All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1167. An easy way of seeing how…
Do the Right Thing
It's the hottest day of the summer. You can do nothing, you can do something, or you can...
On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone's hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence.
Director: Spike Lee (First Film)
Do the Right Thing feels entirely like a rough sketch of thoughts. Thoughts of anger, and compassion and understanding, of confusion and thoughts of course, of love and hate. It's as if Spike Lee had a vision and it was perfectly set out in his head, and he put it into film exactly as his thoughts dictated.
As the quotes from Martin Luthor King jr and then Malcolm X neatly placed in the end credits, there is a lot of contradicting points within the film, and thus there is no clear indication to what Spike Lee wants us to feel, to think and in doing so, this outright fairly portrayed reality entirely means…
Racism is a tough subject, it's hard to talk about it without making the usual mistakes—yet, Spike Lee achieves perfection because he approaches his themes in a surprising and much more powerful way. Generally, when we talk about racism, we associate it to the way the black communities are seen and treated by other communities around the world, but there was a sort of self-awareness in Do the Right Thing that allowed Spike Lee to create one of the most significant and relevant films in the history of cinema—this comedy is about racism in general and about the ignorance behind that social perception.
This is a film where we have Italian Americans (who own a famous pizzeria in the neighbourhood)…
Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.
That is the tail end of a Martin Luther King quote used before the end credits in Do The Right Thing. Now, if this film would've just ended with that full quote and then proceeded with the credits, I think one would come away with a very different opinion of this film. It kind of puts what you just saw into perspective and offers a strong voice to compliment the film.
But it doesn't.
Spike Lee turns around and shows another quote right after that. A Malcolm X quote stating that violence is intelligent when used in self defense. This makes things a little…
In 1989 there were three films about race.
Of those three, two focused more on relationships between whites and blacks.
Those two films were Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing and Bruce Beresford's Driving Miss Daisy.
Both films were nominated for oscars.
Do the Right Thing was nominated for only two awards, and lost them both.
Miss Daisy was nominated for nine awards, winning four including Best Picture.
This just shows the academy voters' preferance for sticky and sentimental films rather for real and hard hitting films.
For me, Driving Miss Daisy is one of the most annoying and horrible films I have ever seen.
Even Spike Lee agrees, saying "because 20 years later, who’s watching Driving Miss Daisy?"
That I ever disliked this film seems like plenty good reason to never take anything I've ever said about film seriously. That this film is more relevant and powerful more than 25 years after its release than Selma, which dropped mere weeks ago is both a testament to this film's strength and a sad comment on how little we've grown as a society.
This is one of, if not the most, literate films I've ever seen. From Shakespeare to Tennessee Williams, from 50s melodramas to black musicals, from signifying the monkey to the African diaspora, Spike Lee has pulled far and wide to weave this quilt of great American filmmaking, and well it should be. We're a patchwork, messy society…
This isn't really a review, so don't expect any special insights here, but I thought it was necessary to note that considering recent events in Ferguson, now is as good a time as any to revisit Do the Right Thing. I've never written anything substantial on the film. I think about it often and consider it a personal favorite, so I feel strongly about addressing such topics of fiction intersecting with reality and the circular nature of racial tensions in America. However, this viewing is not going to be the one to make that happen. I don't have the words or energy at the moment to do it justice, so I'll have to stick to my usual generic praises.
I have always thought that Do the Right Thing was basically a musical, without the cast breaking into song. It has the hyper-kinetic, rampant energy of a musical, the heightened characterisation, the offbeat, talk to the camera stylistic and the colourful photography, beautifully captured by the underrated Ernest Dickerson. Do the Right Thing belies its tough edged, hyper political filmmaking, with a lot of funny jokes and over-the-top performances. Is there is a less likeable character in film than Pino played by John Turturro? However, Spike Lee really has his finger on the pulse. He may present it in a melodramatic manner, but his ever-growing ensemble of characters work, interplaying expertly throughout. The acting may not be top notch; Lee…
Watching this post-25TH HOUR sort of revelatory, not in a good way. I remembered it as Spike's masterpiece, but it's not, and not just because 25TH HOUR is. It's potency was more temporal than I thought; while some of the issues were universal, the specificity of some of it gives it the urgency of reading an apocalyptic op-ed from a 1989 newspaper. Dating it more is the staginess of the film, from the blocking to the night lighting to the relentlessly larger than life performances. (Danny Aiello stands out here for being the guy who knows not to play every scene at 11.) Still lots to praise, of course, and a veritable who's who of casting choices. (Did you know FARGO's Mike Yanagita was the Korean convenience store clerk here?)
Strikingly (if dishearteningly) relevant while crackling with the energy of a current release, Do The Right Thing is still simmering 26 years after its initial release.
The Central Park Five (2012) Directed by: Ken Burns, Sarah Burns & David McMahon
I'm not able to say anything revelatory about this, anything that hasn't already been dissected and argued over, so I'd just like to comment on how fleshed-out and well written a lot of characters in Lee's film are. There, there's my two cents. Now please may I have some pizza.
Spike Lee is undoubtedly one of the most divisive filmmakers of his generation, but even if you choose to not respect his auteur status, you've got to recognize the greatness that is Do the Right Thing. It's rare an idea mean, such as Lee, gets all his ducks in a row, but if you always swing for the fences you're bound to hit a home run.
Personally, I don't find it hard to connect with most of Lee's oeuvre, but I'm smart enough to call the film what it is - his crown jewel. Lee ignites a fire using a combination of heat (duh), a strong sense of place as oxygen and racism as fuel. Also huge props to any…
Let's talk about Ernest Dickerson: this is definitely one of the best (second to The Third Man) uses of canted shots in cinematic history, displaying the tension and caged emotion (in many cases racism) in the interactions people have with each other every day of their lives (effectively communicating the imprisonment that is a necessary repercussion of discrimination as it greatly diminishes one's ability to think critically and analyze). Perhaps the most important film about race because Lee is very aware of the institutionalized racism in most societies (something he is still criticized for (which shows just how deeply ingrained peoples' need to discriminate is)).
An examination of racial relations in the bed-stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn. This movie is brilliant in its execution and delivery. Do the Right Thing remains unpretentious while still remaining thought provoking. Its greatest strength is that it manages to portray almost every character as a human being with believable motives and ambitions. There are no innocent victims or irredeemable oppressors. Everyone is part of the problem. The soundtrack is punctuated by Public Enemy's hit song "Fight the Power" which sets the tone of a film as a conflict between Malcolm X's philosophy of self defense and MLK's nonviolent resistance. My only faults with the film are the lack of a conclusive ending and a uninspiring protagonist. Apart from this the movie is near perfect.
The story of right hand, left hand. The story of good and evil. The story of Martin and Malcolm. The story of Vito and Pino. And the story of Mookie, torn between his responsibilities and his baser instincts. Suffocated by heat and racial animosity, we watch Bed-Stuy slowly explode. Filmed in 1989, but couldn't be more relevant today.
Despite the fact that much of its retrospective significance seems to be buried in a stream of parodies and pretentious notoriety for Spike Lee, Do the Right Thing persists as a hilarious, emotional, and blunt exercise in filmmaking, with a style that is undeniably young and black. Sure, several of the characters seem to do completely out of character things in the end, and things become a bit dramatic, but isn't this in and of itself a commentary on the buried nature of racism and its perpetuating effects (it is).
Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…