Jul. 18, 2012 - Issue #874: Musician’s Survival Guide: Songwriters on Songwriting
Do The Right Thing
From the start—stately jazz scratched-out by funky dance-beats—Lee seems aware of firing down old traditions with his hot-summer-day-race-riot of a film. What could be a stagebound, one-block, Our Town story is re-energized by a melancholic score, sultry colour palette, frazzled emotions and poetically heated banter of an American melting-pot bubbling over. Low-angle and Dutch-angle shots build a sense of perspectives becoming more distorted, sun-shimmering out of control in the Bedford-Stuyvesant corner of Brooklyn.
Lee captures a sense of black pride in the late '80s that's caught between essentialism (blacks started "civilization" in Africa) and pop-culture commercialism (a new pair of Air Jordans). Trash-talking racism (spat out in an Our Town-like breaking of the fourth wall), distrust, and males' insistence on respect (in one chilling scene, two cops look long and hard at three black men just sitting out on the curb) blaze the story along a path that LA would burn with the 1992 riots after the police beating of Rodney King.
Mookie (Lee) himself tries to keep the peace but has become a negligent father, while John Turturro packs Pino, the son of pizza joint owner Sal (Danny Aiello), with so much suspicion and resentment that you brace for his next explosion. Conflict—the boxing dance of Rosie Perez at the start; Radio Raheem's punching explanation of love and hate; Martin Luther King versus Malcolm X—animates this classic's very American, aggressive sense of injustice. And when it's unclear who, or what, exactly is the "power" to fight, angers turned inwards, burning down the neighbourhood.
Tue, Jul 24 (9 pm)
Directed by Spike Lee
Metro Cinema at the Garneau
Originally released: 1989
Vue respects your privacy. We will not forward your personal information to any other organization except as required by law, and will use your e-mail address only to respond to your comments. We reserve the right to edit and remove comments for length, clarity and/or if they are illegal or inappropriate. Your email address is never shown to visitors to vueweekly.com. Read the whole policy at: http://vueweekly.com/privacy