Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Films of Shame: Citizen Kane

E1BF47AA-8B27-429A-9B34-1C51BD17AC60.jpgThere was a man, a certain man...

Films of Shame
Citizen Kane
Mortal Pain
Breathes a name?
Lots of claims
Citizen Kane

Not all of my Films of Shame will start with a plot synopsis in the form of a poem, but the above nicely sums up the story of Citizen Kane: in which the title character dies and his last word is rosebud. Reporters speak to lots of people from his life in the hope of finding out what the word means and hence gaining some insight into one of the most famous men of their generation.

The film was written, directed by and stars a 26 year-old Orson Welles. And the youthful energy and audacity of Welles comes across in every frame of the film. I knew how ground-breaking the movie was supposed to be at the time, and was interested to see if that would still hold true to someone watching the film almost 70 years later.

For example, I was listening to a podcaster describe Hitchcock's 39 Steps, and how every chase/action scene felt cliched since they had been copied by some many directors since. This, despite the fact, it would have been 100% original and innovative at the time.

3D2E5D3A-6225-42A2-8309-B4914B50F90E.jpgHowever, in the case of Citizen Kane, the movie still feels surprisingly fresh and full of vitality now. This is despite the fact a lot of movies by a lot of directors who will have been profoundly influenced by this piece.

Two things stand out in particular. The first is the way each scene is framed. Through out the movie, you will have Kane in the centre of the screen, in the background, in focus, as two or more characters discuss him in the foreground, also in focus. This deep focus is used in pretty much every scene in the movie, and gives you the sense that both Kane and the accounts about him are equally significant.

Secondly, the narrative structure was also ground-breaking at the time. It starts out with a newsreel, giving the audience a ten minute factual account of Kane's life. We then cut to a room where journalists are watching the reel and criticising it: saying it doesn't get under the skin of Kane. So the rest of the film is told in the form of flashbacks of the people Kane was close to. Since they're based on subjective accounts, we only ever see Kane from someone else's point of view, and are never quite sure how accurate a picture we are getting.

Overall, Citizen Kane is a movie anyone with at least a passing interest in film should see. It has a complexity and depth that few films have managed to emulate since. For a classic to be described as such, its story, as oppose to its cinematic techniques, must stand the test of time. Most of all Citizen Kane succeeds in this regard, as the movie forces us to question who we are at our core, and what is most important to us. What is our rosebud?

E09AED10-FB0E-4AD1-B896-A7B4A20C2BD2.jpgPerhaps the movie itself better sums up the plot than my attempt at poetry earlier, since they sing all about Kane about half-way through the film. Fans of the White Stripes may recognise the lyrics from the song "The Union Forever":

There is a man - a certain man
And for the poor you may be sure
That he'll do all he can!
Who is this one?
This fav'rite son?
Just by his action
Has the Traction magnates on the run?
Who loves to smoke?
Enjoys a joke?
Who wouldn't get a bit upset
If he were really broke?
With wealth and fame
He's still the same
I'll bet you five you're not alive
If you don't know his name
What is his name?...
It's Charlie Kane.
It's Mister Kane.
He doesn't like that Mister
He likes good old Charlie Kane.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Scott Pilgrim Trailer: Frame by Frame Analysis

Regular readers of this blog will know how much I'm looking forward to the Scott Pilgrim movie - it was my top pick in my Top 5 Most Anticipated Movies of 2010.

So imagine my excitement on Thursday, when its director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) tweeted a link to the teaser trailer. I've embedded said trailer here for you in all its high-def glory:

If you're a fan of the comic, or were in any way impressed with the trailer, the following is also worth a look. It's a frame-by-frame analysis that explains a few more of the plot details and characters in the kind of awesome detail I could only dream of doing:

Anyway, colour me excited. I'd strongly advise reading the comics before you see the film, since the series is one of the most enjoyable and engaging stories I've read in a while: full of humour, geeky references and even a few tears. I've included the first four pages of volume 1 below to give you a wee taster. If you like what you see, why not buy it at amazon now?

If you're having trouble reading the images below, just right click and go to 'View Image' to see a nice big, readable version.

