Do the Right Thing ★★★★½

So it's Sunday. How did you feel when you woke up Saturday to the news that another guy had been needlessly killed by police? If you're like me, you sort of thought "wow I guess the police aren't as consumed by this quite as much as the rest of seem to be" because it's been like less than three weeks since "racial tensions flared" last and someone died who didn't strictly have to. Sort of thought they'd be on their best behavior.

I guess that's the heartbreaking thing here, is Spike Lee depicts a black guy dying in a police chokehold and even in 1989 everyone involved is like "well that just happens sometimes". (And to log this movie I had to skip past "Do The Right Thing: 20 Years Later (2009)" so I guess neither of those were necessarily the wake-up call America seemed to need.) Six other victims of police brutality are named and I am not super-familiar with them. We certainly seem to have collected our fair share since then.

Basically I spend a lot of time these days wondering about the things at play here in Do the Right Thing. Do we have a deeply rooted race problem or is it in fact a horrible police problem? Isn't it selfish of me to intellectualize the matter like it's some faraway thing, when it's happened ten miles from my house three times in the last five years? And then I think it's probably true that it's like any other really bad problem that black and brown people just shoulder more than their fair share of the burden. That's that deeply rooted race thing.

Not a perfect film - a little uneven in where it wants to spend its time and attention and, in its depiction of so many great little details, it gets a bit distracted. It even drags a little leading up to the climax, but the climax presents something so fresh and vital and current (ha I almost said timeless, wouldn't that be funny if we never figured this out). I haven't seen all (half) of Spike Lee's movies but I think I'm getting a sense of the sorts of things he indulges - so maybe this is a perfect movie after all.

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