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Spike Lee courts controversy by criticizing Clint Eastwood and the Coen brothers

May 22, 2008 | 11:55 am

Perhaps Spike Lee has decided that a good offense makes for a better defense if he is snubbed by the Academy Awards again this year. How else to explain his slam of a trio of Oscar-winning directors — Clint Eastwood and the Coen brothers - who could well be competing again this year.


As per Reuters, Lee was in Cannes to promote "Miracle at St. Anna," his upcoming WW II drama about the heroic efforts of four African American soldiers in Italy. He took the opportunity to criticize his fellow filmmakers. "Clint Eastwood made two films about Iwo Jima that ran for more than four hours total, and there was not one Negro actor on the screen," he said. "If you reporters had any balls you'd ask him why. There's no way I know why he did that. That was his vision, not mine. But I know it was pointed out to him and that he could have changed it. It's not like he didn't know."

Clint Eastwood picked up his ninth and 10th Oscar nods for producing and directing one of those two films Lee referenced —"Letters From Iwo Jima" — in 2006. While Eastwood lost those races, he has 4 Oscars on his mantle — a pair each for producing and directing best picture winners "Unforgiven" (1992) and "Million Dollar Baby" (2004) — as well as the Thalberg award.

And as for the Oscar-winning directors of "No Country for Old Men," Lee had this to say: "I love the Coen brothers; we all studied at NYU. But they treat life like a joke. Ha ha ha. A joke. It's like, 'Look how they killed that guy! Look how blood squirts out the side of his head!' I see things different than that."

Joel and Ethan Coen won three Oscars last year for producing, directing, and adapting "No Country for Old Men" and another for their original script for "Fargo" in 1996. Between them, they have another seven nominations for editing, writing, and producing.

Lee has never been nominated for directing a feature film. His first Oscar bid came in 1989 for his original screenplay of "Do the Right Thing." He lost to Tom Schulman for "Dead Poets Society" which was a best picture nominee. Lee's only other nod was in 1997 for the feature documentary "4 Little Girls." That examination of the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church lost to "The Long Way Home," a study of Holocaust survivors and the establishment of Israel.

To read the full Reuters report CLICK HERE

(40 Acres and a Mule)