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DVD - Spike Lee Box Set (4 stars)

Spike Lee Box Set

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(18) 1086min (Universal DVD retail)

DIRECTOR COLLECTION

Spike Lee was 50 on March 20 and this nine disc box set has been released to celebrate the occasion. It is an odd collection that reeks of commercialism with the films - School Daze, Do The Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Crooklyn, Clockers, Get On the Bus, She Hate Me and Inside Man - released in an effort to clear some surplus stock. There are no new extras and the absence of three of Lee’s pivotal works She’s Gotta Have It, Malcolm X and Bamboozled is telling. As for the films themselves, they highlight the best and worst of this, the most important of living American directors. Lee is much celebrated for his African-American characters but what is clear in this collection, especially in Do The Right Thing and Jungle Fever is that he is equally adept at portraying other ethnic minority groups, in this case Italian-Americans. Get On the Bus about the 1996 Million Man March is an undervalued work. On the flipside She Hate Me and School Daze highlight Lee’s occasional tendency to ramble and labour a point.

Another great absence is Lee’s masterful collection of documentaries, noticeably 2001’s four little girls and last year’s When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts about the municipal disgrace that was the US government’s handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Still these criticisms come with the major caveat that much of Lee’s minor work is of a quality that most filmmakers can only dream. Long may he continue.

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