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Spike Lee’s ‘Red Hook Summer’ Reviewed by Ricardo Hazell

I will say that it is a film worth seeing and it’s all too disgustingly real, with characters that seemed very familiar to me.

 

by Ricardo A. Hazell

*Spike Lee has been the preeminent director of films geared toward African American audiences for almost 30 years and we’ve come to expect a certain level of Lee’s signature craftsmanship ever since his very first big screen release, “She’s Gotta Have It.” His “40 Acres and a Mule” production company has rolled out over 35 films since 1983.

Recently I was invited down to the Directors Guild of America theater in Manhattan on 57th st to a screening of Lee’s most recent offering, “Red Hook Summer.”

It may be one of his most highly anticipated films in recent memory as it continues on his catalog of films that are based in Brooklyn. It tells the tale of a young man named Flik Royale, played by Jules Brown, whose mother sends him to spend the summer with his grandfather the good Bishop Enoch Rouse, played by Clarke Peters, in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn. Flik is 13 years old and is meeting his grandfather for the very first time. The two immediately begin falling out, as was to be expected, over Bishop Enoch’s insistence upon making Flik a devout Christian. Bishop Enoch, not unlike many old school grandfathers, doesn’t believe that Flik should be allowed to simply run free of his own accord. He puts Flik to work down at the Lil’ Peace of Heaven Church to help prepare for the upcoming Seniors’ Day.

It is there he meets Deacon Zee, played magnificently by Thomas Jefferson Byrd, a tragic yet comical drunk who is also Bishop Enoch’s right hand man. He also meets his antagonist/childhood sweetheart in the form of Chazz Morningstarr, played by Toni Lysaith. She and Flik are together through out the film and, had one not been paying attention, you would almost think “Red Hook Summer” was going to be a relatively light-hearted coming of age story. The common themes are all there for one to make that assumption: a stubborn yet brilliant child, a stern yet loving disciplinarian, a free spirited female companion and a dangerous potential adversary in the gang leader Box, played by Nate Parker.

But as the film progresses we begin to realize that, while there may indeed be elements of a coming of age story in the film, it’s really a story of deception, abuse of power, secrets and revelations. The audience is given hints throughout the film but it all comes to a climatic and masterfully acted crescendo in the pulpit. That’s when all of those hints come together in the mind’s eye. We now know why Bishop Enoch’s daughter Colleen Royale, played by De’Adre Aziza, showed great concern when initially dropping her only child of at her father’s door step, and why it took her 13 years to do so.

I will say that it is a film worth seeing and it’s all too disgustingly real, with characters that seemed very familiar to me. Bishop Enoch’s initial rigidity with dealing with young Flik seemed like the right thing to do in my eyes because it struck a familiar cord with in me. I initially found myself sympathizing with Bishop Enoch and wishing the headstrong Flik would get his act together. But little did I know that the individual that needed to come clean was the “good” Bishop? Can’t forget to give a shout out to Johnathan Batiste for his performance of Da Organist TK. Funny, funny, funnier with every church scene as he played the organ and ad-libbed in true church organist fashion. The kids, Jules Brown and Toni Lysaith did Ok but their chemistry and timing seemed to be a bit off. But I still think they performed well considering this was their first feature film. I’ll give them a C+.

The film’s zenith came in true Spike fashion. After all, I thought shortly after digesting “Red Hook Summer”, when has Spike Lee ever let us off easy when it comes to holding a mirror up to black culture?

The dialogue reflects a sign of the times approach which Spike Lee often employs. One in which the characters speak of times and circumstances that reflect the black mindset of some films Spike has his hand in. It is a particular touch of craftsmanship that I enjoyed before, and I enjoy it still. The Motion Picture Association gave the film an R rating because of “a disturbing situation”. But what is actually disturbing is that anyone living today might deem this film unnecessary. Those that do are in extreme denial. Is this a blockbuster? No, but it is a film worth making and it cuts straight to the heart of a very current matter. I would say this film is a success on artistic merit and subject matter alone.

“Red Hook Summer” opened on August 10 in select theaters in the New York area and will premiere nationwide on August 24. I cannot honestly sit here and tell you that this film is for everyone. You have to be ready to deal with a scene that is somewhat unsettling, but it was needed to hammer down the film’s reality. Overall I would give “Red Hook Summer” a B- on subject matter, dialogue, plot twist and the script.

Spike Lee’s ‘Red Hook Summer’ Reviewed by Ricardo Hazell

14-year-old boy clings to life after being shot in head in Brooklyn walking home from a party

‘He was bleeding out his ears and his mouth,’ neighbor said of teenager shot in Bushwick who was in critical condition at Brookdale University Hospital on Thursday

BY /

 NEW YORK

 	Crime scene officers search for evidence at the scene where a 14 year old boy was shot and killed on Evergreen Avenue in Brooklyn. ( Vic Nicastro / New York Daily News )

Crime scene officers search for evidence at the scene where a 14 year old boy was shot.

