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.
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