equipped) to review flatly isn’t available to me. And then there are weeks like this one. I tried and tried and tried to select a film from the limited release offerings that might have a screener and I was shot down on every last one, finally asking the editor-in-chief to have sent to me whatever he could get. The film I wound up with was absolutely one of the most intriguing new releases for the week, but also one I’d rather have had more background knowledge before I took it on. Ideally, I would have been more familiar with the author whose seminal work inspired the film, but luckily it’s an abstract enough documentary that it ultimately may not have mattered.
I also contributed my first entry to our new Oeuvre series, this time focusing on the work of director Spike Lee. I was actually the one who suggested that Lee as the next filmmaker we examined, figuring it might be nice to spend time with a more contemporary creator after our months tracking through the filmography of Samuel Fuller. I deliberately avoided asking for the earlier, better known works (I’ve weighed in on Do the Right Thing recently enough) and was lucky enough to have my first assignment be a film I was especially keen to revisit.