Straight Outta Crooklyn: Spike Lee’s Ode to ’70s New York Screens on Jan. 24 on 35mm

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $2

Wednesday, January 24 @ 7:30 PM
Directed by Spike Lee • 1994
At its core, the semi-autobiographical Crooklyn is director Spike Lee’s love letter to his home borough. Set in the summer of 1973, it wistfully remembers a Brooklyn of hopscotch and baseball cards, of Black and Puerto Rican neighbors living in loud, contentious harmony, a Brooklyn where the local druggies huffed glue instead of smoking crack. It’s a pre-Giuliani paradise where a musician (Delroy Lindo) and a schoolteacher (Alfre Woodard) could afford both a brownstone and a car, the material resources for an almost quaint version of urban domesticity. Co-written with Lee’s siblings Joie and Cinqué, Crooklyn evokes childhood in the city: the film’s emotional center is eldest child and only daughter, 10-year-old Troy, whose perception of the world shapes the movie’s narrative and visual structure. It’s most jarringly highlighted in the visual distortion of scenes at Troy’s relatives’ house in the South, where she briefly stays; the image appears stretched as if projected with the wrong lens, ostensibly to reflect Troy’s feelings of being out of place. Meanwhile the film pulses with a soundtrack straight out of Soul Train, one of Troy’s favorite programs. Family matriarch Carolyn Carmichael may ask in a letter if Troy “isn’t glad to be away from these crazy people in Crooklyn, New York?”, but it’s clear she would never feel at home anywhere else. What New Yorker doesn’t pine for this version of Brooklyn? No wonder the film beat out more canonical choices from the likes of Scorsese to win the recent “One Film, One New York” contest. (JR)
115 min • Universal • 35mm from Universal
Short: “The Balloon Tree” (Ross Lowell, 1970) – 16mm – 10 min



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