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Do the Right Thing

Opens on August 20

Director: Spike Lee Run Time: 120 min. Release Year: 1989

Starring: Danny Aiello, Giancarlo Esposito, Ossie Davis, Richard Edson, Ruby Dee

Although restricted to the immediate environs of a multicultural community living and working in and around a brownstone block in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn (where Lee himself grew up), the film anatomizes a whole cross-section of US society, and clinically demonstrates the mechanism by which a seemingly trivial dispute (in this case, over the choice of sportsmen displayed by the local pizzeria) can escalate into a full-blown race riot given the presence of aggravating factors such as the searing heat of both the weather and assorted tempers. But this is no one-sided polemic: Lee’s characters (not least his own character Mookie) are all too recognizably human in their foibles and frailties.

In 1952, the Sight and Sound team had the novel idea of asking critics to name the greatest films of all time. The tradition became decennial, increasing in size and prestige as the decades passed. The Sight and Sound poll is now a major bellwether of critical opinion on cinema and this year’s edition (its eighth) is the largest ever, with 1,639 participating critics, programmers, curators, archivists and academics each submitting their top ten ballot.

Sight & Sound (2022) – #24

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