Do the Right Thing

Do the Right Thing

DVD - 2001
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"The hottest day of the year explodes onscreen in this vibrant look at a day in the life of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. A portrait of urban racial tensions sparked controversy while earning popular and critical praise,"--Container.
Publisher: Universal City, CA : Universal City Studios : distributed by the Criterion Collection, 2001
ISBN: 9781559409100
155940910X
Branch Call Number: DVD FIC D
Characteristics: 2 videodiscs (ca. 240 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in

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From Library Staff

List - SZA: Influences
KCLSJessicaH Jan 14, 2018

"Most of the people I looked up to weren't your typical artists, like a favorite gymnast, ice-skater, saxophonist, painter, or movie director — I really love Spike Lee."

1989 Spike Lee film about race and police brutality in Brooklyn.


From the critics


Community Activity

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l
lillyth2k
Sep 10, 2020

This movie is art's imitation of life, sadly.
These things are still happening now, and Lord
knows when it will change.

0
0266
Sep 09, 2020

Brilliant film that is still relevant today.

Lovestoread5 Jul 18, 2020

Brilliant! I'd watch it again, like I did "Crash."

d
dmasterson
Apr 14, 2020

Some of the best world building in the history of film. A fantastic story of racial tension in a New York neighborhood reaching a boiling point.

g
gord_ma
Jul 09, 2019

Update: Spike Lee will personally be at the TIFF Lightbox on July 19 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of [Do the Right Thing] and its 4K digital restoration (https://tiff.net/events/do-the-right-thing-with-spike-lee).
 
Like the great American novels, [Do the Right Thing], undoubtedly Spike Lee’s masterpiece, is a great American film. An exemplar of the art of filmmaking, it is a virtual slice in time and in place of its America. The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik stated in an interview on PBS on the passing of J.D. Salinger that nobody captured New York in the late-1940s better than Salinger. Well, nobody better than Spike Lee captured Bedford–Stuyvesant in Brooklyn during the hottest day of the late-1980s. Just watch it. If we must create interactive holographic programs in the future of Brooklyn in the late-1980s, [Do the Right Thing] would definitely be a great resource.
   [Do the Right Thing] is essentially a coming-of-age story set in a country still grappling with the responsibilities of its adulthood and the uncertainties of its future. Like 19th century Bildungsroman, written by German-speaking authors in a pre-Unification Germany in search of a unified homeland and spiritual happiness, [Do the Right Thing] is about young individuals who grapple with similar existential questions. Mookie (Spike Lee), the protagonist, is challenged by inner turmoil, repression in one’s community, questions of identity (a man or a father), his meaning in life, and the march of time that renders his life and the lives of everyone else in his community and their histories increasingly irrelevant.
   Arguably, [Do the Right Thing] was the ’80s east coast version of George Lucas’ [American Graffiti]. Both were coming-of-age films about young men on the cusp of adulthood. Both films featured radio DJs who helped to narrate the film and who physically interacted with the protagonists. Both films were distinctly and uniquely American. Both were also bizarre and fantastic, with the inaccessible and mysterious blond in the Ford Thunderbird replaced in Brooklyn with Rosie Perez’s accessible but not too accessible Tina, the almost four-minute dancing “fly girl.”
   Like Francis Ford Coppola’s [The Godfather], students of film can learn a lot about setting, layers/composition, and cinematography from [Do the Right Thing]. Take the scene where Sal and his son have an argument in the foreground with the Korean family and their convenience store in the background minding their own business. Smiley then approaches Sal and his son for a donation. Smiley is sent away off-screen to the left where Robin Harris’ character is, who yells back at Sal and his son. What’s so great about this scene is that the set isn’t the pizzeria but it’s the intersection and it is a set that exists in time and in space (three-dimensionally). This is not just film. This is life. And during this entire scene, by the actions and dialogue of the characters alone, all the characters from all the layers interact with each other according to their established character traits.
   When I was done with the film, I watched one of the documentary films and Spike Lee mentioned realism when he was filming [Do the Right Thing]. Yes, the film is realistic. And yes, this film is very much an example of the realist French New Wave, except it was set in New York and not being in monochrome. On one hand, Spike Lee demonstrated a mastery of conventional styles like the directors of the French New Wave and on the other hand Lee rejected them as being insufficient for his artistic needs. There is no happy ending, but only change and unanswered questions. “Did Mookie do the right thing?” “Did Sal have insurance?” “How hot was it that day?” Like those 19th century novelists, we will never know the answers to these questions. And like most readers of J.D. Salinger would know: Not only will we never know why, but also we’re not supposed to. That’s life.

