Do the Right Thing
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Unanimous critical acclaim embraces this inventive and extraordinary film from Spike Lee. Newsweek calls it "astonishing." The Houston Post describes it as "exhilarating, joyous and screamingly funny." USA Today calls it "1989's best film." This powerful visual feast combines humor and drama with memorable characters while tracing the course of a single day on a block in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. It's the hottest day of the year, a scorching 24-hour period that will change the lives of its residents forever. Danny Aiello co-stars in this absorbing tale of inner-city life that heats up with vivid images and unforgettable performances.
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Fast forward to 2012, I showed this to high school students after finals this year (yes, I got permission from admin - the language can get pretty rough)and was a bit surprised by the reaction. The students were interested in the conflicts, but saw no relevance to their personal lives. I should mention this is a school that is >95% black and the community has more than one similarity to Bed-Stuy. I felt that the message was still an important one, and was hoping for a bit more discussion, but got very little. All that to say, while I still feel this is an important movie, it seems to have been relegated to the status of a 'period piece' in the minds of many of today's youth.
Not since Gentleman's Agreement have I watched such an intelligent film that explores racism in its many nuances and levels and just as Gregory Peck's character went to great lengths to explain that toleration and passive discrimination is just as bad or even worse than blatant outright discrimination as it is just hypocrisy in that film, Spike Lee does the same with Aiello's character. In "Gentlemen's Agreement" the best scene was when the late great John Garfield character tells the bewildered fiancee of Peck's character who says in effect she's not racist because some of her best friends are Jews that because she just sat and did or said nothing while her other racist friends are spouting racist remarks that in effect she was just as bad. Compare and contrast Aiello's character and that of his older and younger sons. When the older spouted his "animals" crack Aieollo did or said nothing to discourage him suggesting that he was a hypocritical closet racist himself while his younger son stood up several times to the elder brother even risking a beating telling him off whenever he said racist things. Although Raheem was out of line, the scene was important for the subsequent racist cursing Aiello was spouting while he was destroying the radio showing that Aiello was a hypocritical racist all the while and it also shows just how close to the surface it was - Aiello the closet racist while his older son the openly racist with his youngest son the noble anti-racist who makes an attempt to correct them with no success but not for want of trying. And to say that Aiello's character was "innocent" of Raheem's death is ridiculous as it was Aiello's stubborn racism which precipitated the fight causing the arrival of the police. Just putting up a single photo on his wall would mean the police never arrive and kill Raheem. I understand although I don't condone Mookie's subsequent actions as he sees the ludicrousness of how the refusal of a simple, inexpensive, painless request leads to the complex, extremely costly and painful loss of life.
To say that Spike Lee was kinder to the Blacks and harsh on the Whites is ludicrous; he made no attempts to sugar coat the behaviour of the 3 "wise" men bums who constantly talk about doing something but never do and yet one of them gets angry and racist against the Korean new immigrant who has the courage to actually do something. "Mayor" was chided by others in the neighbourhood for making excuses for his predicament instead of doing something about it. Even Mookie as the absentee irresponsible father isn't depicted or intended to be a role model. Lee I thought was very fair in showing the bad behaviour across all the races and characters that he projected. Just being tolerant is not enough and not the endgame but true acceptance and "colour-blindness" is which is what this film tries to convey and I feel succeeds in doing. Being just tolerant is equivalent to a mentality of separate but "equal" which the American Civil Rights movement and Apartheid in the past has shown is a nontenable arrangement which is merely racism disguised. As Dr. Spencer Wells and others have shown in The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey and Journey of Man you can't tell anyone's race from their DNA and so racism is a human/social construct with no scientific basis or justification for "superior" genes. What makes us different is education and opportunity and we all have unique characteristics that makes life on earth interesting. No race has a monopoly on "good genes" while racism can and does ensure that only certain races have a monopoly on good education and good opportunities.
This blu-ray version is a bit of a mixed bag for while the special feature documentaries are extensive and good the picture quality isn't perfect and further restoration can be made for future releases while the sound quality is good enough.
Great film classic with an excellent story and cast but with not so great picture quality makes this a mixed bag but still comes recommended for serious movie buffs who don't yet have this in their video library.
Most recent customer reviews
Is it right?
Dramatized feature- about real life!
Do I have a...........Clue!
Do the right thing!
I have a clue.Read more
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