WHEN THE LEVEES BROKEMAST D: Spike Lee w/ Ray Nagin, Terence Blanchard. 240 min. Friday, September 15, 6 PM RYERSON; Saturday, September 16, 11:45 AM VARSITY 8 Rating: NNNNN Rating: NNNNN
This epic documentary on New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina may be Lee's masterpiece, a furious, focused, heart-wrenching portrait of a city apparently abandoned by the U.S. government after the greatest natural disaster in American history.
Constructed out of interviews with New Orleans residents of every social stratum, interlaced with news footage of President Bush and his officials, Lee's made-for-HBO film is an indictment of government indifference and a shredding of the country's false front; it reminds us how seldom we see the unsanitized poor in American popular culture. Lee's long-time collaborator, composer Terence Blanchard, contributes the score and appears as a returning New Orleans resident .
On the downside, it's four hours of scarce festival time for a movie that premiered August 20 on the Movie Network.