A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Monday, September 28, 2015

Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)


All these years later, Lee's movie is still fresh and true, whereas the best picture Oscar winner for that year, Driving Miss Daisy (Bruce Beresford, 1989), has grown stale and false. It's not as though what happens in the movie can't happen anymore. Just today, it was reported that the execrable George Zimmerman had tweeted a photograph of the body of his victim, Trayvon Martin. And the bleating and yapping of the Republican presidential candidates can be heard stirring up animosity toward Muslims, gays, immigrants, food stamp recipients, Planned Parenthood, and anyone else they want to portray as the enemy. At least the Academy is going to give an honorary Oscar to Lee, after slighting him for this film and for the magnificent Malcolm X (1992). Lee was nominated for the screenplay for Do the Right Thing, losing to Tom Schulman for the maudlin Dead Poets Society (Peter Weir, 1989), and Danny Aiello received a supporting actor nod -- he lost to Denzel Washington for Glory (Edward Zwick, 1989). But where are the nominations for Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, or Giancarlo Esposito? Or for Ernest Dickerson's wonderful cinematography, Wynn Thomas's production design, or Barry Alexander Brown's editing? In fairness, Oscars aren't everything: Do the Right Thing has taken its rightful place in the National Film Registry; Driving Miss Daisy hasn't.