Spike Lee’s ‘Band of Bruthas’


After film legend Clint Eastwood released his twin war epics about the battle of Iwo Jima, black director Spike Lee voiced his unhappiness with the academy award nominated movie’s http://www.wvwnews.net/story.php?id=4679."

Lee’s criticism is strange because the only black Marines at Iwo Jima were part of a munitions company delivering ammunition to combat units, and there were of course absolutely none in the Imperial Japanese forces. If Lee believes cooking or driving trucks is stuff of movie heroes it may go a long way in explaining his latest flop, “Miracle at St. Anna”, a fictional portrayal of a “band of bruthas” combating Nazis and their own racist officers in Italy.

One must assume that any black product http://www.wvwnews.net/story.php?id=3203 is unwilling to praise to high heaven must be a real stinker. NPR’s review, while trying to convince the listening audience of the “need” for black WWII heros, couldn’t keep “Miracle at St. Anna” from sounding like a pretentious student film with an axe to grind.At 2 hours and 40 minutes in length, Lee has plenty of time to explore his favorite stereotypes such as black moral and physical superiority, and white envious malevolence.

From the NPR review:

…It tells of a unit caught behind enemy lines; their white American commander, refusing to believe they’ve made the progress against enemy troops they say they have, shells their position. The result is a bloodbath that leaves a river running red with the blood of perhaps a dozen black soldiers.

For Lee, somehow, this sets up a story that almost immediately lurches into moments of broad comedy and even broader sentiment.

Most of the latter involve a big, superstitious soldier named Train (Omar Benson Miller) and a shell-shocked Italian boy (Matteo Sciabordi) he befriends. When the boy starts calling his protector a “chocolate giant” — he even licks Train to see if he tastes like cocoa — well, at that point the director’s headed into territory so precious it’s hard to find a way back to the film’s more serious themes.

Some of those themes are familiar from Lee’s other films, while others — the suggestion, for instance, that the Nazis appreciated the capabilities of these black troops more than their white commanders did — are freshly provocative.

But nearly all the film’s thematic points get scattered as screenwriter James McBride, adapting his own novel, lets the story drift off in six directions at once, filling the screen with stereotyped German creeps and peppy Italian resistance fighters, a love triangle involving two American soldiers and an Italian siren (Derek Luke, Michael Ealy and Valentina Cervi), two dueling sets of religious superstitions and one magical resurrection… All that, plus an overwrought, tear-stained epilogue.

Even in a film that clocks in at a quasi-epic 2 hours and 40 minutes, that’s just too much narrative. And matters aren’t helped by the fact that Lee, who has never staged battle sequences before, hasn’t quite got the rhythms or camera angles right.