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Do The Right Thing

By Bret McCabe | Posted 10/7/2009

Spike Lee's third writing/directing effort may not feel as volatile as it did when it came out in 1989--some reactionary journalists actually believed that it might incite riots--but this warts/all look at race in America as it affects one Bed-Stuy block on the hottest day of the year still packs a tremendous punch. Bolstered by an outstanding cast--Ruby Dee's regal grace, Richard Edson's incomparable wince, Giancarlo Esposito's high-top fade, Samuel L. Jackson's voice--and cinematographer Ernest Dickerson's amazing palette, Lee had finally written the story that complimented his socially expressive visual ideas. And that story is a magnificently prescient lit stick of dynamite. The setting: an Italian-American corner pizza parlor in a predominantly African-American neighborhood. The dynamic: anger pushing class differences into racial tension. The spark: police willing to do whatever to maintain so-called law and order. Finally: Rosie Perez Public Enemy = one of the best ways to open a movie, ever.

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