A 14-year-old boy was clinging to life after he was shot in the head in Brooklyn Wednesday night, police and witnesses said.

The violence unfolded as the boy, whose name was not immediately released, was walking home from a party with a group of friends, according to police sources. The victim and his pals bumped into another group of young men and women at the corner of  Evergreen Ave. and Cornelia St. in Bushwick just before 11 p.m.

Sources said words were exchanged between the groups and at some point, someone in the second group pulled out a handgun and fired, hitting the boy in his temple.

He was rushed to Brookdale University Hospital, where he was in critical condition, according to police sources.

A woman who lives on the corner where the boy was shot said she heard gunfire, looked out her window and saw the youth lying on the  ground.

“I just heard four gun shots right in a row, pop, pop, pop, pop,'” said Lupe Estrella, 48. “When I looked out my window, I saw a young man laying there. It looked almost like he was convulsing.”

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Officer searches for evidence at the scene where a 14 year old boy was shot on Evergreen Avenue in Brooklyn

Estrella, who is a former volunteer emergency medical technician and still keeps up her certifications, sped out of her house in her pajamas and tried to help the boy.

“It was just basic instinct. I ran out to him and he had barely a pulse,” she said. “He was bleeding out his ears and his mouth, and he had what looked like a bullet right in the middle of his forehead, between his eyes.”

“I still cannot believe it,” she said of the shooting. “I’m still traumatized.”

Police have not made any arrests and are continuing their investigation.

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Brooklyn mom of Cornell student who died in alcohol-related fraternity hazing feels betrayed by pledges’ acquittal

She will pursue civil suit after upstate judge clears three of hazing charges

BY 

George Desdunes

The Brooklyn mom of a Cornell University student who died in a booze-fueled fraternity hazing feels betrayed by the judicial system after three men were acquitted in her son’s death.

But Marie Lourdes Andre will not stop pursuing justice for her son, George Desdunes, in civil court, her attorney said Wednesday.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed in the verdict, but the criminal justice system and the civil justice system work differently,” Andre’s lawyer, William Friedlander, said.

Desdunes, 19, who aspired to be a doctor, died of alcohol poisoning in February 2011 after pledges at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house bound his wrists and ankles with zip ties and duct tape and poured cups of booze down his throat.

He was found unconscious and still tied up the next morning on a couch at the fraternity house.

Three freshmen frat pledges — Max Haskin, Ben Mann and Edward Williams — were all acquitted Tuesday of misdemeanor hazing charges by Tompkins County Judge Judith Rossiter, who presided over their bench trial.

Friedlander said Andre was “very upset” about the verdict but added: “She’s looking forward to seeing that justice is done in the civil action.”

Andre has filed a $25 million wrongful-death suit against Sigma Alpha Epsilon, a national fraternity, and 20 of its former members. The suit charges that the frat should have known about the dangers of binge drinking and hazing.

The suit also said that one pledge tried to cut the zip ties before cops showed up.

No one in the Cornell administration was named as a defendant in the civil case. Cornell officials swiftly moved to revoke recognition of the fraternity and close its frat house.

“We don’t think this has any impact on the civil case,” Friedlander said of the acquittals. “The civil case is still going ahead and still gives us an opportunity to hold the fraternity and the others accountable for their actions.”

Haskin’s attorney, Raymond Schlather, said that Rossiter’s decision has been a vindication for all three young men.

“They did not haze George Desdunes or cause his death,” Schlather told the Ithaca Journal, adding that despite the verdict there are no winners in the case.

“The family of George Desdunes has lost a son, and these young pledges were unnecessarily scapegoated, and their lives have been irreparably damaged,” Schlather said.

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Fearless Brooklyn boy, 11, stabs mom’s abusive boyfriend to fend off attack

Terrance Allen comes to rescue of mom Tracy Anderson

By  AND 

Terrance Allen (11) with his cousin 27-yr old Kenyetta Parker. Terrance saved his mom, Tracy Anderson (35), and cousin who were being assaulted by 42 yr old Mohammed (last name unknown), inside their Ocean Hill apartment.  Terrance reacted when he saw Mohammed choking Kenyetta Parker by grabbing a kitchen knife and stabbed Mohammed, then ran downstairs to got help.  (Joe Marino for New York Daily News)

Terrance Allen gets a hug from his cousin, 27-year-old Kenyetta Parker. Terrance saved Parker and his mom, Tracy Anderson, during an alleged attack by Parker’s live-in boyfriend, Timothy Pender.

