Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Block Party: Do the Right Thing

An outstanding film by Spike Lee has great characters who I won't forget for a long time and great depth on race. From the start, this movie is about as informal as possible, and that is what seals the deal. You feel a part of the Bed-Stuy neighborhood, and you can relate to the characters. There really is no main character, but the movie mostly follows Mookie (Lee himself), a pizza delivery guy for the neighborhood pizzeria Sal's Famous Pizza, run by Sal (Danny Aiello, who plays the part very well) and his two sons, Pino and Vino (John Tuturro and Richard Edson). All the while, small racial conflicts are happening, such as with Bugging Out (Giancarlo Esposito) and Sal about the lack of pictures of "brothers" on the Wall of Fame and also with Sal, Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) about his "Fight the Power" spewing boombox that he blasts. Outside of the conflicts, there are Da Mayor (Ossie Davis), a usually drunken wise man, Mother Sister (Ruby Dee, amazingly), who is a mother figure, Mister Senor Love Daddy (Samuel L. Jackson), who is the local DJ who punctuates the action with bursts of his own radio and standard DJ stuff, Smiley (Roger Guenveur Smith), a stutterer who keeps selling doodled-on pictures of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. standing next to each other and a few others played by future major actors (Rosie Perez and Martin Lawrence to name a couple). There also a group of lounging old guys making stabs at Mike Tyson and the Korean business across the way. Oh, I've forgot to mention: it's blazing hot, and the heat has shaken things up a bit. This is basically a recap of a day, and it totally works. I can see how Crash was an imitator of this movie. The only difference: this film is hardcore racial greatness and Crash is a pampered, overrated Oscar darling which thinks race is an interesting subject. This movie not only is about racial issues, it knows it like the Brooklyn 'hood it's set in. And, sorry Mr. Haggis, but the same cops motif only works when you are in a certain part of the city, not over the whole city. And Crash is too frickin' serious. Ludicris is funny, but he isn't half as funny as Radio Raheem or Bugging Out or anyone in this masterpiece for that matter. The actors in Crash just played the part. These actors lived it for god's sake. This movie beats Crash to a pulp and then some. This is the definitive race movie. Its statement on violence (especially its epic final scene) and race are unparalleled by anything I have seen. This deserves its spot on the AFI Top 100 as much as Casablanca does, and it is amazing. A

No comments: