In “Small Axe,” McQueen’s ambitious five-film anthology about London’s West Indian community, the “12 Years a Slave” director resurrects the British capital in the decades before its multicultural present, tracing the Caribbean immigrant experience through the racism of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s in order to illuminate the injustices of today. It’s a cycle, operatic in scope, with movements of resistance, oppression, protest, family and celebration. But its textures are precise and, often, personal.
The second of the five films, the rapturous “Lovers Rock,” captures a 1980 Blues Party – underground, improvised dance parties with thumping dub reggae held in homes since nightclubs were typically closed to nonwhites. McQueen, 51, was too young for those parties. But he remembers how, during sleepovers at his grandmother’s, his uncle would leave a back door unlocked so his aunt Molly