Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Is That It?

Do the Right Thing
1989. 120 minutes. USA. Directed by Spike Lee. Watchdate: 8/26/2012.
Like La Dolce Vita and In A Lonely Place, Do the Right Thing is one of the those movies that works well enough for most of its running time but then in the final thirty minutes or so launches stratospherically into being one of the most affecting, astonishingly brilliant movies ever.

It may be worth praising the standout performances of Ossie Davis, Danny Aiello, and John Turturro, but this is a case where praising any one part of the movie won't suffice because the whole is so much greater than the sum of its parts. It's not about what the movie is, it's about how the movies grows to be.

She's Gotta Have It and Mo Betta Blues went along way to convincing me that Spike Lee shares a lot of filmmaking vocabulary in common with Woody Allen. This movie began by confirming that assumption and ended by completely, utterly upsetting it.

Lastly, the more erudite cineaste might downgrade Do the Right Thing for its forthright directness. I would counter that it is direct without being at all obvious, cloying, or easy, and that its climax and denouement ask as many questions as they answer. What I mean to say is that this movie is direct without sacrificing an iota of complexity. I don't think it could be any other way.

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