“Crooklyn” is a black feature film made in 1994. It was written by Spike Lee, along with his brother Cinque Lee and sister Joie Lee. This is not your typical “Spike Lee Joint.” It’s not, in your face, or edgy, and does not address any racial, controversial, or sexual issues. The film shows the lighter side of Spike Lee because it is actually a family film. Crooklyn is semi autobiographical because it is loosely based on the childhood of Spike and his brothers and sister. The film shows them growing up in the lower middle class, racially mixed Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn during the 1970s, showing the good times and the bad times. It’s not the typical Brooklyn film with gangs, violence, and drugs backed by rap and hip-hop beats.
The family is very believable. The father, Woody Carmichael, played by Delroy Lindo, is a struggling jazz musician who would rather stay true to his art form and produce pure jazz, even though he is not making any money, than play guitar for a few rock groups to bring in an income. The mother, Carolyn Carmichael, played by Alfre Woodard, is a school teacher taking care of the house and the children, struggling to pay all the bills with her sole income. The children, four brothers: Clinton (Carlton Williams), Wendell (Sharif Rashed), Nate (Christopher Knowings), Joseph (Tse-Mach Washington), and one sister, Troy (Zelda Harris), are growing up and doing what kids normally do: learning, playing, and getting into trouble.
“Crooklyn” starts with recreated Brooklyn neighborhood, showing kids at play on the street, playing games reminiscent of a simpler time like hop scotch, double dutch, skully, stick ball, and steal the bacon. Then it moves onto the typical family scene, with the Carmichael family setting the table to eat dinner. Lee does a good job of showing them as a genuine family, complete with spats and squabbles between the siblings and parents. In the scene that...