Thursday, July 16, 2009

Spike Lee Did the Right Thing

Do the Right Thing, Spike Lee’s iconic movie about racial tension in America, Brooklyn in particular, is enjoying its 20th anniversary this year. Atlanta’s Fox Theatre of Gone With the Wind movie debut fame, held a showing of Lee’s film on July 12 with Spike on the stage afterwards taking questions. The producer as well showed up along with Radio Raheem, and Joie Lee. I’d seen the movie once before. But Lee’s art today is stronger than ever. The complexities of racism, smoldering hatred shared by groups of people, the compassion that survives, and most importantly, the need for brave action in the face of relentless injustice come together in pastiche of moments that build to a breaking point. When Mookie throws the trash can I was with him (but sitting comfortably in my theatre seat) and conflicted at the same time knowing that violence is not the solution. Direct quotes from M.L.King, Jr. and Malcolm X at the end of the movie lend a thoughtful perspective on violence and peace as posited by Lee’s story. It’s a brilliant movie because of the artistic vision (e.g., performances Rose Perez, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Bill Nunn, Danny Aiello; the beautiful camera angles that guide the viewer’s eye; Lee’s character who shows vulnerability and strength). But most of all, I was moved by Lee as director; his vision and art that does not shy from complexities surrounding racism. It is a testament to this movie’s timely message that we have yet to face these issues of racism today even with an African American elected to president. Rent the movie, watch it, watch it again.

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