• Crooklyn starts with a swooping crane shot capturing summer life in Brooklyn in 1973 with “People Make the World Go Round” from The Stylistics. Nostalgia reigns as a swoon-worthy montage shows children play double dutch, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, and dumping copious amounts of sugar into their lemonade.
  • This story is written by Spike and his siblings and is loosely based on their life growing up though the main protagonist is young Troy (Zelda Harris). Like much of Spike’s work, the dialogue overlaps in loud, realistic, often combative exchanges. The father and mother (the fabulous Delroy Lindo and Alfre Woodard) have a colossal fight. Lindo plays a struggling musician (Lee’s real life father was a struggling musician).

The music selected to accompany the drama is spot on. Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield’s Pusherman” as Snuffy (played by Spike himself) is huffing glue. At the 17-minute mark there is a great sequence of the camera tilting upside down to capture Snuffy’s nefarious character. Spike clearly loves this world- “Everyday People” from Sly and the Family Stone—this is both realism and wistfulness. This is Spikes’s Amarcord or Radio Days.

  • Spike’s camera is floating in on their bed after the epic fight at the 41-minute mark
  • At the 56-minute mark Spike uses his trademark double dolly shot—this time of Troy’s dream
  • A masterful formal choice in Crooklyn takes place when Troy goes to the country at the 68-minute mark. Spike distorts the image by shooting it in widescreen without anamorphically adjusting the image. This caused a mini uproar in 1994 – to the point where many theaters had to put a little disclaimer up letting audiences know that this was a choice from the artist. It ties formally because Troy is used to the hustle and bustle and speed of the city. The country (visiting extended family) has less arguments, it is quieter, it is cleaner—it is “too slow” according to Troy. This is a variation of the formal choices in The Wizard of Oz going to color, A Matter of Life and Death from the Archers. Soderbergh would do something similar in 2000’s Traffic when he vacillates between the United States and Mexico.

a bold formal choice- tied directly to content

Spike’s trademark double dolly shot

  • At the 103-minute mark – “O-o-h Child” from The Five Stairsteps as Spike’s camera drifts down for the funeral from the top of the church to a great frame composition of the family walking to a car.
  • Another double dolly of Spike- he seems to want to put himself as an actor in these shots (Mo’ Better Blues as well).
  • Near the end- another sublime composition with Troy and her father (Lindo) framed by the doorway- about 60% of the frame is blocked off as she sits on his lap.
  • At the 109-minute mark Spike is back to capturing the chaotic block in Brooklyn—his camera boomerangs back to Troy in a dazzling finish—and the credits roll.
  • Highly Recommend- top 10 of the year quality film