Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Do the Right Thing

Tonight I rewatched Do the Right Thing on my laptop. I'd been meaning to do so for a while and as Netflix is removing it from their streaming video list tomorrow I figured I should hop to. I saw it in a theatre when it was first released in 1989. I remember being really affected by it - wanting to discuss it with other people and not really having the words or opportunity to do so. I can't recall where I was living at the time - was I still in Providence or had I returned to Illinois? - but I do recall that the theatre was packed, and that it was the first time I had ever watched a movie in a predominantly Black audience.

24 years later, I live in the neighborhood where it was filmed. In the first screenshot below you can see the sign for my street. Our building is a couple blocks away. It still looks pretty much the same. Not sure where I thought I'd be at age 47 when I saw this film in 1989, but living in this neighborhood would not have even occurred to me.

The film holds up pretty well, even on my computer screen. It's a little long, the pacing is a little weird at times, and some of the editing feels a little herky-jerky, but still, damn! Spike Lee was only like 32 when he made it. I remember feeling devastated at the end the first time I watched it. I think I am now too old to feel devastated by a movie, but I still felt moved by it, and sad, and frustrated by how timely it still feels - by what still hasn't changed in this country.

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