She Hate Me
dirs. Lee
Opens Fri Aug 20
Fox Tower

Rule number one about film critics is that they love hyperbole. Attention-hungry reviewers quickly proclaim everything as either being the best or the worst, with little else in between.

Taking this into account, please believe that I only say this after much consideration: She Hate Me, the latest film from Spike Lee, might be the worst film by a major director that I've ever seen. That's not hyperbole, just a fact: She Hate Me is such a shambling mess, so ultimately flabbergasting, that I perversely find myself almost wanting to recommend it--some things have to be seen to be disbelieved.

Anthony Mackie plays John Henry, a Harvard-educated exec who blows the whistle on his employer's shady deeds. After a rough patch, financial salvation appears--via Henry's lesbian ex-fiancé, who hires him to knock up her and her girlfriend. Word spreads, and Henry's soon impregnating five or six lesbians a night. (The plot goes further, but any synopsis is incapable of doing justice to the movie's narrative illogic and stumbling structure--suffice it to say that by the time Lee throws in a Watergate flashback with a guy in a rubber Dick Nixon mask, your jaw will be on its 15th rebound from the theater floor. And then you'll realize that the film still has an hour and a half left before the end credits.)

The standard criticisms of Lee as director still apply: his women are malevolent, agenda-driven creatures (a characterization made doubly outrageous by depicting lesbians as prone to going hetero at the first touch of an attractive guy); Italians are portrayed as as sub-Scorsese wannabes (John Turturro gets to do a lengthy Godfather impression); Terence Blanchard's syrupy jazz constantly drowns out crucial dialogue. What's new is the feeling that the random digressions that once gave Lee's best films (Do The Right Thing, Malcolm X) their sense of vibrant life has now overwhelmed his other, once-considerable abilities. Lee now seems sadly incapable of having a stray thought that doesn't make it to the screen. That's too bad for Lee as a director, but it proves much, much worse for anyone subjecting themselves to his work.