If you haven't gone back and watched some of the classics of Cinema, I definitely suggest that you start in the past and work your way forward. If you don't go back and see the evolution of Cinema and see where the current films draw their inspiration from, you are doing yourself a disservice. I've been going back and re-watching a lot of classic films recently and normally they resonate and more often than not withstand the test of time. The most recent film that I have gone back and watched was one that is just as socially relevant today as it was in 1989.
Spike Lee created a classic film 27 years ago. In 1989, Spike Lee crafted his second feature film, Do The Right Thing, with the help of Cinematographer Ernest Dickerson. Spike Lee took only 2 weeks to write the screenplay set in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. The film's cast includes Samuel L. Jackson, Ruby Dee, Giancarlo Esposito, Bill Nunn, Martin Lawrence, and Rosie Perez. It centers around racial tensions on the hottest day of the summer. It hits on the racial issues that exist today between people of different races as well as with the police. Like him, or hate him, Spike Lee has always spoken his mind and has tried to tow the line between creating movies that are telling an important story and crafting something entertaining. At the end of the day, Spike Lee has proven time and time again that he can tell a story, and this is possibly his greatest work.
The film centers around Mookie, who is portrayed by Spike Lee himself, and 24 hours in his life and his neighborhood. The film takes a generally warm tone with bright colors that highlight the heat that everyone is living in and set to the sounds of Public Enemy's Fight the Power. You have many different personalities in the film from Radio Raheem to Sal to Buggin' Out. Each one plays an important part in weaving the tapestry of the neighborhood. The actions and beliefs of each person helps craft the tension and building the near exploding point of the neighborhood. The argument between Radio Raheem, Sal, and Buggin' Out is what eventually ignites the situation and causes a breaking point of everything.
With the continued rise in racial tensions today between the police and minorities, the film's climax is centered around another such incident. This was crafted in 1989, but if I told you that it was made this year, you would probably still believe that. It shows that we have come along as a society, but many of the same issues can be seen today.
Matthew Dessem, from the Criterion Contraption, took some time to dissect the thematic and camera work of the film.
Take a look at his breakdown over at his website: http://criterioncollection.blogspot.com/2010/03/97-do-right-thing.html
I've also included the trailer, behind the scenes, and a conversation with Spike Lee on the 20th anniversary of the film and its legacy.