- 11:33 AM, Sep 24
In this astounding and explosive documentary, Spike Lee captures the eponymous Broadway musical show written by singer/songwriter Stew (with music cowritten by his creative partner, Heidi Rodewald). The resulting work unites revelatory theater with superb filmmaking, raising the whole to a dizzyingly plateau of emotional engagement. The story (developed at the Sundance Theatre Lab) concerns the uneasy relationship of a young black man (called simply Youth in the show's credits) with his life. Raised somewhere south of Interstate 10 in Los Angeles, our hero, a would-be songwriter, stews in a-sea of conflicted cultural signals. He chafes under his mother's fixation on family ties and church and her bourgeois aspirations. So he sets out on his own-like pioneers Josephine Baker and James Baldwin-to Europe, seeking something "real." Picaresque misadventures with sex, drugs, politics, and art await Youth in far-out Amsterdam and hypermilitant Berlin. His eyes are opened ever wider, even revealing what he left behind. An absolutely superb cast, ably supported by sparing (but pitch-perfect) costumes, design, and stagecraft, bring to life the emotionally charged story with its astounding original music, narrated and overseen by Stew himself.