I'm not a nervous flier, and I thought that, based on what we saw in the trailer, I was prepared for the plane crash in the first act of Flight. I was not. I will always remember Flight for eliciting a reaction in me that no other movie ever has: That crash sequence was so terrifying that it made me cry.
Fortunately, I had lots of time to recover my composure; following the crash, the movie goes on for a couple more hours (the run time is 138 minutes, but it sure felt longer) as pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington, who's been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his performance) deals with the fallout from the crash. Is he a hero for coming up with a solution to land the plane that saved almost everyone on it? Or is he a villain for doing so with (spoiler) the help of a variety of intoxicants, both legal and not? As strong as that crash sequence is, by the end you can barely remember it was in the same movie as this long, depressing addiction drama.
Silver: As a filmmaker, Spike Lee is at his best when he’s not directing a film he wrote. Clockers, 25th Hour, and Inside Man are Spike’s best work because in these films he’s a hired gun, and has no other options but to act as a pure storyteller. His tendency to veer into self-righteousness is kept in check by his producers (Martin Scorsese on Clockers, Edward Norton on 25th Hour, and Brian Grazer on Inside Man). Sure, there are exceptions — films that he’s written and directed like He’s Got Game or even Bamboozled work because it’s evident that Spike has something personal to say and visualized how he’s going to say it, and is not just preaching. Based on the trailer, I believe Red Hook Summer to be one of the exceptions. It feels very “Spike”, with its melodramatic music, flash cuts to handheld 16mm, and shots of forlorn folks looking directly into the camera, but what intrigues me is that Red Hook Summer appears to be a coming-of-age story. It’ll be interesting to see how Spike sees “today” through the eyes of children. I have no doubt that this film will be divisive and in some way filled with controversy (Spike wouldn’t want it any other way), but this one looks like it’ll be worth the time.