17 December 2006

93. do the right thing

this movie is on this list because it deals with racism in the most even-handed way you could, and shows a wonderful microcosm of america. the movie's main clash is between blacks and whites, but we also have latino and asian characters in the mix, giving us a cross-section of all of our country inside of one block in bed-stuy. once again, the specific is always universal.

the writing is good on the macro level, because it addresses racism in regards to every single culture shown, and in every character. witness the rightly famous mini-monologues of slurs directed to the camera: this is the movie in a nutshell, with characters who are fed up, and venting at each other in ways they could never do in real life. these are confessions, and spike lee's direct handling of the reality of every race's tendency towards bigotry is humanistic in handling and executing: in other words, everyone gets chance to speak, even if what they are saying is awful.

but the writing also works well because it gives us a multitude of characters and incidents, almost vingettes, and allows for a slow build towards a terrible event that, when it happens, seems so organic, natural and ineventable that we instantly forget how much fun we were having the past hour or so.

more so than the writing, i thought the strong point of the movie was how well it was shot. the production design, especially in regard to COLOR, was fabulous. couple that with ernest dickerson's fluid crane shots, use of canted framing and sparing use of handheld, great formal composition shots, flawless lighting (look at da mayor with the street lamp above his head talking to mother sister to see what i mean) and its a movie whose images hold in memory.

but the main thing is the message. it is a movie that asks us to acknowledge and deal with the fact that racism is in our faces always, because our country was founded on it, and it continues every time a new immigrant arrives. spike lee asks us to, if nothing else, pay attention to these things, and not hide from it. a movie like this that addresses racism so well makes a movie like "crash" that much more shameful in its triteness.


Blogger Rob said...

This is one of my favorite movies. It is carefully paced and intricately structured, full of revealing details. I love the three old dudes talking in front of that fire engine red wall, the scene where the white guy scuffs the black activist's sneaker, and I love Radio Raheem's pair of four-finger rings that say "LOVE" and "HATE."

7:08 PM  

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