Spike Lee, critically acclaimed director of Malcolm X, has broken his silver screen silence with his release of ‘Chi-Raq’. Lee has shifted his title from “prestige film maker” to “Artist” with this risky film. But, it’s not a go-for-broke scenario as seen with his earlier works; no, ‘Chi-Raq’ is given a tried and tested source: Aristophanes’ ‘Lysistrata’. In this gutsy Greek classic the women of the town are sick of their men fighting so they refuse them sex until they have come to peace in the pursuit of armistice. As chanted by the female actresses in Lee’s version: “No Peace, No Pussy”.
‘Chi-Raq’ is titled so due to the maddening fact that the homicide rate of Chicago has surpassed that of US troops in Iraq. The film is doused in a mixture of gun and gang culture, sorrow, rage but yet there is a sense of hope, of light at the end of the tunnel.
On another exciting note, Teyonah Parris, formerly the secretary in later seasons of Mad Men, is making her film debut. Her air of Hollywood subversion and self-assured feminist breaks through in her performance, putting her a million miles away from her previous 1950s themed character. Her character name in ‘Chi-Raq’ is rightfully Lysistrata.
Other big names to appear on screen are Samuel L. Jackson and John Cusack.