Monday, January 25, 2010

Review: Do The Right Thing

Well ... It's a terribly brilliant film. I mean those words. The subject covered and the events of the film are terrible. However, it is a film that has a reason, a point, a statement that needs to be made. In that sense, it is brilliant. Talking about subjects like these leave everyone on unstable ground. You can hardly say anything without insulting someone. That being said, I am going to go on with this review and hope that no one takes offense to it.
Basic Plot: The hottest day of the year in a Brooklyn neighborhood. The locals are quite varied, and it seems the heat is either helping to fuel the tension, or just a symbol of it. It centers with Mookie, a young African American man who works at the local pizzeria. Normally I wouldn't mention race, but in this movie it is incredibly revelent. The pizzeria is run by an Italian man, Sal, and his two sons, Pino and Vito. Mookie is quite popular in a neighborhood where everyone knows everyone. Most of the residents are African American, but there are also Hispanics (I think, specifically, I don't know where they come from, so sorry, I have to use the umbrella term), there are some Caucasians - the most prominent in the film being the Italian family. There are the Koreans who own a store across from the Pizzeria. I think I got everyone there. Needless to say, there is racial tension. Just a bit through most of the film. It seems like everyone is going on their day to day routine. But then things start to go awry.
This is a film I would love to have a discussion about with other people. It begs to be discussed, because a one-sided review will never do it justice.
I have to say that there are so many things about this film that I do not like. Mostly it has to do with the intense anger in it. From almost every side. I will admit that I am niave, but I just don't understand why everyone is so angry all the time. Even their jokes are angry. Kindness is suspicious, and its a view of a terrible world. It takes a while to see it though. Like I said, it seems like business as usual with normal skirmishes here and there, but overall, the idea is that these people may fight, but like a family, they are there for each other. And it is not just racism. There are so many conflicts in the film. Conflicts in families, in different generations, social classes, etc. Like I said, there is just so much anger.
The acting is quite good. From everyone. No weak link, which makes the story all the more powerful. The thing is, everyone is so good that no one character stands above the others. It is not a star vehicle, and although the story does revolve around the Mookie character, he is not the focus. The focus is the bigger picture - and that makes for a classy film.
The thing that bugs me (not the most, but just bugs me) is the title. It implies that the right thing is going to be done in the film. And that has led to and will continue to lead to a controversy. What is the "right thing" in the film? Who does it? And where you think the "right thing" happens will completely change the film for each person. There is no clear-cut moment for me in this film. I have an idea of what I think it is, but from what reviews I have read, everyone else thinks it is something quite different. It's hard for me to see the right in this movie because so much of it is wrong.
It just makes me uncomfortable. I'm not saying it is bas because of this, I'm just stating a fact.
I do recognize it's intensions, and I see how good it is. Everyone should see this movie and take something (hopefully good) from it. But it is different from person to person what they will take. I can see how this film can add to a person's hate just as easily as it can inspire a person to love - and I think that is what makes me most uncomfortable about it.
It is an ugly film in a sense. People die. Dreams are burned. Neighbor turns against neighbor. The ugly side of every human is shown in a blinding spot. But it is powerful.
4 out of 5 stars.

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