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January 22, 2014 AT 2:23 PM
One needs to look no farther than last year's uninspired and unnecessary box-office flop Oldboy to see how far Spike Lee has fallen. This is the man who gave us Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever and Malcolm X all within a span of three years. He's been hit and miss since then, but as time goes on, the gap between good movies is getting bigger and bigger. For every Clockers, there's Girl 6 and Get on the Bus. For every 25th Hour, a Bamboozled or She Hate Me. The last truly successful Spike Lee joint was was the straightforward genre exercise Inside Man -- a movie that eschewed any of Lee's trademark styles. Since then, Lee's been behind some critically-acclaimed, though virtually unseen documentaries, the disappointing Miracle at St. Anna, some TV work and the hype-defeating Oldboy. Lee is now more well-known for his vocal stance against more successful directors he doesn't approve of (like Quentin Tarantino) than for anything he's made himself. How did such a singular filmmaking voice become such a square? We may never know.