Thursday, January 13, 2011

You Haven't Seen That Yet??? - Do the Right Thing

Plot: Director Spike Lee dives head-first into a maelstrom of racial and social ills, using as his springboard the hottest day of the year on one block in Brooklyn, NY. Three businesses dominate the block: a storefront radio station, where a smooth-talkin' deejay spins the platters that matter; a convenience store owned by a Korean couple; and Sal's Famous Pizzeria, the only white-operated business in the neighborhood. Sal serves up slices with his two sons, genial Vito ) and angry, racist Pino . Sal has one black employee, Mookie , who wants to "get paid" but lacks ambition. His sister Jade ( Spike's sister), who has a greater sense of purpose and a "real" job, wants Mookie to start dealing with his responsibilities, most notably his son with girlfriend Tina . Two of Mookie's best friends are Radio Raheem , a monolith of a man who rarely speaks, preferring to blast Public Enemy's rap song Fight The Power on his massive boom box; and Buggin' Out, nicknamed for his coke-bottle glasses and habit of losing his cool. When Buggin' Out notes that Sal's "Wall of Fame," a photo gallery of famous Italian-Americans, includes no people of color, he eventually demands a neighborhood boycott, on a day when tensions are already running high, that incurs tragic consequences. via.

Matt's Rating: B+

Why Matt's appalled Nicole hasn't seen it: Spike Lee is one of those influential filmmakers that all self declared cinema fans should watch. And since Do The Right Thing was Spike's coming out film I would expect Nicole to have seen it. It's also my second favorite Spike Lee Joint. My first being Inside Man. However, I think Lee's films have a tendency to be a little too dense at times and can be disjointed. Do The Right Thing is really more of social commentary piece than a true linear story line film so the disjointedness works. Yet, it still has a tendency to drag and seem somewhat random at times. In the end Spike gets his message across clearly and effectively, plus Spike always does a great job of showing both sides of the argument, white and black. He focuses on the black side of things but makes sure to show you the tension and anger that some from the white side as well. It's easily a top 3 Spike Lee film and one of the most poignant and modern racial equality films made to date.

Nicole's Rating: --

Nicole's Review: I'm going to intentionally leave the rating field blank. Because I didn't finish the movie. I couldn't finish the movie. I was so bored - halfway through I realized I still had an hour left and I thought... there are so many other ways I could be living my life right now.

And yet - I can't give it a low rating because in the first hour it did (and from what I hear about the end, it will) achieve what it set out to do. Its intention and the road it takes to fulfill that intent are wholly unique.

I did really like how - Spike Lee would set a scene up having the viewer believe one thing, often the easy, most recognizable thing. And then the camera pulls back (sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively) to reveal something completely different.

To argue with Matt, because that's what I like to do - he's wrong to think that there is a "black side" and a "white side" to this movie. Yes, the movie comes from the POV of a largely black community, but the racial tensions that exist are between the Koreans that own the corner convenience store, the Italians that own the pizzeria, the Irish cops (at least I think they're Irish) that patrol the neighborhood, the Hispanics who get into a boom-box war with Radio and the African Americans in the community. And on top of this you have a generational tension as well - the old drunk mayor who tiffs with the young kids who think he's a joke and should get a real job (but later we find out the teens don't have a jobs themselves because they thinks they don't need one); the owner of the pizzeria who cares about the kids in the neighborhood that he's seen grow up trying to knock some sense into his bigoted eldest son who wants to move the pizzeria back to their own neighborhood. There was A LOT going on this movie.

Now that I'm writing all of this out - I feel like maybe I should go ahead and finish it. That this might be the most brilliant movie ever.

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