DO THE RIGHT THING (1989)– It is not till rewatching DO THE RIGHT THING after any period of time, that you understand just how strong a film, not only that it was for its time, but it remains. While Lee’s 2nd film (after SHE’S GOT TO HAVE IT, which was his first feature length. JOE’S BED-STUY BARBERSHOP iS CLOSER TO A VERY LONG SHORT THAN A FEATURE FILM ), DO THE RIGHT THING does not feel like a 2nd film.
DO THE RIGHT THING feels like what it is, not a 2nd film, not a follow-up, but the only film. A fixed point in time, a galvanizing screed against the moment, all moments. it really is a filmmaker who has fully found his voice and vision and audacity, and all of that is in display in that opening title sequence; with the astonishing introduction of Rosie Perez, over stylized lighting and backdrops, and her thrusting and gyrating, which is as much about war as it is sex. All done to the strains of the, at the time, most ground breaking and political band of the day, PUBLIC ENEMY.
It is nice to have this film on the Criterion roster in a truly gorgeous semi digi-book packaging with scintillating, vibrant art and accompanying book. However, the Blu-ray (released on the 30th anniversary of the film) while stellar in packaging feels underwhelming in actual special features.
That is until you look at the SECOND Disc, which is chock full of additional interviews and features done just for this release. Highlights being TWENTY YEARS LATER (absolutely a must watch), and THE ONE AND ONLY DO THE RIGHT THING.
Which makes this film not just great to have on Blu-ray, but great to have it accompanied by current reflections on the film.
Here, well into the 21st century, streaming has quickly made itself King. However what physical media offers is 1/sumptuous content, mastered in pristine quality, that will not change due to bandwidth throttling, or ISP load caused bit-rate fluctuations, or political games, or the screeching of the uninformed mob and 2/extensive special features that show a love and concern for the central film.
This Criterion release succeeds in both those broad areas. And in this release competes with other labels, including stellar non-us labels, that are stepping up their game and giving us simply jam-packed releases with often multiple new commentaries and special features.
Final Grade: While I still miss an up to date commentary done for this release, on the whole — Criterion continues to make a physical object that cries out for a place on better bookshelves and display cases everywhere. A+ for the film. B+ for the Criterion release.