"Scott Pilgrim is dating a high-schooler?!"



Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Top 5 Kick Ass Kids


The idea of kids beating up adults is hardly new. One can trace it back through time to when a certain Israeli boy, with ideas well above his station, decided to take on the might of a Philistine giant. After whacking him on the head using a Dennis-the-Menace-style sling shot, he then goes all R-Rated by decapitating him.

Given the long history of these type of stories, it's hardly surprising to see so many depictions in today's culture. This week, for example, sees the controversial release of Kick Ass, a movie which features a 12-year old swearing like a trooper as she slices dices and shoots her way past foes in a manner Tarantino's Bride would be proud of.

In honour of this new edition to the world of violent child protagonists, I've compiled my Top Five. Feel free to embarrass me with obvious omissions.

5. Karate Kid
Violence won't solve all your problems, but it will get you the respect of your peers; allow you to beat up your worst enemy; and win over the girl. Contained within the seemingly innocent world of Karate Kid was surely a much darker message about diplomacy versus action. Thankfully, another generation is going to receive this important message in the upcoming remake starring Jackie Chan.

4. Battle Royale
Surely the violent kids movie to end all violent kids movies. With the hope of reducing overpopulated Japan, teenagers are stuck on an island together in some warped, literal version of Survivor. The rules are you get one weapon (which range from axes to saucepan lids), and if there's more than one person alive after 72 hours, everyone dies. A movie that could surely only have ever been made in Japan, it's like Lord of the Flies with machine guns.

3. Peter Pan
Poor Captain Hook. Imagine being on an island with tweens and teens, who were not only going through adolescence, but had the indecency to remain in that state forever. No wonder he went mad and started chasing crocodiles. Also, what self-respecting adult would let children fly with swords in their hands? Health and Safety anyone?

2. Home Alone
So robbers are about to break into your house. You know the time, you know what they look like. But rather than merely contact the police, you decide to enact some crazy mouse-trap like scheme involving tar, heated door knobs and paint tins. Clearly those black and white gangster movies have had some kind of crazed psychotic effect on your brain. Then again, being forgotten twice by your parents in the space of a year is bound to have deep-rooted psychological implications.

1. Let The Right One In
Like Karate Kid, this features a boy getting bullied. Only, instead of Mr. Mayagi, he gets the girl next door to help him out. Only thing is, the girl next door is a vampire - A vampire who can scale buildings like spiderman. Her ability to inflict pain on her adversaries makes Kick Ass' Hit Girl look like Malibu Stacy.


Sunday, 21 March 2010

Film School: Vagabond

930938DB-EAB1-45BA-B572-311A85BBF434.jpgIn 2007 Sean Penn directed Into The Wild, a true life tale about a young man who wants to escape the clutches of modern capitalism by never staying in one place for any marked length of time. The pinnacle of this way of living is to go off into the wild of Alaska by himself for an indefinite period.

Way before that, in 1985, French director, Agnes Varda, made Vagabond, or to give it its French title Sans toit ni loi, which translated literally means "Without Roof or Rule". Like Into The Wild it's about a young woman, Mona, who lives on the road and has no place to call her own. Relying instead on the kindness of others to survive.

A fictional tale, the main thing that separates it from Into The Wild is that the lead character has none of the lust for life that Penn's movie does. Where as Hirsch's character is able to bring a lot of warmth and encouragement to the people he comes across, Mona seems like much too broken a character to be able to do the same thing, and will sometimes greet kindness with a special kind of apathy.

In fact, the true nature of her character is at the centre of the film. Characters address the camera, at various points in the story, expressing their experiences with her, and opinion on her. All differ wildly. What they do have in common in that they reflect something of their own prejudices and outlook.

72BD39A4-4029-4B14-81F7-0888F20703E0.jpgThese differing perspectives give the movie an added dimension, as we the audience are invited to piece together who Mona really was, and whether she was a victim of circumstance or a master of her own fate.

Overall, there's a lot to like in this film. The faux-documentary style, the ambiguous nature of the main character, and the way people's opinions reveal more about themselves than about the person they're describing all make this film very easy to recommend.

