Trying to diminish the enormous stack of Criterion DVDs at the house, I watched DO THE RIGHT THING for the first time the night before last. When it ended I immediately watched it again, galvanized by the experience.
My review, excerpted below, is up over at Celluloid Moon.
After the final image fades from Spike Lee's DO THE RIGHT THING, two seemingly disparate quotes appear: one from Dr. Martin Luther King, one from Malcolm X. One speaks out against violence, citing the morality of those faced with the choice of whether or not to exercise it. One advocates its use, stating it's no longer violence when used within the loose context of self defense. The quotes are followed by a photograph of the two famous activists, smiling with their arms around each other.
Two quotes, seemingly at opposite ends of the spectrum, yet beautifully married and understood when placed in the context of Lee's colossal achievement: an empathetic look at racial tension and violence that doesn't pass judgment, but seeks to observe and understand. DO THE RIGHT THING was one of the films I had long held off watching - I was not a huge fan of some of the other Spike Lee films I had seen at that point, and the stream of accolades heaped upon it pushed me further and further away from seeing it. Now, 20 years after it first came out, I was worried about whether the experience, great as it could be, would feel "dated" or out of touch so many years later.
Check out the full review here.