Spike Lee hasn’t slowed down in nearly 40 years of filmmaking, and his latest feature after 2018’s Black KkKlansman, Da 5 Bloods, has been receiving critical acclaim for its story and performances. At least one critic called it among the greatest war films ever.
Author Viet Thanh Nguyen will be offering his own take on the movie tonight as he live tweets his reactions (and sips some cognac). “As a professional Vietnamese,” Nguyen joked, “I feel like I have to.”
Nguyen’s award-winning 2015 novel The Sympathizer follows a North Vietnamese narrator who spies on an exiled South Vietnamese community in the US. The narrator is also an advisor for a (fictional) American movie similar to films about Vietnam like Apocalypse Now. The Sympathizer is, among other things, a satire of whitewashed narratives.
Lee continues his tradition of revisiting American wars from the perspective of African-American protagonists. Unlike Da 5 Bloods (which also has some feelings about Apocalypse Now…), Lee’s 2008 film Miracle at St. Anna—about the black “Buffalo Soldiers” of the 92nd Infantry Division in WWII-era Italy—wasn’t at all a critical darling.
Da 5 Bloods is about four black Vietnam vets who return to the country to locate the remains of their squad leader who was killed in action (played by Chadwick Boseman) and a gold stash the men had buried around the same time.
Critics have praised the movie’s treatment of the way racialized, war-induced trauma reverberates across generations.