I started this series based on titles I was studying at an evening course at Edinburgh University. Vagabond marks the end of the course, and so the end of the series. If you've missed any of the Film School articles, just click here.

My next series will be "Films of Shame". That is films, I really should have seen by now, but haven't.

The first five will be:

1. Citizen Kane
2. Godfather Part 2
3. The Shining
4. Taxi Driver
5. Annie Hall

I'd be interested to know other people's "Films of Shame". Have you never seen "Star Wars", "Schindler's List" or "The Wizard of Oz"? Do you have to pretend to know what's so special about Bruce Willis' watch in Pulp Fiction? Or do you sometimes intersperse conversations about Lord of the Rings, with "My Precioussssss" in the hope no one will find out your guilty secret?

Confessions welcome below:

Friday, 19 March 2010

Film School: Chungking Express

96CE24E6-26D1-46EC-87CD-DE7DFAA4BD50.jpgOne of the most influential movie of the 90s was Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. Combining style, instantly quotable dialogue, and a non-linear, multi-threaded narrative it became an instant classic when it was released in 1994. Watching it back now, it still feels like a very recent, modern film.

Released the same year was the much less famous Chungking Express. Like Tarantino's movie it features a multi-thread narrative, and is incredibly stylish. It also features the same kind of film references Tarantino has become famous for. As such, it isn't at all surprising that this is one of the American director's favourite movies of all time.

It features two almost entirely separate stories, linked by a takeaway restaurant called Midnight Express. The two narratives are both based around cops trying to get over recently failed relationships. However, the women they are interested in couldn't be more different. One is a drug dealer who has just been double crossed by a male associate. The other fits the description of Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

A Manic Pixie Dream Girl (or MPDG for short), for those of you who don't know is the term given to women who fly in and out of a character's life, teaching a normally uptight male lead, to relax and enjoy life more. Other examples include Natalie Portman in Garden State, Maggie Gyllenhaal in Stranger Than Fiction, and Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown, which is where the term, incidentally stems from.

CB2FF5EE-162F-4109-8548-20D8D8B1347A.jpgThe MPDG in this case is Faye, who dances around to California Dreamin'; breaks into the male lead's apartment so she can clean it and rearrange furniture; and glides across our screens with few concerns beyond making sure the music is loud enough so she can't think.

The success of the movie depends upon whether you find all of this charming or deeply grating. The chances are if you've ever fallen for (or had a girl-crush on) Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel or Maggie Gyllenhaal in any film you'll probably fall for Faye.

Beyond the narrative of the movie, the cinematography on offer is a joy to behold. Mixing fast action, depictions of claustrophobic living and a beautiful mix of yellows, blacks and deep reds that get under the skin of Hong Kong living.

Overall, this movie is very worthwhile, and appears to say a lot through very little. The more I've reflected on it, the more I've come to appreciate all the different layers it has. Like that movie of Tarantino's it's dated very well, and still feels incredibly relevant and ground-breaking 16 years on.


Sunday, 14 March 2010

What I've Been Listening To: Podcasts

Regular readers of this blog will know I've been trying to do a monthly What I've Been Watching: Television section, but rather than merely reviewing season 2 of Being Human on its own, I'm gonna hold out until next month when I'll have finished Mad Men season 3, and Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles season 2 and review them all at once.

35AFD20D-8634-4BAE-AFDB-C5184A49E873.jpgSo instead, I've decided to introduce you to some of the podcasts I listen to. Being a fairly new medium, it's interesting that podcasts have, in the main, filled a gap television hasn't adequately covered. Providing listeners with both in-depth reviews of films/television/video games, etc; as well as the ever-popular genre of a group of guys talking rubbish in a mildly entertaining way (i.e. The Ricky Gervais Podcast, Adam & Joe, etc.)

It's also interesting to me that they are as good a representation as any of the way we now consume media in the digital age. In the days before the internet there were only a few critics, and they all worked for major newspapers and television channels. Now there are literally millions of people who tweet, blog and podcast their opinions on the latest releases.

