Posts Tagged ‘Do the Right Thing’

Manhattan – Not the One I Know, Woody

Posted 31 Jul 2013 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

Manhattan, USA, 1979

Directed by Woody Allen

Manhattan is beautifully shot an well-acted, but also pretentious and self-absorbed. In the interest of returning this site to our original mission statement of “Movies I Didn’t Get,” I am now going to take on a film that is generally considered to be something of a sacred cow. I have had a long and tumultuous relationship with the films of Woody Allen, partly because, even more than the average artist, his personal life is so very intertwined with his work. Even when not playing the lead character himself, as he so frequently does, Woody’s protagonists are generally thinly veiled (or not at all veiled, as he says in the underrated 1997 film Deconstructing Harry) versions of himself, and the stories he tells are often segments of his own life story. At his best (Annie Hall, Stardust Memories, Hannah and Her Sisters), he produces smart, funny, insightful work that truly captures the human condition in a universal way. At his worst (Celebrity, the dreadfully overrated Midnight in Paris), his work can be insufferably self-absorbed and pretentious. Though the critical establishment would appear to strongly disagree with me on this, I find Woody’s 1979 “masterpiece” Manhattan to be mostly in this latter camp.  Read More

25th Hour – Lee’s Love Letter

Posted 25 Jul 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

25th Hour, USA, 2002

Directed by Spike Lee

25th Hour is a film I can watch over and over again, and always learn something new.I’ll be the first to say that I am not a Spike Lee fan. Outside of a few films, I think the man refuses to see past his skin color and the world in anything other than black versus white, but in 25th Hour, the story of a white drug dealer’s last day before seven years in federal prison, Lee pushes aside his normal agenda and shows us shades of gray that he’s ignored for the majority of his career. It harks back to his breakthrough film Do the Right Thing (1989), in that it asks its viewer a very important question: what do we do now? In what might be the first mainstream film to openly deal with a post-9/11 New York, complete with long shots of Ground Zero and open allusions to the late firemen who dealt with the evacuation and clean-up of the fallen Twin Towers, he reverses his stance and puts it, literally, in another color.

Edward Norton is a powerful actor, without ever doing too much; he lives in the simple parts of his characters and portrays very basic human emotions, but does so with such a natural swagger that you can completely forget you’re watching an actor. His Monty Brogan is the best example of this alternative approach. Here we see a drug dealer get touched and spend his last day of freedom with him. The city has changed, and so has Monty; the lifestyle is gone, and of all the filmmakers to propose a love letter to New York after her fall (we’re still waiting, Woody), in retrospect, Lee should have been the obvious choice. With his extremely candid points of view and the temper he gives all of his projects, it was the right move at the right time. I heard someone refer to the film as a bandage for the city’s wounds and I was insulted, as the point of a bandage is to cover up the wound. Lee’s film is a part of the healing process, for sure, but he never attempts to cover anything up, and literally tells it exactly like it is. Read More

Uplift The Race – Three Spike Lee Joints

Posted 12 May 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Do the Right Thing, USA, 1989

Malcolm X, USA / Japan, 1992

Bamboozled, USA, 2000

Directed by Spike Lee

Spike Lee is one of the most important filmmakers of the late 20th century.

For twenty years now, ever since his debut feature She’s Gotta Have It in 1986, Spike Lee (b. 1957) has been one of the most innovative and provocative directors of his time. As expressed numerous times throughout his many films, Lee’s highest goal is to “wake up” and uplift all oppressed and deluded people, but he has an understandably primary concern for his own people, the African-Americans who have been abused and misrepresented in the United States ever since before it was even called the United States.

Many critics have accused Lee of the same bigotry his films abhor, citing in particular three of his best films – Do The Right Thing, Malcolm X and Bamboozled – as being counterproductive and causing, rather than alleviating, the tensions between various races, but particularly between blacks and whites. Yet all one has to do is view these films to see Lee’s love of all humanity; each one of these films is an eloquent cry of pain at the inhumanity bred by racism in anyone, of any race.  Read More