Saturday, April 10, 2010

1989: Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee)

1989: Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee)
Spike's an interesting director.  So much energy and pretty damn prolific.  I can't say I've loved every one of his films, but there's a passion that comes through in his work that's pretty infectious. 


He's versatile, a major risk-taker, and someone that can do comedy just as well as drama.  And when it comes to blending genres, he's about as fearless as they come.  


Do the Right Thing is one of my favorite of all his films.  The way it juxtaposes comedy and drama is as powerful as it is unsettling.  In other words, the drama hits hard, and the comedy is laugh out loud funny.  There's a real verve to the music, to the style, to the writing, and to the colors.  It has heart, gets at a few issues, but it also entertains. And Rosie Perez dancing to Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" is one of American independent cinema's most iconic moments.  A fun and powerful work from Spike.   




Other contenders for 1989: I still have some titles to see.  These include Hou Hsiao-hsien's City of Sadness, Abbas Kiarostami's Homework, Jane Campion's Sweetie, Monte Hellman's Iguana, Jacques Rivette's Gang of Four, Robert Kramer's Route One USA, Jean-Claude Brisseau's Noce blanche, Kenneth Branagh's Henry V, and Paul Mazursky's Enemies: A Love Story.  From this year, I really like Jim Jarmusch's Mystery Train.  I love Nanni Moretti's Palombella rossa and Brian De Palma's Casualties of War.  And my closest runner-up is Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors.

1/1/11 I watched Steve Kloves' The Fabulous Baker Boys.  Kloves can write, and at times, his writing is so sharp that I felt like I was watching some of the best American romantic comedies from the thirties updated for the next generations.  Grusin gets in the way at times.  His music's a bit overbearing.  Still, Kloves gives Pfeiffer one of her greatest roles, and she comes through excellently. 


2/17/11 I watched Michael Moore's Roger & Me.  Moore is an entertainer and like Sacha Baron Cohen, a good deal of his entertainment value comes from his ability to take risks and push the envelope with other people.  He's not subtle, and points off for rarely presenting all sides of the picture, but he's an effective muckraker.  And certainly a more than competent filmmaker.  

4/8/14 I watched Mark Cousins' The Story of Film: Fight the Power: Protest in Film.  Although I think Cousins tries to cover too much ground in each episode, I appreciated his coverage of Russian cinema, Chinese cinema, Lynch, Spike Lee, and particularly of John Sayles. 

6 comments:

  1. "Put some more mozarella on that mother fuck and shit!"

    That and a number of other lines are regularly woven into the movie reference dialogue I engage with my youngest brother and some friends. This is a marvelous choice for the #1 position, and it's easily Spike Lee's best film. MALCOLM X is #2.

    My Own #1 Film of 1989:

    Henry V (Branagh)


    Runners-Up:

    The Cook, the Thief His Wife and Her Lover (Branagh; UK)
    Santa Sange (Jodorowsky; Mexico/Italy)
    Driving Miss Daisy (Beresford; USA)
    A Village Romeo and Juliet (Weigl; W. Germany)
    Jesus of Montreal (Arcand; Canada)
    Field of Dreams (Robinson; USA)
    Dead Poets Society (Weir; USA)
    Do the Right Thing (Lee; USA)
    Crimes and Misdemeanors (Allen; USA)
    Glory (Zwick; USA)
    Last Exit to Brooklyn (Edel; USA)
    Creature Comforts (Park; UK)
    The Match Factory Girl (Kaurismaki; Finland)
    My Left Foot (Sheridan; Ireland/UK)
    Monsieur Hire (Leconte; France)
    Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (Almodovar; Spain)
    Sweetie (Campion; New Zealand)
    The Mahabarata (Brook; UK)
    Drugstore Cowboy (Van Sant; USA)
    Born on the Fourth of July (Stone; USA)
    Camille Claudel (Nuytten; France)

    Needless to say this is the greatest year of the 80's, (1987 is very close) and in fact of all-time.

    Greenaway's THE COOK THE THIEF, HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER came within a hair of the Branagh. It's a tough call, but a number of others here are masterworks, including one of the greatest of all Canadian films, one of teh greatets opera film by Peter Weigl, one of teh greatest sports films ever made, one of Woody Allen's best films ever, and one of the greatest of the 'inspiring school teacher' genre.

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  2. A tough year for me to call on this one, as there are two films that I think are magnificent - Woody Allen's CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS and Kenneth Branagh's HENRY V. I went with Henry V the first time around and I will stick with that now, but I still think that Crimes is my favorite Allen film.

    Henry V is unbelievably good, Jeffrey, check it out as soon as you can. Branagh does an amazing job acting and directing.

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  3. Sam, that's a great line! Made me laugh, again.

    I still need to see your top pick, as well as the Jodorowsky, Beresford, Weigl, and Arcand films you mention.

    I haven't seen DEAD POETS SOCIETY nor FIELD OF DREAMS in forever so would need to revisit them before really commenting. As for the Greenaway, I did like it the one time I saw it, although a little less than the ones I mentioned.

    Thanks, Sam. Always great having you here!

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  4. Dave, I definitely will check HENRY V out. It sounds excellent!

    Thanks, Dave. Always great hearing from you here!

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  5. Like you I love some of Lee's work and others I can do without. Either way he is one of the most interesting filmmakers today/ Myself, I am going to have to go with "Crime and Misdemeanors", one of Woody's masterpieces, a terrific blend of drama and comedy.

    # 1 Crime and Misdemeanors

    Runner ups
    Born on the 4th of July
    My Left Foot
    Do the Right Thing
    When Harry Met Sally
    Dead Poets Society
    Camille Claudel
    Driving Miss Daisy

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  6. John, great to hear from you! I completely agree with you about the Lee and Allen films.

    From your list, I need to revisit BORN ON THE 4TH OF JULY and WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. It's been too long since I've seen them to know where they'd place on this list. I also still need to see MY LEFT FOOT and CAMILLE CLAUDEL.

    Thanks, John. Always great having you here!

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