Movie Diary 4/21/2019

Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989). I was lukewarm on this movie in 1989, and did a half-assed job of reviewing it. I thought after 30 years I should give another look. The good things in it hold up well, and there isn’t any doubt about its legit place in film history. Lee should get credit for some wonderful bits of casting, including people who would become sizable stars, and the film’s comic beat – not just within scenes, but paced through 120 minutes – is very sharp. The passages that resemble clumsy moments from two-decade-old episodes of All in the Family remain in place. I still think Lee’s stylistic flourishes are mostly flourishes, but the film’s vitality is unflagging. From the vantage point of now, it also deserves credit for not only reflecting its times but for predicting the future.

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