OTB#29: Do The Right Thing

Man that’s how you start a movie! Fight the Power by Public Enemy and a slamming dance routine!

I have not seen this movie since it was released (and I was 21), but I remember being all excited about it (and disappointed with almost every subsequent Spike Lee movie).

(Hm… that’s like 34 years ago… how old does that make me? *gasp* It cannot be! PUT THAT MATH AWAY)

Oh, the Lon Guyland (?) repartee…

Oh, I’d forgotten that Spike Lee acts in this, as well as being the writer, producer and directer. Très auteaur.

OK… my enthusiasm is evaporating. I guess I’ve seen a lot of American indie movies over the last decades, so what I found to be really original and interesting back then now seems kinda rote? Especially the performances — they’re kinda not all there. I mean… I guess Lee isn’t exactly going for naturalistic or anything, but the performances just seem all over the place: Some of them seem to be doing The Method, while others seem to be reading their lines off a teleprompter, and some people seem to be finding the scenery delectable and chewing it all up.

But I still love the colours.

Lee likes this angle, man.

I’m getting stressed out by these pizzas! It seems like every one in waiting around for fifteen minutes while people work out their dramas before getting delivered. THE PIZZAS ARE GETTING COLD

I’m starting to get into this again now… I was overly enthusiastic, and then crushingly disappointed, but now I’m enjoying this.

I’ve been wondering this entire time where I’ve seen the guy playing Vito last and going “well, he kinda looks like John Lurie, but isn’t, so it’s not Stranger Than Paradise”. I finally broke down and looked him up:

It’s Stranger Than Paradise!

Well… No, I’m still disappointed. I can well see people having this as their favourite movie ever, because it’s definitely got something special. Some of the scenes are really good, and it’s got a proper mood going. And I like the Robert Altmanesque so-many-things-going-on-you-have-no-idea-where-it’s-going thing.

But there’s some scenes that are just hokey beyond belief, and it loses tension that’s hard to regain.

Oh, Kenneth Branagh… that makes sense. I remember Lee and Branagh coming onto the scene about the same time, both doing ambitious movies…

There’s only one more new entry on the Sight & Sound 2022 Directors’ List to go — the top 30 doesn’t get many brand new entries; the vast majority are in #50-100, which is natural.

Do The Right Thing. Spike Lee. 1989.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best 2022 series.

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