Film sometimes has a way of illuminating the best and worst in society.
Spike Lee’s classic 1989 film Do The Right Thing takes place on a simmering summer day in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant.
25 years before the start of the film, Sal (Danny Aiello) opened his pizza parlor. He is not shy about his heritage.
But the neighborhood around him has changed. His son, Pino (John Turturro) would prefer if the pizza parlor was located in another neighborhood a little closer to home. What once was an Italian-American community has changed, with many of the residents being African-American or Latino.
When one of the customers, Buggin’ Out (Giancarlo Esposito) requests a minor change to the pizzeria decor to reflect the area residents, what starts as a simple requests spirals out into violence and naked prejudice.
I am not normally a Spike Lee fan. But, I am a native New Yorker and I appreciate the honesty that Lee brings to the film as both director and screenwriter. It’s not easy to create a film that not only entertains, but also forces the audience to take a hard look at an issue that many of us would prefer not to face.
The film also reflects a change in not just Bed-Stuy (shortened from Bedford-Stuyvesant), but in all of New York City.
Do I recommend it? Yes.