Sunday, July 12, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 19
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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review
13TH (2020)
BINGABLE: ABANDONED (2016)
BINGEABLE: Barry
BINGEABLE: CASA DE LAS FLORES
BINGEABLE: FLEABAG
BINGEABLE: GRACE AND FRANKIE
BINGEABLE: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTARIES
BINGEABLE: OUTLANDER (2014-present)
BINGEABLE: STRANGER THINGS 3
BINGEABLE: THE SINNER (SEASON 2)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: COOL RUNNINGS (1993)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: FISH TANK (2009)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: HOUSE
BLAST FROM THE PAST: OLDBOY
BLAST FROM THE PAST: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE MATRIX
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE PRESTIGE (2006)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: WILD AT HEART
BLOW THE MAN DOWN
DA 5 BLOODS
DICK TRACY (1990)
GUILTY PLEASURES: CHEER (2020)
HANNIBAL (2013-2015)
HAVE A GOOD TRIP: ADVENTURES IN PSYCHEDELICS
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM
I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE
I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK
JOJO RABBIT
JUST MERCY
MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN
RAMY
SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE (2011)
SLOMOTION@HOME Festival
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM
THE HIGH NOTE
THE LOVEBIRDS
THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON
THE VAST OF NIGHT
TV REVIEW: BOSCH
TV REVIEW: HOMECOMING
TV REVIEW: LENOX HILL
TV REVIEW: LITTLE AMERICA
TV REVIEW: MRS. AMERICA
TV REVIEW: PANDEMIC: HOW TO PREVENT AN OUTBREAK (2020)
TV REVIEW: RUN
TV REVIEW: SELF MADE: INSPIRED BY THE LIFE OF MADAM C.J. WALKER
TV REVIEW: SPACE FORCE
TV REVIEW: TABOO
TV REVIEW: THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD
TV REVIEW: THE LAST KINGDOM
TV REVIEW: THE MIDNIGHT GOSPEL
TV REVIEW: THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA
TV REVIEW: UNDONE
TV REVIEW: WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
TV REVIEW: ZEROZEROZERO
UNDERRATED: BATMAN BEGINS
UNDERRATED: DOUBLE DRAGON (1994)
UNDERRATED: SHUTTER ISLAND
UNDERRATED: THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL

Da 5 Bloods is an epic exploration of race, colonialism, and brotherhood

DA 5 BLOODS

PHOTO BY , COURTESY OF 40 ACRES & A MULE FILMWORKS

DA 5 BLOODS


Where is it playing?: Netflix

What's it rated?: R

What's it worth?: $Full price (Glen Starkey)

What's it worth?: $Full price (Anna Starkey)

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman, Malcolm X, Do the Right Thing) directs this story about four Vietnam Vets—Paul (Delroy Lindo). Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.)—who travel back to Vietnam to repatriate the remains of their squad leader, “Stormin’” Norman (Chadwick Boseman), with whom they hid a case of CIA gold before Norman was killed in a firefight. Along for the ride is David (Jonathan Majors), Paul’s only son. (154 min).

Glen: This epic, ambitious film finds Lee covering a lot of ground—from slavery and systemic racism in America, to American colonization and the immorality of war, as well as the current Black Lives Matter protests and Donald Trump’s divisive presidency—offering a history lesson wrapped in a crackling good war drama. The story moves back and forth from present to past, signaling the flashbacks via film stock and aspect ratio changes. Instead of confusing the audience with younger actors playing the four principal characters in the flashbacks, Lee makes the interesting choice of using the same middle-aged actors playing their decades-younger characters. Lee has never been one for subtlety, and here he paints in bold strokes and offers homage to some of Hollywood’s great films, from Apocalypse Now to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. He uses many of his signature techniques, from mixing in historical footage to double dolly shots to having actors—most notably Lindo’s Paul—break the fourth wall and speak directly to viewers in a Shakespearian soliloquy. Even though it clocks in at 2 1/2 hours, the narrative never lags. This is another potent entry into Lee’s ongoing artistic exploration of pervasive racism, and an excellent follow-up to BlacKkKlansman. Available for free with your Netflix subscription, if this shows up in theaters later, I’d pay to see it on the big screen—it’s that cinematic. Prepare yourself, however: There’s some grisly war violence.

Anna: I would definitely see this in the theater given the chance. With the film being the length that it is, it’s too easy to get distracted at home and press pause to go do this or that, and it’s just too good for that kind of viewing. I thought using the same actors to play their younger counterparts was actually pretty clever, especially since the older versions were retracing their steps through the jungles of Vietnam. Along for the trek is David, Paul’s son who is less than welcome by his father. Their relationship is complicated and strained, and Paul is not an easy man to deal with. He’s battling PTSD and inner demons, and the journey through his past isn’t helping to slay them. Lee has such a talent for weaving a huge narrative into both the big and little moments in a film, and Da 5 Bloods is another great show of his talent. You can’t help but feel a part of their shared story.

Glen: Paul is definitely the most fleshed-out and complicated character. He’s inexplicably an avid Trump supporter, and Lee intimates that his misguided support for a president whose racism is on the surface has more to do with Paul’s deep-seated anger and mental illness from his time in Vietnam, which seemed to scar him more than his compatriots. Yes, we find out why toward the end of the film. The heart of the film’s message is that young black Americans, who at home were being repressed by the white power structure, were drafted and forced to go far from home to repress others. It’s an irony that pervades the film right from the beginning, when Lee includes the Muhammad Ali interview in which he explained his refusal to be drafted: “My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father. Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.” It’s a powerful message.

Anna: War doesn’t end when the last bullet falls, that much is clear. All of these men have had to weave a life out of what they were left with after the war, some more successfully than others. What are they really there for? Is it just a lust for that gold they buried so long ago? It doesn’t seem so. They’re looking for something they lost in that same jungle—youth, innocence, their fallen brother buried there. It’s all pretty heartbreaking, and watching Paul circle into mania is not easy. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is reportedly Lee’s favorite film, and his love for it is evident here along with nods to Apocalypse Now. He’s an incredibly talented director. This film was originally written as four aging white vets revisiting Vietnam, and when Lee decided he liked the premise, he and his co-writer rewrote it into what we see on screen. I’m glad he got his hands on this script and made it into its final form. I’ll totally be doing a re-watch of this one at some point. 

New Times Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey write Sun Screen. Glen compiles streaming listings. Comment at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.








Weekly Poll
What'd you make of the county's decision to close beaches for the Fourth of July weekend?

It was sensible since counties to the south closed their beaches.
I was OK with it. I set off fireworks at home instead.
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It didn't matter. I went to SLO County.

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