When it comes to the coming-of age film, Spike Lee is not exactly the first director that comes to mind. However, with his 1994 sleeper hit, Crooklyn, I think he made one of the very best films about youth and family during a certain time and place. With an amazing soundtrack and great performances from Alfre Woodard, Delroy Lindo, and especially newcomer at the time, Zelda Harris (in her film debut), you get a classic that mostly hits all the right notes.
The story is set in Brooklyn, New York, 1973, when eight-year-old Troy Carmichael (Harris) tries to navigate growing up and surviving in a rather dysfunctional household, which includes her exhausted mother (Woodard), her sweetly inept father (Lindo), and her four brothers with whom she is always fighting. Through moments and vignettes, such as stealing her oldest sibling's nickel collection to buy ice cream and hides his basketball tickets; seeing her mom and a racist white man shouting at each other; a rather unpleasent family visit to Virginia (the most weirdly shot sequence in the film); and most heartbreaking, the death of her mother, she learns about the evils of the life, and realizes that the ones you can't stand are the ones you can't live without.
The new Blu-ray from Kino only has a theatrical trailer, and that's a shame because it would have been nice to have a commentary from Lee, interviews with Woodard, Lindo, and Harris, and a new conversation between all four of them. But still, if you happen to love the film, and Spike Lee in general, then this should be a good addition to your collection.
Other notable releases:
Doctor Sleep: Ewan McGregor plays the now-adult Danny Torrence, as he tries to protect a young girl with supernatural gifts from a cult that preys on children to remain immortal.
The House That Jack Built (Director's Cut): Matt Dillon plays a cunning and calculating serial killer in 1970's America, where he regards each of his murders as an of art itself.
Boyz N the Hood (4K): The late John Singleton's modern classic about three friends growing up in a very dangerous neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles.
Summer of Sam: Lee's depiction of the "Son of Sam" murders in New York City during 1977, where the often colorful residents live in fear and doubt each other.
The Nightingale: A young woman living in the 1820s seeks revenge against soldiers who brutally murdered her family.
Clockers: Lee's portrait of young drug pushers in Brooklyn living dangerous lives, while trying to survive their bosses and the cops out to get them.
Jungle Fever: Lee's story about a married black architect who has an affair with an Italian secretary, much to the chagrin of his family and friends.
Mo' Better Blues: Denzel Washington plays a jazz trumpeter who makes unsavory actions in both his public and romantic life. Also directed by Lee.
Waves: Two young couples try to find their way through the trials and tribulations of love and young adulthood.