Spike Lee had a message for the Sundance festival crowd at tonight’s world premiere of his new film, “Red Hook Summer”: “Please tell them that this is not a motherfucking sequel to ‘Do the Right Thing’!”
That’s what people had been saying, mostly to fill the vacuum of information surrounding the movie. All anyone seemed to know was that it was set in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, that it followed a 13-year-old boy (newcomer Jules Brown) and his preacher grandfather (played by ‘The Wire’ veteran Clarke Peters), and that it featured the return of Mookie, Lee’s pizza-delivering character from his trailblazing 1989 movie about tensions boiling over in the summer heat.
Lee, who took the stage for the post-screening Q&A draped in New York Giants regalia and immediately declared that the audience had “doubled the black population of Utah — maybe tripled it,” prefers to think of “Red Hook Summer” as “another installment in my great chronicles of Brooklyn,” a series that includes “She’s Gotta Have It,” Do the Right Thing,” “Clockers” and “Crooklyn.”
Religion is front and center throughout the film, but no one should worry that Lee will trade in his megaphone for a prayer book. “All the church stuff came from James McBride,” he said, referring to his co-writer and co-producer. “The only time I went to church was when my parents sent me down South.”
McBride said he and Lee had had “lots of very heated discussions” about the script, singling out a flashback scene that plays heavily into the film’s sure-to-be-controversial late-innings plot twist.