Red Hook Summer tells the story of Flik Royale (Jules Brown), a boy from Atlanta, who spends the summer in Brooklyn with his grandfather, Bishop Enoch Rouse (Clarke Peters). The two meet for the first time at the door of the grandfather’s apartment in the Red Hook housing project, and the grandfather quickly tries to convert his grandson into a follower of Jesus Christ. Flik endures the culture shock of inner-city living, while resisting his grandfather’s preaching ways, until he meets Chazz Morningstar (Toni Marie Lysaith), a girl his age, who shows him how to have fun in Brooklyn. The movie opens Aug. 10 in limited release.
I saw a screening of Red Hook Summer with about 50 black journalists and director Spike Lee in New Orleans at the National Association of Black Journalists convention. Fans of Lee’s work will recognize characters and directorial effects from his earlier films. The pacing is deliberate, as a ruinous story is revealed.
It was worth my 2 hours and 1 minute, mostly because I read books and view movies with the story in mind. I try to decide why the artist did this or didn’t do that, why it works or why it didn’t. For me, that adds an extra element of entertainment. Even if that had not been the case with Red Hook Summer, the hard turn the movie takes in the third act is important commentary on what’s happening in one of our largest and most-beloved institutions. If nothing else, this movie will force viewers to reflect on a sinister social problem. Check it out.