Film of the Week: Do the Right Thing (1989)

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Spike Lee directs himself, Danny Aiello and Ossie Davis in this hyper reality snapshot of life in an impoverished New York City black community on the day leading up to a tragic death. 

We watched this yesterday as prep for our upcoming New York trip, only to read about Bill Nunn’s (Radio Raheem) real life death almost immediately after. Double tragic happenstance as there are other blatantly obvious reasons why this is still achingly timely for Americans. His is one of a plethora of great performance in Lee’s didactic, frantic, colourful, experimental work which jibes at everyone’s own inherent racism by making you pick sides and form bonds (or reject with laugh raising ridicule) with all manner of directionless predjudice, hate and anger in a setting that is both recognisable yet theatrical. A powerful work currently sitting stylistically in that weird limbo where the visuals and risks feel a little dated rather than classical. Still it is funny, engaging and complicatedly honest. Back to the brilliant ensemble; Aiello is the stand out as the white man business owner who does not recognise his own hidden racism as he openly loves the community he profits from until the heat gets too much. An early Samuel L Jackson role is also blisteringly cool. In a decade’s time this will be back on top as many people’s favourite movie about race and city life and just being human. And that’s the triple truth, Ruth!

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