(For those who came in late: I’m comparing the American Film Institute’s (“The Scholar’s”) Top 100 films against the Internet Movie Database’s (“The Masses’”) Top 100 films)
If you had asked me a few days ago which of these movies I would choose as this week’s winner, I would’ve told you The Sting, even though I hadn’t even seen it. I had seen Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing and knew I didn’t like it.
Let me start with The Sting. I thought it was great. It is just the type of film I like for a nice, relaxing evening with my DVD player: entertaining, well-acted, a few twists to keep you on your toes. Nothing that requires deep thought. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Who doesn’t love a young Robert Redford and Paul Newman?
Now: Do The Right Thing. I saw it back in the early 90s. In all the brilliance of my 19-year-old self, attending a primarily white college in a primarily white portion of North Carolina, with all my first-world country, white-girl problems, I wrote the film off as being dated and irrelevant to anything happening outside of Brooklyn, NY.
As a matter of fact, if you had asked me to describe Do the Right Thing before I re-watched it yesterday, I would’ve said it starred Flavor Flav and was about how all white people were bad.
I was wrong.
Yes, the movie has giant boomboxes and huge jewelry and really bright clothing (although no Flavor Flav). And yes, the movie is about racial tension.
But no, the movie is NOT about black people being right and white people being wrong. The movie is about doing the right thing, but how knowing what is the right thing, is rarely clear.
(As another of my many asides, the most striking part of Do the Right Thing for me personally was the Korean family attempting to persuade the mob that they were “black too” and how the mob finally agrees. As a mother with two Asian children, I wonder what racial groupings my kids will identify with most when they get older, or if they will learn to use racial groupings to their advantage in different situations as the Korean family did in the film…)
So although I wouldn’t say I really enjoyed Do the Right Thing I can definitely say I am glad I watched it again. This film epitomizes why I am going through these movie lists: to force myself to view great films that I would never otherwise watch because I think Flavor Flav is in them.
This week’s winner, because it made me think is Do the Right Thing. Hmmm… I think AFI is now officially pulling ahead.
AFI’s Top 100
IMDB’s Top 100 (as of 1/1/12)
Do The Right Thing (1989)
The Sting (1973)
Blade Runner (1982)
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Toy Story (1995)
Ben Hur (1959)
The Elephant Man (1980)
Next week: The Last Picture Show (1971) vs. the German Expressionist classic Metropolis (1927). I’m not familiar with The Last Picture Show at all and have never seen Metropolis in its entirety, so should be interesting.