Tuesday, April 15, 2014
272 of 1001 Movies: Do the Right Thing (1989)
Summary: Tensions are brewing in the neighborhood of Brooklyn and the old and new are clashing, and it is building racial tensions. As one guy gets mad that an Italian restaurant owner has only Italian guy's on his wall though many African Americans eat at his pizzeria, and actually they are his main customer. In an attempt to protest, he tries to get others on board, but all he can get to back him is Radio. Mookie works at the pizzeria, and is feeling the pull of working from his mother's son, and his sister to provide, but when the tension explodes it makes him pull cards.
Acting: What makes this movie really come to life is the acting. Many faces you'll recognize are throughout the movie including Spike Lee, who plays Mookie. Lee is a young guy when making this debut and not only does he direct it well, but he plays Mookie and the choices and conflicts he is facing well. Danny Aiello is Sal, the restaurant owner, and I don't know if I'm supposed to but I felt bad for what happened to him, but in a way he does stir the pot further to get it to the point it does. Joi Lee is Jade, and perhaps one of my favorites. She seems the most sweet natured of the cast. John Turtorro also plays a very hot headed guy, Pino, who is the son of Sal. Turtorro doesn't have a huge part, but definitely knows how to get the feelings stirred negatively toward the guy.
Filming: The movie is shot in very warm colors, you would associate the vibe more with a comedy at first, but unlike others I never got into the humor that seemed to be into the movie. Mostly, because I could tell this movie was building up to something very bad happening. I like the build up though, and how it shows various points till you arrive at night. This movie almost feels like a live show happening as you watch, and the director brings the theme of his movie very well to life.
Plot: The plot explores the idea of what the right thing to do is very well. It's like a domino effect throughout the movie. We see how one person's choice leads to even further chaos, and for me at least it leaves a question of just those beginning steps of what could have been done to prevent what will happen later, which will be the most tragic loss of all. This movie has left controversy in it's wake though as many have questions. I feel that Spike Lee ends the notion of the movie best though with two quotes, one from Martin Luther King and the other from Malcom X that sums up the intentions and thoughts meant to be thought from the movie.
Do the Right Thing is one of the more complex movies I've watched in exploring race issues, and just how complex and not simple it is, but with minor choices perhaps bigger turmoil can be avoided. Like if Sal had just put the photos of notable African American men on his wall to at least respect the heritage of those eating at his restaurant. For many though this will be a hard watch because it doesn't sit lightly.
Rating 8.5 of 10.