A fearless 11-year-old Brooklyn hero wielding a kitchen knife saved the lives of his mother and a cousin when his mom’s live-in boyfriend snapped and started choking both women in their Bushwick apartment.

“I had enough,” fourth-grader Terrance Allen told the Daily News in a gripping account of the life-and-death struggle in which he stabbed the assailant to rescue the two people he loves the most.

Now little Terrance wants to be a cop — so he can help save other lives and arrest other bad guys.

The drama unfolded at 11:20 p.m. on Saturday in their home in the Ocean Hill Apartments, a city housing project, where the boy watched the brutal assault in horror.

Ex-con boyfriend Timothy (Mohammad) Pender, 42, allegedly choked Terrance’s mother, Tracy Anderson, 35, in a sustained, half-hour attack that spilled over from the hallway to the kitchen to the living room.

When Terrance’s cousin, Kenyetta Parker, 27, tried to help the boy’s mother, a crazed Pender allegedly turned his rage on her in yet another vicious choking assault.

“I had a feeling something was going to happen,” the soft-spoken boy told The News in an exclusive interview as his mom, shaken and fighting back tears, looked on. “I was frightened.”

He didn’t show it: Skinny and baby-faced, but fast-thinking and with nerves of steel, Terrance had raced to the kitchen as Pender was throttling Parker, grabbing what his mother later called a “small steak knife” in his little fingers.

“I didn’t say anything. I just stood there for two or three minutes,” he recalled. “I wanted to see if he would get off her. But he didn’t. He was choking my cousin.

“She was punching him, trying to get him off. That’s when I thought — I had enough.”

There was only one way to stop the savage assault: Terrance approached Pender from behind and stabbed him in the back.

“I did it,” he said matter-of-factly. Then he ran from the room to seek help, descending a dozen flights of stairs from the apartment. “I didn’t look back,” he said. “I just kept on going.”

Terrance said he ran a block north to Marion St. and met a kind stranger, who took him to her apartment, where they called 911.

Cops descended on the scene and arrested Pender, who was charged with second-degree assault, criminal obstruction of breathing and criminal mischief.

The suspect has multiple prior arrests stretching back 20 years, records show. He has pleaded guilty in past cases to forcible touching, trespass, resisting arrest and theft of services.

Pender was admitted to Brookdale University Hospital on Sunday with knife wounds that were not life-threatening. It wasn’t immediately clear how serious his injuries were.

“I was shaken up” after the incident, Terrance said. “So I played Grand Theft Auto IV, and it made me calm down.”

Before the assault, Terrance wanted to be a video game creator when he grows up. Not anymore — now he wants to be a city police officer.

“I want to be a cop so I can put away people like him,” he says.

Does he think he’s a hero? “No, I just acted; I wasn’t really thinking,” Terrance explained.

And what should other kids do if they find themselves in similar situations? His answer was simple: “Call the cops. And if you can’t do that, run outside and get help.”

As his mother, now safe and sound, listened to Terrance’s homespun wisdom, she said with emotion, “He’s my only child. That’s my baby. My baby boy.”

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Fearless Brooklyn boy, 11, stabs mom’s abusive boyfriend to fend off attack  

Skydiving accident kills Manhattan real estate investor and Brooklyn-based instructor

Mogul David Winoker, 49, made jump as part of friend’s 50th birthday celebration

BY 

A skydiving accident in upstate New York claimed the lives of a prominent Manhattan real estate investor and his Brooklyn-based instructor, authorities said Saturday.

David Winoker, a 49-year-old real estate mogul, who lived in Chappaqua, and 25-year-old Alexander Chulsky were killed in the Ulster County mishap on Friday.

Witnesses told The Journal News the pair plummeted to the ground near Modena after an apparent parachute malfunction.

Winoker, who ran Winoker Realty, was skydiving as part of a friend’s 50th birthday celebration.

The dive was organized by Skydive the Ranch, based in upstate Gardiner.

A friend of Winoker described the married father of three as the consummate family man.

“He’s just a wonderful, wonderful father,” David Simon told The Journal News.

“This really brings it home. It can happen at any socioeconomic level, at any time.”

A funeral service is set for 11:30 a.m. Sunday at Temple Shaaray Tefila in Bedford Corners.

The families of Winoker and Chulsky couldn’t be reached.

In an interview with the Observer last year, Winoker described the reasons for his 30-year-old firm’s success.

“What separates us is, really, our responsiveness and our attention to detail,” Winoker said. “We’re very, very hands on. … At the end of the day the business is really about people, and there’s no substitute for visiting a tenant, going to the building, and seeing the things first hand.”

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