Joanne’s Picks

This page is just for fun and ever-changing (with the exception of the late Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin who has been archived here). I’m Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse. I like books (and you might like mine), I like music, I like movies, I like TV. So, I’m just sharing some of what I like. Keep checking back as I’m always keeping things fresh.

*warning*possible spoilers*

Black American film auteur Spike Lee’s Blackkklansman being topical and much anticipated (by me), I thought I’d revisit my top 10 favourite Spike Lee directed film (especially since some of my faves aren’t showing up on some of these other top 10 list dey ’bout). I’m talking ’bout:

10. Inside Man – it was entertaining (and had an interesting twist) and included two of my faves Spike regular Denzel and (she doesn’t work nearly enough) Jodie Foster. With a side of Chiwetel Ejiofor.

9. Get on the Bus – a bus full of men from different walks of life en route to the Million Man March. Not box office gold but a solid entry to the Spike Lee filmography. It has a documentary feel which is no disrespect to Spike’s actual documentaries (4 Little Girls, When the Levees Break etc.) but I really enjoyed the intricacies of the characters stories.

8. Jungle Fever – Yes, it was a bit overstuffed but it had some powerful moments in its bold handling of interracial dating – a topic which still gets bloods hot. People talk about Samuel Jackson’s performance in this and it was a great breakout performance but the performance that tugged at me, I have to admit, was John Turturro’s (which I remember as quiet and sad)…and, of course, the great Ruby Dee.

7. School Daze – I dealt with colourism in my book Musical Youth but did I have a song called “good and bad hair”? Did I? – sing it with me, “good and bad hair, good and bad hair, good and bad hair” and let’s not forget this is the joint that spawned the musical hit Doin tha Butt. In every way, for the culture, this is an important and too often overlooked film.

6. Do the Right Thing – My appreciation for this film has actually grown with time. I was there for Radio Raheim and for Public Enemy’s Fight the Power, but I didn’t get how prescient this film was (both in the black talent it brought in to the mainstream but that’s true of all Spike Lee films and in its topicality roughly 30 years later, and isn’t that a shame). And for those who were disappointed in the violence at the end (I heard this recently on an online news commentary network I used to watch), imagine how people living with institutionalized violence feel every damn day.

5. Malcolm X – I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X in university and saw this, I believe, around the same time. It was a powerful one-two punch. Denzel was robbed. #Oscarssowhite

4. The Original Kings of Comedy – you ever laughed so much you thought you might die, but you’d go laughing so it was alright. That’s the Original Kings of Comedy. RIP to the late Bernie Mac, ladies and gentlemen, Bernie Mac.

3, 2, 1. The music videos – no, that’s not a film but I’ve got to finish off with three music videos I love which happen to be directed by Spike – Anita Baker’s No One in the World which has a vintage feel and showcases her talent beautifully, Public Enemy’s Fight the Power, and the prison version of Michael Jackson’s They Don’t Really Care About Us (I love the Brazil version too but that prison version boom-bap-wow #radical).

Know this, that some of your favourites aren’t on this list because either they aren’t my favourites or I haven’t seen them yet, and others like Love and Basketball and Best Man are absented because they were produced but not directed by Spike. His filmography is uneven – when you are as prolific as he is, that’s inevitable. But Spike, flaws and all, ah fu we; don’t get it twisted.

Now here’s a bonus Doing Tha Butt. You’re welcome.