they got game
Woody Allen and Diane Keaton; Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood; Tim Burton and Johnny Depp; Spike Lee and Denzel Washington...
Denzel Washington and Spike Lee on the set of 'Malcolm X', 1993
These great cinema partnerships are bound by mutual admiration, respect, trust and love. Long-term partners in crime Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro have a union of which Spike Lee has been heard to say (with Washington in mind), "I hope we catch them, and I hope we pass them."
What sets Lee apart from his contemporaries is his regular casting of African American actors - such as Washington, Wesley Snipes, Ossie Davis and Delroy Lindo - in roles that offer more than a token black presence; as Lee himself says, "I've been blessed with the opportunity to express the views of black people who otherwise don't have access to power and the media."
Kicking off tomorrow with Lee's 1989 breakout hit Do The Right Thing, Focus on Spike Lee is a career survey of the provocative, powerhouse filmmaker who brought black power to the big screen.
Undaunted by subject matter, Washington runs the gamut in his films with Lee - from trumpet-playing bandleader in Mo' Better Blues to the iconic civil rights leader in Malcolm X. Their most recent shared 'Spike Lee Joint' was the bank-heist-gone-wrong Inside Man, which came almost ten years after their previous collaboration, He Got Game.
Denzel said: "I was just happy that Spike called. It had been too long since the last time."
Do the right thing and don't miss this timely journey through a truly great director's work - starting this Friday 5 December, the program runs through 'til Sunday 14 December. Full screening details are here. Whilst you're there, check out our exclusive essay on Lee's work by New York University Associate Professor of Cinema Studies and Africana Studies, Ed Guerrero (or take the shortcut to the essay right here).
Published Thursday, 4 December 2008