Pssst, want to check out Da 5 Bloods in our new look?
- 154 min.
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Spike Lee while watching The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
"This movie is good but it needs more Marvin Gaye."
Despite being an angry movie, this might be Spike's most uplifting joint. Give all the awards to Delroy Lindo.
Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods is certainly about THIS moment in time, but he plays a lot of tricks with form that also tells us THIS moment? It's been going on for decades. As four friends go back to Vietnam to find a lost comrade's remains and (uh oh) the government gold they buried in the jungle, Lee fiddles with the aspect ratio, uses the actors as they are in flashbacks (though I do question people who were in Vietnam 50 years before looking this young in the present), and drops in pictures and footage as if this were a documentary. It can be distracting, but works as a manifestation of memory and of course PTSD. I'm most critical of his use of gory file footage and photography to ambush the viewer in what is, despite the added layers of meaning, a heist movie in the style of Three Kings or Kelly's Heroes (with The Treasure of the Sierra Madre thrown in). Especially in the case of the Vietnamese, a people the film paints as brutalized just as African-Americans are, I don't think those images "belong" to the film maker, and just brutalize more. When he talks about the black experience in Vietnam, Lee is on surer footing. I like the specificity that seems denied white-led Vietnam films (and Lee quotes a lot from them, Apocalypse Now chief among them), and a number of subplots find their roots in that specificity. As for the caper, it can be fun, but it's also quite frustrating because one of the guys is his own worst enemy. There's always an asshole in these kinds of things, I guess, and in this case he's the (unlikely) Trump voter. Not coincidentally, because he embraces, greed, selfishness, paranoia and hate, he's going to be the one to derail everything. More than a political cheap shot, this is part of a moral fable about the greater good, and only Delroy Lindo's considerable talent keeps the character from being totally unsympathetic. He's suffering, and he gets a moment of grace at the end, but he's pretty unforgivable. Well, I guess that's up to you.
Delroy Lindo might end up with a different piece of gold after this: A gold Oscar statue. He deserves it.
While not quite as cleancut and focused as BlackKklansman, Da 5 Bloods has an inner strength through its connection to Black History and the Black Rights movement throughout America (indeed Vietnam is implied as modern slavery), that give it a quiet gravitasse that sustains it.
Plus Delroy Lindo is great. Clarke Peters carries the film though.
to see which of your friends have seen this movie!