After more than three decades as a provocateur, the culture caught up with Spike Lee, and now the filmmaker has returned to the movie that made him famous.
Before he had even made his first movie, Spike Lee used to fantasize about three things: season tickets at the Garden, a brownstone in Fort Greene like the one that he was raised in and a house in the historically black Oak Bluffs section of Martha’s Vineyard. In 1986, after writing, producing, directing and acting in his infectious debut, “She’s Gotta Have It,” a stylish, edgy rom-com about a libidinous young woman juggling three lovers, those Knicks seats came first. The two homes swiftly followed, and within a decade, Lee’s status and celebrity had catapulted him, practically against his will, from Da Republic of Brooklyn, as he likes to call it in emails, into a 8,200-square-foot Upper East Side townhouse that was previously home to Jasper Johns. But the getaway in Massachusetts, situated next to the 18th hole at the Farm Neck Golf Club, has never required upgrading.
As I was preparing to visit him there this summer, Lee warned me that the second week of August is when “everybody” descends on the Vineyard. He did not lie. The annual African-American Film Festival was happening, and the sheer saturation of black achievement on display — on an 87-square-mile strip of land that is home to some of the first integrated beaches in the country and also synonymous with the liliest-lily-white establishment — was something to behold. In the previous 24 hours, both Barack Obama and the two-time N.B.A. champion Ray Allen had teed off behind Lee’s house; as my Uber turned down Lee’s dirt driveway, Henry Louis Gates Jr. pedaled past on a tricycle. Lee has long been a fixture at the festival, and this year he would be previewing his latest project, a 10-episode Netflix reboot of the very film that made him a star: “She’s Gotta Have It.” A late-career foray into prestige television, the series, released this week, marks a homecoming of sorts, as well as a risky departure. Read the article at The New York Times.