For an icon always welcome to controversy and a worthy cinematic challenge, Spike Lee’s reinterpretation of Park Chan-wook’s classic “Oldboy” is a logical fit. However, the similarities essentially end there: drawing heavily from the original Japanese manga as well, the film marks new stylistic ground for Lee, telling the story of Joe Doucett (played by Josh Brolin), a man locked up without reason and released 20 years later to find his captor and exact revenge. Not exactly Thanksgiving material, but next week is exactly when Lee will unleash his new work. And while we’ve got a couple new posters and some footage to herald its arrival, the director also recently dropped a hint as to when we’ll see his Kickstarter-bred project.
In a conversation about “Oldboy” over at SlashFilm, Lee briefly touched on “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus,” his newly-titled film about addiction, blood, and sex starring Michael K. Williams, Zaraah Abrahams, and Stephen Tyrone Williams. “We shot in October. Sixteen days with one day ahead of schedule,” he said of the film’s finished production. Successfully funded on Kickstarter in August, not much of the drama is known other than the cast, themes, and that Lee’s “Oldboy” DP Sean Bobbitt lensed it. But while the director claims a Sundance premiere is out of the question—he’s in the process of editing the film now—he says he’s more optimistic for “Cannes. Hopefully.” So look to the Croisette next year, and the announcement around April beforehand for news on Lee’s latest.
What’s it like? “It’s scary. Humorous. Bloody. Sexy,” Lee said in an recent interview, adding that the film uses blood as a “metaphor. As we all know, human beings have many addictions. Drugs, sex, alcohol, power, money, Air Jordans [laughs]. In this one they’re addicted to blood. We shot in New York, Martha’s Vineyard, and we’re editing now.”
And while official word on “Oldboy” is held back for now, the team behind it—including Josh Brolin and screenwriter Mark Protosevich—have wanted to make it absolutely clear that the film is its own entity, a new “reinterpretation” of both Park’s film and the manga. “We in no way, shape, or form wanted to do a remake,” Lee explained recently to The Boston Globe. “But we also wanted to honor the great film it is, and we wanted to give respect to the original source, which was the Japanese manga, the illustrated novel.” That said, this is the first time a Lee movie is going out as a “Spike Lee Film” and not a “Spike Lee joint.”
“It’s the first time for a narrative film. I think my documentary ‘4 Little Girls’ was ‘A Spike Lee Film.’ But other than that it’s always been ‘A Spike Lee Joint,’ ” the director told the paper. And when pressed for why that change has been implement, Lee deflected, “It’s a tough business. That’s the answer I’ll give you. [Laughs.]”
Audiences can decide just how divergent or faithful Lee’s take on “Oldboy” is when it hits theaters November 27th. But in the meantime, check out two new posters (via Indiewire and Fandango) from the film’s undeniably amazing marketing campaign below, as well as a TV spot and this adjunct “Oldboy Web Series: The Devil’s Eyes” from IGN.