Cannes Blog: Spike Lee Wants You in '08!

Spike Lee gives reviewers a super-advance sneak peak of his upcoming Miracle at St. Anna

CANNES, FRANCE -- “Turn off your cell phones, pagers, and iPods,” says Spike Lee, standing in front of a huge white screen at the Olympia multiplex in Cannes.He continues: “Turn off your Blackberries, Bluetooths, Clios, and Game Boys.”

This is a man who knows his brands.

As you can see from my photo (cameras were okay with him, evidently!), the filmmaker is wearing a Yankees cap that sports all the team’s series pennants (did I get that right?), and a baby blue All-Star Game sweatsuit with Nike swooshes, the top unzipped to reveal a pair of dangling crosses.One more brand: Lee is working for Uncle Walt, a.k.a. Disney, which put out his last work screened in Cannes, the woefully underrated, commercially trifling, and pretty damn great Summer of Sam--the missing link between, among other things, Fritz Lang’s While the City Sleeps and David Fincher’s Zodiac.“This,” Lee says, pointing at the screen, “is just a small taste of -- if I do say so myself -- an epic film. It’s David Lean in Italy.”At this, someone in the audience whistles -- okay, I admit, it’s me. I came here this afternoon thinking the eight-minute clip reel of the director’s forthcoming WWII movie Miracle at St. Anna would represent Lee’s Open City -- or maybe his Bicycle Thieves, judging from the invite’s photo of a dirty-faced kid under a grown man’s arms, rubble beneath their feet. But “David Lean in Italy”--as a Spike Lee joint--sounds too good to miss as well.The lights dim and, in beautiful widescreen Panavision, there are the African-American men of the 92nd Infantry Division, enduring a Nazi radio broadcaster’s psychological warfare taunt. Later, we see the aforementioned Italian kid being lifted out from under a mountain of brick by a 92nd soldier, whom the kid calls a “chocolate giant.”Other critics will likely say this bloody-looking ode to the wartime miracle is Lee’s Saving Private Ryan when Uncle Walt sends it to U.S. civilians on October 10.But speaking as one who has lately been wondering what Lee has been up to this election year, I think now I know. And, as they say in election years, I approve this message. -- Rob Nelson
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