Hello everyone, currently I’m curing myself from a mental breakdown and taking a break from art and videos, but I’ve decided to write this review after 1 day of break… I guess it’s ok since it’s written and fairly serious instead of a video with comedic elements.
People who know me well, know that it’s rare for me to watch movies. I wasn’t in a cinema since years and usually I turn on my TV only to play PS2 or watch South Park… And even if it happens that I watch a movie, it’s a movie I saw many times before. But there are times when exceptions have to be made and this one was …
“Do the right thing” directed by Spike Lee
A movie I watched only because of a scene in the TV series “The Critic” where a key scene of the movie was parodied… So as for usually, I have very stupid motivations to “do the right thing”, heh pun intended.
I was told the movie is very sad and controversial … People said the movie would have caused even bigger controversies if it wasn’t for the fact that the director Spike Lee himself is black! I also read about it in the TV Magazine, where it was called a drama… a movie genre that I hate and usually associate with a story of a woman that lost her husband/kids and her life is so miserable… which doesn’t make me feel sorry for her that much, since she’s a fictional character! I can best be sorry for her, that her director is a nasty guy who wrote her life story in the most painful way possible, so the viewers can enjoy watching her suffer by crying to it… Thank GOD Spike Lee’s Drama is much more of my liking.
The whole thing happens in Brooklyn, during a VERY hot summer. The whole neighborhood is filled with Afro Americans, Puerto Ricans and there’s a store owned by a Korean family, and one of the main locations of the movie, a Pizzeria build and opened by an Italian-American family.
The main character of the movie is called Mookie (played by director Spike Lee himself)and he works in the pizzeria as a delivery boy. “Sal” owns the pizzeria, he’s been in this neighborhood since 25 years and he likes it here, his older son “Pino” however does not like the restaurant, the black customers and wishes his father would decide to move. There’s also Vito, the younger of the two sons, who’s friends with Mookie and hates his brother for being so racist and lazy.
The big main conflict of the movie is caused by a “Wall of Fame” inside the restaurant. Sal has photographs of famous Italian-Americans, which makes one of the customers angry, since he demands there to be famous black people on the wall as well, since all his customers are black. “Buggin’ Out” (yes that is his nick) starts to boycott the pizzeria and tries to find others to support him.
Before the “ultimate showdown” can happen, the movie will show us other cast members as well. Such as a local drunk who tries to win the heart of a lady, the classic “three wise men” who just sit around the whole day drinking beer and complaining why all the shop owners around here are not black and last but not least, a mentally disabled white guy who walks around the neighborhood selling photographs and mostly repeating things people tell him (a character which might be very symbolic in this whole conflict of races).
However, what surprised me very positively with this movie is how few purely positive and few purely negative characters exist in this movie. Mookey is a hard working guy, but he also has a girlfriend and a son, and he’s neither a good husband nor father. Sal is grumpy, but he loves the neighborhood and he’s only unkind to customers who threat him bad as well. The Korean family.. even if they may be greedy and don’t bother to learn the English language properly, they work hard and actually do something instead of like some characters sit and complain “cause I’m black”.
I have to give the movie a lot credit for being so realistic. I thought this movie would be racist and showing one side in a negative light… The conflict doesn’t outburst so fast and most people call the boycott a waste of time, it simply grows to much more through the course of the movie. People are frustrated with the whole situation and the whole heat that’s going on.
One of my favorite (even if not for positive reasons) scenes is a special transition made. Each character is shown standing somewhere, the camera is directed at him and we keep switching between them, each character rants in a very nasty way about Italians, Afro Americans, Latinos, Koreans, White cops… it goes on and on, a spiral of hatred, which from one side is so sad, but on the other hand is so ridiculous and pointless that deep inside you want to laugh.
The movie takes place in the 80s, so the situation might have changed since that time, but I’m sure there’s still neighborhoods like that in the US… which is sad.
Overall it’s one of the best movies I have watched in a very long time and I advice people to watch it while they get a chance to. It won several well deserved awards… And a lot of pointless controversy… while showing nothing but the sad and true image. But I wouldn’t say it depressed me, sure it left me with a feeling “We sadly live in a sick world” but the movie ends with a few quotes from Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, and the title “Do the right thing” re-appears and that somehow made me end this whole thing with a smile and the confidence that things aren’t hopeless and it’s up to us.
So… “Do the right thing” and watch this movie, will ya?
Side notes: Something I thought I’d add as an ending comment … The movie also left a positive feeling in me, because… I am from Poland, a country which really isn’t multi-ethnic. Sure we have our conflicts in terms of religion, sexual orientation and political views, but nothing major about skin color. This made me worried that I cannot understand the way Afro-Americans are living and that this movie would tell me a lot of things I didn’t know, but it did not, it turned out most of what I believed was like, was true … either this means I’m no ignorant or the conflicts we have here in Poland aren’t much different and that it’s all the same mess we all have to stop with… or both?
I also felt some satisfaction reading Spike Lee’s comments to the movie and the controversy it led to, that I found in the net. Apparently a lot of people think the title suggests a question “DID HE do the right thing?” and that the quotes of Malcolm X and Luther King are in denial, thus it’s a choice. To which Spike Lee commented that only “white viewers” think so. And since I never had doubts if it was the right thing or not and never thought the quotes were in denial… I think I may not be the 100% white bread guy I feared to be :)