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Passing Strange
     

Passing Strange

5.0 1
Director: Spike Lee

Cast: Stew, Daniel Breaker, de'Adre Aziza

 
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Spike Lee turns his camera toward the stage for this filmed performance of the acclaimed Broadway musical by singer/songwriter Stew and his creative partner Heidi Rodewald. Developed at the Sundance Theater Lab, the story follows a young black man from Los Angeles as he attempts to

Overview

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Spike Lee turns his camera toward the stage for this filmed performance of the acclaimed Broadway musical by singer/songwriter Stew and his creative partner Heidi Rodewald. Developed at the Sundance Theater Lab, the story follows a young black man from Los Angeles as he attempts to make sense of the conflicted cultural signals constantly bombarding him from all sides. Raised in a religious household somewhere south of Interstate 10, the frustrated adolescent feels suffocated by his mother's fixation on family ties, her unwavering devotion to the church, and her unapologetically bourgeois aspirations in life. He longs to experience something "real" in life, ultimately making the decision to follow in the footsteps of James Baldwin and Josephine Baker by traveling to Europe and exploring the world. From outrageous Amsterdam to ultra-militant Berlin, the impressionable wanderer experiences misadventures with sex, drugs, politics, and art as his eyes are opened ever wider to the world around him.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
While the end credits indicate that Passing Strange is "A Spike Lee Joint," Lee's role in this cinematic adaptation of the hit Broadway show is essentially that of a glorified cameraman. It is a testament to the vivacity of this relentlessly dynamic musical that Lee does his best to remain conspicuously absent from the performance. In fact, the few moments when he actively attempts to make his presence felt -- by throwing in some superfluous camera effects -- are among the film's only weak points. The singular star of this endeavor is Stew, the critically acclaimed and popularly neglected musician who wrote and created the original show. Stew co-wrote the almost ubiquitous rock & roll score (along with Heidi Rodewald) and is constantly on-stage in a role perhaps best described as a modern, musical version of the benshi, the Japanese performers who used to provide animated narration for films during the silent era. As if this load were not sufficiently stressful for Stew, he is also the subject of the show, which depicts his idealistic attempts to forge a genuine identity through various forms of artistic expression. While there is a discernible narrative, as a young Stew (played by another actor, Daniel Breaker) struggles through the monotony of a suburban adolescence before emerging as a somewhat specious artist in Europe, the defining structure of the film is provided by song, rather than story. By adding electrifying music to his personal memories and emotions, Stew has granted them universal significance, until his intrepid quest for authenticity begins to take on hints of transcendent wisdom. At the height of the show-stopping musical numbers, neither the camera nor the stage can contain the choreographed chaos of the frantic dancing bodies, as the invigorating sonic chords and the pulse of chanted choruses combine into an anthem, whose energy and relevance shifts and swells with every repetition. There are moments when it seems that the secret to a fulfilled existence as an artist might just burst from the side of Stew's head like some Athena, and start grooving alongside the performers. The good news is that Passing Strange is the most compelling, the most vibrant, and probably the most magnificent piece of musical theater in recent memory. The bad news is that, as with any self-reflexive, kinetic event, the power of its effects demonstrate the law of diminishing returns, such that the performers themselves are positively drenched in the experience, and the live audience is delirious from their participation, while those relegated to seeing Passing Strange only as cinema may merely hum the tunes while they walk out of the theater, before surrendering to the next set of distractions.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/12/2010
UPC:
0030306951997
Original Release:
2008
Rating:
NR
Source:
Ifc Independent Film
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
2:15:00
Sales rank:
68,028

Special Features

Interviews; Behind the scenes; Theatrical promo

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Stew Narrator
Daniel Breaker Youth
de'Adre Aziza Edwina,Marianna,Sudabey
Eisa Davis Mother
Colman Domingo Mr. Franklin,Joop,Mr. Venus
Chad Goodridge Terry,Christophe,Hugo
Rebecca Jones Sherry,Renata,Desi

Technical Credits
Spike Lee Director,Producer
Barry Alexander Brown Editor
Ken Greif Executive Producer
Larry Horn Executive Producer
Steve Klein Executive Producer
Will Kohane Executive Producer
Matthew J. Libatique Cinematographer
David Miller Associate Producer
Janet Pailet Associate Producer
Heidi Rodewald Score Composer
Stew Score Composer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Passing Strange
1. Prologue (We Might Play All Night) [3:19]
2. Baptist Fashion Show [4:58]
3. Church Blues Revelation/Freight Train [6:21]
4. Mr. Franklin and Brown Sugar [4:12]
5. Arlington Hill [9:36]
6. Sole Brother [3:29]
7. Must Have Been High [5:23]
8. Mom Song [2:43]
9. Merci Beaucoup, M. Godard [4:25]
10. Amsterdam [5:09]
11. Keys (It's Alright) [8:25]
12. We Just Had Sex [2:45]
13. Stoned [5:54]
14. Intermission [:49]
15. Berlin: A Black Hole With Taxis [1:15]
16. May Day (There's a Riot Going Down) [2:57]
17. What's Inside is Just a Lie/And Now I'm Ready to Explode [6:36]
18. Only Love is Real [6:01]
19. The Ghetto [4:23]
20. Identity [4:46]
21. The Black One [3:12]
22. Come Down Now [4:04]
23. Christmas in Berlin [7:20]
24. Youth's Unfinished Song/Work the Wound [4:40]
25. Passing Phase [6:08]
26. Cue Music/Love Like That [6:08]
27. It's Alright (Reprise) [6:13]
28. End Credits [4:32]

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Passing Strange 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago