When the Levees Broke
Spike Lee's four-and-a-half-hour post-Katrina New Orleans documentary When The Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts has been on my must-see list since I first heard about it. I've got a lot of time for Spike, and while I haven't seen all his films, I've not yet seen one that I didn't like. I'm also going to add that, while some seem to think of Lee as a militant white-hater, I do not share that view and never have. I was pleased, therefore, that in this documentary it was quite clear that he did not see the New Orleans disaster as a "black problem", but rather as a human problem, with particular emphasis on the poor.
What happened in New Orleans was an absolute travesty -- you don't need me to tell you that -- but to see it all unfold is another thing entirely. This utterly avoidable human tragedy is really brought home when you hear the stories of people who had to sit there waiting for evacuation watching their elderly parents literally roast to death in the sun.
The first two "acts" of Spike's documentary exposé were totally compelling and kept me glued to my screen. I was, by turns, shocked, appalled, and in disbelief throughout. The pace flagged a bit in Act III, and then picked up again for the final hour.
We were privy to some intimate moments and heartfelt outpourings of grief from N.O. residents. And of course we got to see again some classic moments of the time: Bush being a total prick in general; Barbara Bush saying how everyone seemed to have done okay out of it; Kanye West saying Bush doesn't care about black people... It was all there.
This was an excellent, not to mention important, film. Obviously my scoring system doesn't really work so well for documentaries, so I'll come straight out and give it 73 points.