ArapahoeStaff20 May 30, 2019

Spike Lee does an amazing job of dragging you along into every character flaw. The ordinary-ness of each character builds to an incredible conclusion. I struggled to watch a day in the life of this group of people, and was blown away with how perfectly my discomfort was orchestrated. Cinema perfection...

s
samjenks
May 03, 2019

The movie should be called do the wrong thing.

n
Normwil
Feb 25, 2019

Parts of this were ok. I would've rather watched a western.

p
PDBurt
Feb 17, 2019

I waited a long time to get this dvd as it was 4 stars and had good reviews. It was alright but I couldn't hear much of what people were saying while background noises were horribly loud. Most of the dark skinned 'brothers' and their girlfriends were wearing designer clothes, which is just so unbelievable. There was too much rap music, contention, frustration, etc. Every second word was the F word and then at the very end there was 1 quote from a great man, Martin Luther King, who encouraged non violent protest amongst thousands of people which caused a giant shift in African American's gaining more rights and respect. After this quote was a second quote by Malcom X who encouraged violence and promoted more of the same old racism, this time by black people. The young man in the movie who wanted pictures of famous black people on the pizzeria wall was the instigator for the fight and the killing of the young man with the radio was the instigator of the riot. This dvd SUPPOSEDLY is to kindle empathy in people but it seems more like a call for more violence.

k
Ky68RasK
Nov 09, 2018

A day in the life of one block in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Shot in what seems to be yellow-filter, everything looks like someone's fond memory of the place where they grew up.

However, racial violence explodes. This film came out in 1989. Lamentably, it is still relevant.

Wonderful acting by Danny Aiello, who, deservedly, received an Oscar nomination as best supporting actor.

It concludes with two contradictory quotes from Malcolm X and MLK. Lee says he wanted people to think about racial violence. I suppose those quotes are meant to jump-start you into that.

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Quotes

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b
britprincess1
Aug 07, 2012

"Always do the right thing."

b
britprincess1
Aug 07, 2012

"Those that'll tell don't know, and those that know won't tell."

b
britprincess1
Aug 07, 2012

"Do your friends put money in your pocket? Food on your table, they pay your rent, a roof over your head? They're not your friends. If they were your friends, they wouldn't laugh at you."

b
britprincess1
Aug 07, 2012

"Today's temperature's gonna rise up over 100 degrees, so there's a Jheri curl alert! That's right, Jheri curl alert. If you have a Jheri curl, stay in the house or you'll end up with a permanent black helmet on your head fuh-eva!"

b
britprincess1
Aug 07, 2012

"You're 30 cents away from having a quarter!"

b
britprincess1
Aug 07, 2012

"You almost knocked me down, man. The word is 'Excuse me'."

b
britprincess1
Aug 07, 2012

"Let me tell you the story of right hand-left hand. It's a tale of good and evil. Hate: it was with this hand that Cain iced his brother. Love: these five fingers, they go straight to the soul of man. The right hand: the hand of love. The story of life is this: static. One hand is always fighting the other hand, and the left hand is kicking much ass. I mean, it looks like the right hand--Love--is finished. But hold on, stop the presses; the right hand is coming back. Yeah, he got the left hand on the ropes now, that's right. Ooh, it's a devastating right and Hate is hurt. He's down. Left-Hand Hate KO-ed by Love."

Notices

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b
britprincess1
Aug 07, 2012

Violence: Some violence (I can't describe in detail as it risks spoiling the film), but most of it could be seen on the news, so it's fair to say it's present but not brutally harsh, especially for today's standards in, say, action films or crime dramas.

b
britprincess1
Aug 07, 2012

Other: Some scenes show mere glimpses of smoking and beer-drinking.

b
britprincess1
Aug 07, 2012

Coarse Language: 240 uses of the F-word, even more uses of the N-word, and many uses of various other cusses, including a wide range of racial slurs (one scene includes a montage of different prejudicial views on different rases that are filled with them). If coarse language is a concern to you, then this film will be highly inappropriate.

b
britprincess1
Aug 07, 2012

Frightening or Intense Scenes: The climactic scene (involving a great deal of violence and destruction) in this film may be intense for more sensitive viewers.

b
britprincess1
Aug 07, 2012

Sexual Content: A woman rubs ice on her naked breasts, legs, and thighs to cool down from the heat outside. The scene is fairly brief.

Age

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b
britprincess1
Aug 07, 2012

britprincess1 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Summary

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b
britprincess1
Aug 07, 2012

As a pizza delivery guy travels through one particular street in Brooklyn and mixes amongst the collection of residents, everyone's hate and bigotry comes to a boil until the bubble of semi-civility explodes.

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