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Passing Strange

15 Mar

Passing Strange — directed by Spike Lee. Rock Musical. 135 minutes Color 2009.
★★★★★
The Story: A young black man seeks true life, and the tour takes him through lovers and nations, songs and dances and wild surprises.
~
There is nothing passing or strange about it. Instead?

Performance Paradise.

Spike Lee’s greatest film.

And the best record of an actual stage production I have ever seen.

It is a movie made with 14 cameras during three performances (including the last) of the Broadway stage production.

I have seen filmed stage productions, but will not claim to have seen all, and I have seen Spike Lee pictures, but will not claim to have seen all.

But what distinguishes this from all other filmed stage productions is that here the cameras are never content to see what the audience sees. Instead we and the cameras are on stage with the performers amidst the rollicking and indefatigable energy of the music, the dance, the play and the players.

And talented they are. But the cameras are just as talented. They throw us as film viewers into a wild beauty. It is vulgar and meritorious since, once again, Spike Lee has surrounded his talent around the zest, imagination, and particularities of black aliveness. What an honor, what a treat to see it heritaged here!

This is what Spike Lee has brought to us year after year, and here it is in quintessential form. I bow down before the brilliant eccentricity of the book, the acting, the dances, and the lyrics. The original stage direction of Annie Dorson has not been fooled with, nor has any of the original sets, costumes, and choreography. Lee disports his invisible cameras in what was already a masterpiece.

The writer of the book and lyrics and some of the music is Stew, who plays the ringmaster of the story. He and every player and musician in it are in the moment. They are vigorous, inventive, and fun — black vim at its most tireless and true!

There is much more to say about this, but I am speechless with praise. If my enthusiasm is the least catching, catch Passing Strange and praise me for a month once you have enjoyed yourself silly watching it.

 
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Posted in Directed By: Spike Lee

 
 
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