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Movie Critic Article: Do The Right Thing 1989

"This movie is dynamite under every seat," wrote Newsweek's Jack Kroll.
"Race is the unraveled sign of the contemporary age." Norman Denzin."It's not like this thing has disappeared because (President Obama) is in the White House," Spike Lee on racism.




It seems that racism needs to be practiced some more. Let's shake it well next time so that solutions to its many issues settle down evenly in our souls. To be black or white is a once in a while thing. The while being this Godly time. It's eternal!
So here is a movie that does not transcend this eternality.
The setting?
I guess Brooklyn is a hard setting for such a dealing.
Probably a sub-committee in one of the UN venues is a lot better.
But it is Brooklyn!
This is an environmental movie with an anthropological subplot to it.
The weather and the marginal existence(s) ...Asians, Puerto Ricans etc.!
The centrality of the heat was best emphasized by Spike Lee in some brilliant sweaty shots.
The movie Do The Right Thing narrates the events of a day in a rough neighborhood in New York. The only objective reason for the eventualities that took place could be measured by.... a thermometer! Writes Cynthia Scott: "weather plays a significant role in the film from start to finish - -it is the oppressive summer heat which stokes racial conflicts to the surface, driving the film to its tragic and violent climax -"
HaHa political activation, social altercation? Nothing accounts for anything except the heat of the day! But there are precedents!
In Camus' "The Stranger" the protagonist Meursault could not remember any reason for his killing of the Arab upon encountering him other than the heat and glare at the Mediterranian beach.
The people in Sal's Pizzeria are on the brink, then. Prone to fight back the heat.
The four bullets Meursault fired at the corpse, following the first one which killed the man, were just a kind of heat-borne viruses that scavenge the dead, confirming their demise.
The rant takes the outward burst. A series of ranting faces, contorted with heat traverse the scene.
We have more than the equivalent of  Meursault's bullets as an impact.
Violence breeds violence.
The killing of Radio Raheem is sheer hate. It is beyond racism and into the ultra. His left hand in knuckles engraved with the word 'hate' could not reach his killers. His right hand with the word 'love' on its knuckles fills part of the screen as he falls dead.
The movie begins with a wild dance that spans the opening credits' sequence. Rosie Perez dances fiercely to Public Enemy's "Fight The Power". The changing costumes of the dancer send symbolic messages to the viewer. The politics intertwine with the personal.
After an argument with Sal (shop owner) about the pizza he bought, Buggin' Out demands that Sal place some pictures of black "brothers" on the wall alongside the pictures of Italian-American celebrities already there, since, Buggin explains, Sal's pizzeria is situated in a black neighborhood and sells most of its product to black people. Sal replies that it is his store; he is proud of his Italian heritage and he doesn't have to feature anyone but Italians on his wall. Mookie tries to defuse the situation by taking Buggin' Out outside and telling him to wait a week before coming back. Buggin' Out on his way out shouts to the people in the place "boycott Sal, boycott Sal!" but no one will support his protest except Radio Raheem, who earlier got into an argument with Sal about playing his boombox loudly in the store.


Sal, an Italian pizza shop owner, oversees his corner business.
That evening, as the shop is closing, Radio Raheem and Buggin' Out march in and loudly demand that Sal put pictures of black celebrities on the wall. Radio Raheem's boombox is playing at its loudest causing Sal to yell at Raheem to turn the volume down or leave the shop, but the two were made ready to fight by the heat of the day. They refuse to leave the place. Sal snaps and destroys Radio Raheem's boombox with a baseball bat. Raheem is enraged and attacks Sal. A fight ensues along with a crowd of spectators. The policemen arrive at the scene and try to arrest Radio Raheem and Buggin' Out. Raheem struggles with the cops who 'chokehold' him to his death. 
The situation becomes dangerously critical after Raheem's death. The mob become agitated. Mookie takes a garbage can and flings it through the glass window of Sal's Pizzeria thereby dircting the mob to destroy the place. Apparently it was a good decision from Mookie to prevent further deaths. And also to serve his own interests.
The heat will go but racial prejudices have to be addressed.
It is noteworthy that the movie is adequately populated, in a representative fasion, with characters (Da Mayor, Mother Sister, Senior Love Daddy, the three guys on chairs)  that provide density to the plot through their comments but are not, for economy, detailed by the script which reminds one of the theater or the stories of (magical realism.)
We see Martin Laurence in his beginnings and Samuel L. Jackson and others.

The film embraces moral precepts derived from two seemingly contradictory quotations from Black American leaders: Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. King's words favor non-violence while X's realistically accepts violence in self-defense.
'Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral.' Martin Luther King Jr.
'I am not against using violence in self-defense. I don't even call it violence when it is in self-defense. I call it intelligence.' Malcolm X. 

"Do the Right Thing" is watch-worthy.
Ironically no one seems to have done exactly the right thing as advised by Da Mayor but the movie is deemed fair by both racial camps.

King & X

Do The Right Thing USA 120 min Color
Genre: Drama.
Written, produced and directed by Spike Lee.
Music:  William Lee, Spike's father. A memorable mix of jazz.and the Public Enemy song "Fight the Power."
Cast: Spike Lee as Mookie, Danny Aiello as Sal, Giancarlo Esposito as Buggin Out, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee as Da Mayor and Mother Sister, John Turturro as Pino, Rosie Perez as Tina, Samuel Jackson, Martin Laurence. 
The movie was nominated for two Academy Awards.
In 2007 the American Film Institute ranked it as one of The 100 best American Films.
Wins The Movie Achieved:
Best Cinematography - Ernest R. Dickerson - 1989 New York Film Critics Circle
U.S. National Film Registry - 1999 Library of Congress
Best Director - Spike Lee - 1988 Los Angeles Film Critics Association
Best Music Score - William [act-8] Lee - 1988 Los Angeles Film Critics Association
Best Picture - 1988 Los Angeles Film Critics Association


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