Thursday, December 11, 2008

#96: Do The Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)

With the inclusion of Spike Lee, you should now know that this is the 10th Anniversary edition from 2007. I can't believe that 1989 is almost 20 years ago. I was old enough to like girls in 1989.

The opening credits to Do The Right Thing are like The Cosby Show, only with an angry Rosie Perez instead of Raven Simone. After that, the plot is simply one day in the hood, which lets me see where Friday came from.

They open the fire hydrant and then douse an old white guy's convertible. The cops are predictably not happy about their jobs. One guy wanders around blaring "Fight The Power" on his boom box all day. The camera angles are good. The colors are bright.

The main character exists somewhere between his jobless contemporaries and his hard working pizza shop boss. Sal, of Sal's Famous Pizzeria, is a sufficiently complex character who's been running his shop there for 25 years and tries to act like part of the community for the sake of his business even though he and his sons don't fit in there and don't want to.

The movie is full of overt racial tension including Hispanics, Koreans, Italians, and Blacks. Typical racial overtones for Spike Lee, but this is where he gets the drive to make the rest of his films, which never live up.

Do The Right Thing is worth watching as a snapshot 20 years B.O. (Before Obama) into a people too frustrated with their situation to deal with it in an appropriate and successful manner. Where his characters fail, Spike Lee has hope they'll get it eventually.

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