I’m told there’s a possibility that Spike Lee‘s Da 5 Bloods, a kind of “Last Flag Flying meets a buried-gold-treasure hunt” scenario set in Vietnam, may premiere at Sundance 2020. Possibly, maybe not, who knows?
Lee’s lengthy, Asian-set, character-driven drama sounds unlikely given that Bloods doesn’t sound woke enough for Park City, but we’ll know later this week (or early next week) when the Sundance slate is announced. It would be a huge score if Sundance lands Da 5 Bloods, as it would constitute a noteworthy exception to the SJW Sundance template.
Lee and Netflix would prefer a Cannes debut, I’m hearing, but the last time I checked Cannes was a no-go for Netflix…right? At least for the foreseeable future.
Wiki boilerplate: “Four African American Vietnam veterans return to Vietnam. They are in search of the remains of their fallen squad leader (played by Chadwick Boseman in flashback) and the promise of buried treasure. The fellow battle forces of man and nature while confronted by the remaining ravages of this half-century-old conflict.”
I’ve heard from a guy who attended a recent NYC-area screening of Lee’s film, which he says had a running time between 160 and 165 minutes and is pretty much completed with the credits in place. Here’s how he put it (although I’m skeptical of some of his impressions):
Tipster: “It’s a slick, fast-paced, 165-minute Vietnam War film.” HE: Bullshit — what he means is that it’s a film about the Vietnam War’s legacy. Tipster: “It’s not your typical type of war flick though. It’s a present-day thing about four aging veterans (Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Norm Lewis) returning to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to find the remains of the “fifth Blood” (played in flashback by Chadwick Boseman) who was killed in action. They’re also looking to retrieve a pile of gold that they buried during their Vietnam service.
“And so they head off into the jungle and reconnect with one another in various ways. There’s a sort of Last Flag Flying sense of bonding between these men, all living different lives from when they knew each other, and all of them they sharing a similar sense of fear with age and time closing in, and all haunted by the wartime histories.
“Spike opens with a montage of the violence of the late 60s and early 70s, set to the music of Marvin Gaye — there’s a lot of Gaye in this, actually, and he uses it so well, all fitting in smoothly and providing momentum from the start.
“I saw Bloods with two other critics, and they both loved it. Apparently Netflix gave him creative control to create his vision. I think Da 5 Bloods is a little too big for Sundance — if it weren’t for the Netflix blockage Cannes would be a better fit. Maybe they should wait until Venice, Telluride or Toronto. Either way it will be a major success for both Spike and Netflix, and I could even see a directing and picture nomination depending on how they decide to release it.
“The movie was practically finished — just some small things like explosions that were just a tad too loud and needed to be mixed a little bit, but nothing that major.”