Do the Right Thing (1989)
Spike Lee's study of urban racial tensions stirred controversy when it was first released. Did he intend to advocate violence or merely record it as so many have experienced it? At the end of this film powerful quotations from Martin Luther King and Malcolm X support either view. Set in the sultry summer of inner city Brooklyn, nearly every scene in this film crackles with tension. The black neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyevesant is patrolled by white cops, and commercialized by an Italian family pizzeria that has been a mainstay for twenty-five years, and an upstart Korean grocery store. The racial tensions simmer just as much within the black community; there is only derision for a plan to boycott the pizzeria, Da Mayor is part village idiot and part wise elder, and even Mookie (Spike Lee) is caught betweeen allegiance to his black community and his Italian employer. Doing the right thing is sometimes hard not only to do but even to know.