By the evidence of the reviews I wrote, I had a pretty grumpy week at Spectrum Culture. Through the normal cycle, I wound up with a lot of middling material to write about. First of all, I had the new album from Sonny and the Sunsets. I like their previous outing quite a bit, but this new release is drab and uninteresting. And I’m usually a sucker for breakup albums.
On the movie side, I reviewed the directorial debut of Martin Donovan, still probably best known for the movies he made with Hal Hartley a couple decades ago. As if those bygone performances weren’t already enough to make me root for the film, Donovan cast David Morse, one of my favorite underrated actors, in a central role. Unfortunately, it winds up too soft and uninspired. It could have used a little of the offbeat energy Hartley brought to his work (which fellow Hartley alumnus Adrienne Shelly was able to capture when she wrote and directed Waitress several years back).
I also wrote this week’s entry in the ongoing Oeuvre series on Spike Lee, offering an assessment of his film version of the Roger Guenveur Smith performance piece A Huey P. Newton Story. I was the one who recommended Lee for the Oeuvre section, not really thinking through how many documentaries and other non-fiction efforts that would entail. As glad as I was that writing for the series finally gave me impetus to watch the exception 4 Little Girls a few weeks ago, this was a frustrating example of Lee at his intrusive, overly fussy worst, undercutting his film because he won’t visually sit still.