Tag Archives: Spike Lee


COLCOA—the annual French film festival in Los Angeles—gets off to a dynamic start this week with the local premiere of Ladj Ly’s acclaimed banlieue drama LES MISÉRABLES, which won the Prix du jury at the 2019 Festival de Cannes and will represent France at the Academy Awards in February.

Inspired by the work of Spike Lee, Jacques Audiard, Raymond Depardon, and Mathieu Kassovitz’s La Haine, Ly’s debut feature tracks the power games and unchecked aggression between the gangs of Clichy-Montfermeil and three of the cops—played by Djebril Zonga, Alexis Manenti, and Damien Bonnard—attached to the district. Jeanne Balibar co-stars as the police chief.

It’s easy to live with each other when you have money. When you don’t, it’s a lot more complicated: you need compromises, arrangements, little deals… It’s a matter of survival. For the cops too, they are in survival mode. [With] LES MISÉRABLES, I’ve tried to be as fair as possible… I was ten years old when I was first stopped and searched by the police, which tells you how well I know cops, how long I’ve lived close by them.Ladj Ly

On opening night, the director will be joined by cast members Zonga and Bonnard for a post-screening conversation. Bonnard will return on Friday for the encore presentation.


Monday, September 23, at 7:30 pm.

Friday, September 27, at 5 pm.

Directors Guild of America

7920 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.

Ladj Ly, Les Misérables (2019), stills, from top: 2018 World Cup victory celebration in Paris, which opens the film; Damien Bonnard (left), Alexis Manenti, and Djebril Zonga; banlieue residents; Zonga, in front of wall mural by JR—part of the artist’s 28 Millimètres, Portrait of a Generation series—depicting Ladj Ly holding video camera; confrontation between Manenti and banlieue resident; young actors; film scene. Images courtesy and © the filmmaker, the actors, the producers, Wild Bunch, and Amazon Studios.


On Saturday night, Spike Lee will introduce the screening of a rare 70mm print of his magnum opus MALCOLM X, starring Denzel Washington in the title role.

This American Cinematheque presentation is part of a brief weekend series of Lee films at the Egyptian, and the director will be on hand for discussion on both days.


Saturday, December 8, at 7:30 pm.


Sunday, December 9, at 7:30 pm.

Discussion with Spike Lee between films.

Egyptian Theatre

6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles.

Top: Denzel Washington and Spike Lee in Malcolm X.; Washington; Delroy Lindo (left) and Washington.


The magnitude of talent on display in STORMY WEATHER (1943, directed by Andrew L. Stone) is such that it might be possible to overlook—for the 78-minute running time of the film—the cringe-making hoops Hollywood put black stars through during its so-called “Golden Age.” (See Spike Lee’s explosive satire Bamboozled, from 2000.)

Ostensibly a breezy, fictionalized biopic of dancing great Bill “Bojangles” Robinson (starring Bojangles himself), the film features signature performances by Lena Horne and the Nicholas Brothers. (Fred Astaire called their “Jumpin’ Jive” number the greatest thing he had ever seen). Fats WallerCab Calloway and his orchestra, Katherine Dunham and her troupe, and Ada Brown are also on the bill.

STORMY WEATHER, Tuesday, September 12, at 1 pm.

BING THEATER, LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles.


Black and white photographs, from top:

Lena Horne and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson; Horne singing the title song; Robinson, Horne, and Cab Calloway.







“…Supermarkets, assembly-lines, teen-posts firmly shuttered, one after another. Old structures stand and rot in the sun….decrepit schools, poorly funded community services, inadequate health services, jammed low-income housing. It is the fallout that has firmly secured the media’s eye, not the abundant reasons for it.” — Lynell George, 1992*

To mark the 25 years since the uprising in April and May, 1992, the Hammer Museum and Roger Guenveur Smith present Spike Lee’s new Netflix film of Smith’s performance piece RODNEY KING. This is the ninth Smith–Lee collaboration, and is co-presented with the UCLA Department of History, and the UCLA Interdepartmental Program in Afro-American Studies.

Following the screening, there will be a Q & A with Smith—who wrote a performance piece in 1991 that predicted the events of the following year—and UC Santa Barbara Professor Stephanie Batiste. Join them afterwards for a reception in the Hammer’s courtyard, featuring a live DJ set by the film’s composer Marc Anthony Thompson (aka Chocolate Genius).


RODNEY KING, Tuesday, May 2, at 7:30 pm. Free.

HAMMER MUSEUM, Westwood, Los Angeles.


*Lynell George, No Crystal Stair: African–Americans in the City of Angels (New York: Verso, 1992), 4.

Roger Guenveur Smith in his one-man show Rodney King. Image credit: Craig Schwartz, Star-Tribune

Roger Guenveur Smith in his one-man show Rodney King.
Image credit: Craig Schwartz, Star-Tribune