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Crooklyn might not go down in Spike Lee's filmography as a thematically and technically important achievement, but it might be his most heartwarming and charming work. This makes sense, since it's pretty much an autobiographical film about growing up in 1970s Brooklyn, communicated through the rosiest of rose-colored glasses. Sure, he tackles some serious issues, like the drug use that permeated his neighborhood, but it's mostly a love letter to his youth, giving back to the borough that defined him as an artist and a person.
Zelda Harris is downright adorable as Troy, a precautious nine-year old firecracker who's beginning to truly discover her neighborhood and how it connects to his family made up of her four siblings, her teacher mother (Alfre Woodard), and her jazz musician father (Delroy Lindo) during 1973. The exuberant color scheme and the vision that makes Brooklyn look like a child's dream full of hidden wonders places the audience squarely in Troy's point-of-view. Even the occasional drama and tragedy is told through her imaginative perspective. Crooklyn also holds the distinction of employing the most surreal application of Lee's trademark "floating torso from the front" shot.
The film's vibrant colors and bright outlook is boosted beautifully by DP Ernest Dickerson's leftover style from Do The Right Thing, employing almost overexposed yellows to convey the scorching Brooklyn summer. Kino's 1080p transfer brings the film's visual enthusiasm to life, without having the colors bleed or resorting to too much digital scrubbing.
We get two DTS-HD options, 5.1 surround or 2.0 stereo. The 5.1 track certainly immerses us into the film's nostalgic world, letting the ‘70s soul and funk soundtrack reverberate across the channels. It's not a surround heavy mix, but it gets the job done as far as creating an exuberant feel is concerned.
We only get a handful of Trailers for Crooklyn and other Spike Lee joints.
For those who think Lee can be too heavy-handed and self-serious with his socially charged material, while appreciating his unique Brooklyn brand filmmaking, Crooklyn should provide a welcome respite. It's beautiful, charming, funny, and most importantly, nostalgic, in all the right ways.
Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com