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Do The Right Thing

Spike Lee

Set on one block of Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy Do or Die neighborhood, at the height of summer, this 1989 masterpiece by Spike Lee confirmed him as a writer and filmmaker of peerless vision and passionate social engagement. Over the course of a single day, the easygoing interactions of a cast of unforgettable characters—Da Mayor, Mother Sister, Mister Señor Love Daddy, Tina, Sweet Dick Willie, Buggin Out, Radio Raheem, Sal, Pino, Vito, and Lee’s Mookie among them—give way to heated confrontations as tensions rise along racial fault lines, ultimately exploding into violence. Punctuated by the anthemic refrain of Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” Do the Right Thing is a landmark in American cinema, as politically and emotionally charged and as relevant now as when it first hit the big screen.

“While the movie is extremely political, it is also, fortunately, no didactic civics lesson: Lee is able to inspire debate about hot-button issues without pushing an agenda or providing any easy answers… It is also much to Lee’s credit that, as provocative and disturbing as the film at times may be, it is also full of great humor and warmth, qualities perfectly brought out by the ebullient cast and the exuberant color cinematography of Ernest Dickerson.” – Cine File

“The movie was analyzed nearly to death, but hardly anybody mentioned how genuinely bizarre it was, how little it resembled almost anything else in theaters back then—or today, for that matter. Lee took a scenario that seems to cry out for gritty handheld realism and directed it with the aggressive abstraction of a Broadway musical, and he stuck with that approach even at the film’s explosive climax.” – AV Club

“Some reviewers, largely the same nervous nellies who warned the movie might incite race riots, took issue with Lee’s perceived free pass to eschew political correctness, especially in Bush I’s “kinder, gentler nation.” But that’s precisely the point of Do the Right Thing. It takes political concepts away from the lip service of cloistered authority figures (including the film’s dirty cops) and dissects them through the lives of those who are forced to live by them.” – Slant

“With its thrillingly unorthodox blend of Aristotelian unity and Brechtian artificiality, it locates the big in the small, and the national in the local. Over 120 swift minutes, it assails the viewer with a mixture of character drama, comedy, poetry, music, and then, in its riot finale precipitated by the cops’ murder of young Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn), dares to echo SNCC member H. Rap Brown’s darkly diagnostic pronouncement in the 1960s that “violence is as American as cherry pie.” – Moving Image Source


  • 8/3 | 9:00PM
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