Spike Lee's take on the "Son of Sam" murders in New York City during the summer of 1977 centering on the residents of an Italian-American Northeast Bronx neighborhood who live in fear and distrust of one another.
This film looks at life in the Bedford-Stuyvesant district of Brooklyn on a hot summer Sunday. As he does everyday, Sal Fragione opens the pizza parlor he's owned for 25 years. The neighborhood has changed considerably in the time he's been there and is now composed primarily of African-Americans and Hispanics. His son Pino hates it there and would like nothing better than to relocate the eatery to their own neighborhood. For Sal however, the restaurant represents something that is part of his life and sees it as a part of the community. What begins as a simple complaint by one of his customers, Buggin Out - who wonders why he has only pictures of famous Italian-Americans on the wall when most of his customers are black - eventually disintegrates into violence as frustration seemingly brings out the worst in everyone. Written by
I have heard people describe Spike Lee as a second-rate filmmaker; all I have to say is that second-rate filmmakers do not make films like this. Do the Right Thing is a masterpiece in both style and substance, and Im hard pressed to think of a more powerful, earth-shattering film.
But first, let's talk about the style. The color palette of the movie is wonderful; while its mostly deep reds, they manage to bring home the feeling that the residents of Bed-Stuy must have been feeling on that day. The cinematography is excellent... it features a lot of weird viewpoints and angles, but they are used to great effect and manage to work within the style of the film. One thing that really managed to impress me about the film is the razor sharp dialogue... each character has their own style of talking, and it really works well. This is a masterfully written film.
Now the substance... this movie manages to spiral into a truly spectacular ending. Throughout, its easy to see the necessary elements building, and, when it happens, it hardly seems like a surprise, but that doesn't make it any less shattering. The way that each character acts defines this movie throughout, especially at the end! Spike Lee does a brilliant job here. The movie is interesting and well-made throughout; each of the characters are three-dimensional and feel like real human beings - their motivation is understood throughout.
Do the Right Thing is a brilliant movie that never lags and never lets up. It manages to be vastly entertaining and vastly powerful at the same time. It's truly an amazing achievement in film, and its a shame it was not recognized more for its obvious brilliance when it was released in 1989.
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