Chi-RaqLondon Film Festival 2016
15th October 2016 5.30pm at Embankment Garden Cinema
16th October 2016 12.00pm at Embankment Garden Cinema
What would it take to have world peace? Picture the entire global female population going on a sex strike to achieve just that – No Peace No Piece (or “No Peace No P…y”). Spike Lee’s brilliant tongue-in-cheek yet serious movie Chi-Raq – set in a crime-infested Chicago where children are regularly gunned down by stray bullets – portrays a group of women who are fed up with the violence and the American gun culture. Creating in response a mass movement to pressure men to end gang wars, their weapon of choice is the chastity belt, locked and armoured. An idea taken from the Greek classic Lysistrata by Aristophanes, where the women withhold sex to stop the Peloponnesian War, it begins with the ladies of Chicago and extends to every nation. Ultimately the US government is forced to harness the cooperation of global leaders to meet their demands for world peace, or men will go insane.
Opening with Nick Cannon’s song Pray 4 My City, with on-screen lyrics declaring Chicago to be “Chi-Raq” because of its massive numbers of firearm deaths, the film is winningly and mirthfully narrated by Samuel L Jackson, a kind of hip hop travelling bard. Cannon convincingly plays a brooding, violent gang kingpin whose girlfriend Lysistrata (the very talented Teyonah Parris) – a strong feminist with “Foxy Brown” sex appeal – leads a movement to end the brutality after yet another young mother (the soulful Jennifer Hudson) loses her child to a shooting. John Cusack is terrific as an impassioned clergyman who delivers the most inspiring sermon ever heard about stopping the heartbreaking bloodshed.
What is truly unique about Chi-Raq is its extraordinarily poetic dialogue, which consists entirely of rap lyrics. Attentiveness reveals that every sentence in Lee’s script rhymes – 127 minutes of it and it’s beautiful. For that element alone, this movie is a work of art.
Presenting a nearly all-star cast, including Nick Cannon, Samuel L Jackson, Angela Bassett, John Cusack, Wesley Snipes and Teyonah Parris, Chi-Raq is a slick and polished masterpiece in direction, cinematography, production, editing and sound. With enormous energy and wit, this is Spike Lee at his best.
Chi-Raq is released nationwide on 2nd December 2016.
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Watch the trailer for Chi-Raq here: