Children's Literature - Kathleen KarrSpike Lee is an interesting, innovative black filmmaker. As this biography takes pains to point out, Lee is not, however, an easy person. Haskins takes the reader through Lee's middle-class African-American childhood in Brooklyn, his college years, and his attempts and success at making movies. Stressed are the difficulties of cobbling together the millions of dollars needed to produce and direct a film, as well as Lee's efforts at opening the industry to black talent. All of Lee's provocative films to date are described. This is an in-your-face sort-of book about an equally aggressive, in-your-face individual.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 7 UpThis well-rounded, informative portrait of the filmmaker is appealing and engaging to read. Lee's Brooklyn childhood is chronicled, as are his college days and film-school experiences. Haskins offers insight into his subject's relationship with his family and other factors that shaped him as a youth. The majority of the discussion, of course, is devoted to his professional career and fierce determination to succeed. His abilities as a shrewd marketer and entrepreneur, the controversies nearly all of his films have generated, and the filmmaker's tireless work as an advocate for more opportunities for black artists are also discussed. Black-and-white stills from Lee's films and candid photos appear in a center insert. Fans will welcome this biography, and those unfamiliar with the man will find it an enlightening introduction. K. Maurice Jones's Spike Lee and the African-American Filmmakers (Millbrook, 1996) looks at the director specifically in the context of the history of African-American film. For biographical information, Haskins's book is the better choice.Edward Sullivan, New York Public Library
Kirkus ReviewsA biography that is fascinating because its subject is fascinating. Spike Lee is well known for his controversial statements and combativeness, especially over his work. Haskins (Power to the People, 1997, etc.) demonstrates these aspects of the artist and businessman with research from primary sources (Lee's published comments on his own work), as well as from many secondary sources (among these, Haskins quotes Rolling Stone quoting The New York Times without indicating if he went to the original source). Descriptions of Lee's films are included, from the earliest, She's Gotta Have It to his acclaimed Malcolm X, and up through Get on the Bus. Anyone interested in a career in film will learn a great deal from the book, but it is also invaluable in planting the seeds for enterprise of any kind: Politics, money struggles, deal-making, fund-raising, and public relations are just some of the issues for readers to ponder.
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