(NEW YORK) -- It's the latest film in Spike Lee's Chronicles of Brooklyn Series, which includes films such as She's Gotta Have It, Do The Right Thing, Crooklyn and He Got Game. Red Hook Summer, opening in limited release Friday, centers on Flik Royale, a 13-year-old boy from Atlanta who moves in with his preaching grandad for a summer in Brooklyn.
The film was shot in just 18 days. It's a feat that writer, director and producer Lee says he's mastered after making films since 1985.
"You gotta know what the hell you're doing," the 55-year-old director told ABC News Radio while sitting inside his Brooklyn-based studio, 40 Acres and a Mule. "Eighteen days; there's no lollygagging', no shenanigans, no tomfoolery, nothing. You gotta get it done."
And Lee does get it done while revealing the secrets of a housing project in Red Hook, Brooklyn, just a few avenues over from where he grew up in Cobble Hill. In a nod back to the cinematic feel of Do The Right Thing, Red Hook Summer is a gritty narrative, centered around a church, Lil’ Peace of Heaven Baptist Church, where Flik gets to know his grandfather, Bishop Enoch Rouse, whom he has never met before. And while struggling to navigate the streets of Brooklyn, far different from his time in the suburbs of Atlanta, he's constantly shocked into the realities of urban city life.
One neighborhood reality is Mookie, Lee's character, who first appeared in Do the Right Thing, who is still delivering pizzas. A scene sure to inspire the nostalgia of the theatrical feature that first gained him acclaim, Lee said he can't retire the character, because frankly, "Sal don't pay that much." And another signature character from Lee's repertoire, Nola Darling from She's Gotta Have It, appears as Mother Darling, a Jehovah's Witness whose son passed from HIV. It's a far shift from the Darling Lee fans used to know who courted three boyfriends at a time without shame.
Still, it's a mid-film plot twist (that if described would totally ruin the film for you) that is sure to shock moviegoers just in case they thought Red Hook Summer was only about Brooklyn's struggle with gentrification, a repeated theme, or a young boy's coming-of-age story.
"What throws people for a loop is that a lot of times people are so pre-conditioned to the Hollywood formula for films," Lee explained to ABC News Radio. "It's not a good thing when the audience is two steps ahead of the filmmaker."
Lee's Red Hook Summer hits theaters in New York Friday and opens wider on Aug. 24.
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