Podcasts represent the fact people can now pick and choose whose opinion they listen to, as well as where and when they listen to it. I, for one, have taken full advantage of this development, and believe the conversations I'm able to have about films, television, and so on has been enriched by hearing like-minded people talk about their chosen subject in a similar manner.

DE0C3D06-F70D-49CB-BC52-7A5D7120FD94.jpgThe Totally Rad Show
Hosts: Fanboys
Length: 1 Hour

A video podcast which, in the main, sees 3 self-confessed geeks reviewing the latest movie and video game releases. This show is a celebration of geek culture, and is as good a representation as any of what that lifestyle is all about: Debates, excitement, and unwavering devotion to their favourite films, characters and series.

Like Top Gear the enjoyment comes as much from the relationships between the hosts and love for what they're talking about, as it does the actual content of the show. As well as reviews, we'll also see the hosts try out things from their youth, like laser tag; lego; and scalectrix. In the same way the show of Clarkson, May and Hammond is a celebration of fast, noisy, gas guzzlers; so The Totally Rad Show is a celebration of all things geek: a show for people who have grown up playing as a plumber and a hedgehog, knowing the difference between a Romulan and a Vulcan, and knowing never, ever to cross the streams.

Hosts: Fanboys
Length: 1 Hour 30 Min

The format's fairly simple: three presenters plus a guest (normally a film actor/director/reviewer) talk about what they've been watching, this week's film news, and then a lengthy review of one of the latest releases.

Clocking in at around 90 minutes, this is a podcast I normally leave on in the background and tune in and out of depending on what they're talking about. Its strengths lie when talking about news, trends, and the fan's experience of watching films. The reviews are normally well presented: the format of four people with different opinions allowing for plenty of debate around the merits or otherwise of a film.

There's also an 'AfterDark Show' which doesn't really have a format beyond the hosts and their guests talking about movie-related stuff. It's lack of structure means this can be a little hit-and-miss, and very much depends on the topic they're talking about that week. Examples of discussions include the dying art of film criticism, how to deal with annoying people in the cinema or comparing the US and UK versions of The Office

Overall, this is great podcast for fans of film, who enjoy the debates and discussions around film, the joy of discovering a low-budget classic or dissecting the latest trailer to an inch of its life. If you take part in these types of discussions on a regular basis, I'm sure this is show that you'd greatly enjoy.

C6A43330-58F3-4325-AA3F-537B98AD5496.jpgMark Kermode & Simon Mayo's Film Reviews
Hosts: Academic & EveryMan
Length: 1 Hour 30 Min.

The film podcast that got me into film podcasts. Surely the format that this show was made for. Such is its popularity, it's now been moved from 1 hours to 2 on the radio. When moving to Radio 2, Simon Mayo explicitly asked to keep this slot on Five Live on a Friday, showing us the importance the show obviously has to him, and the nature of his relationship with his fellow-host Mark Kermode.

The reason it works so well, as Kermode points on in his autobiography It's Only a Movie, is because of this special relationship. The infamous Kermodian rants work so well because of the blasé nature of his fellow host. Mayo's ability to hold his fellow host to account allows us to laugh with the manner in which Kermode actively despises Pirates 3, Ice Age 2, or Bride Wars.

It's perhaps the unique nature of these rants that makes the show so compelling. Where most critics would merely dismiss such crimes against cinema, our valiant critic makes it clear how unacceptable these films are. This passion gives the podcast its weight and enjoyment: having a critic who actually cares about seeing films which are worthwhile.

5EA0A39E-AC67-45B9-BBD8-19C7B9ED14E0.jpgTobolowsky Files
Hosts: Actor & Film Reviewer
Length: 45 Min.

Hosted by Stephen Tobolowsky, a character actor from films/t.v. shows like Memento, Groundhog Day, Heroes and Glee, this podcasts is unlike any of the others. Each episode can be thought of as a chapter from the actor's autobiography, as he details his experiences from the sets of Deadwood, Wild Hogs, Mississippi Burning, and so on.

As well as an insight into what an actor's life is actually like, we also get to hear about his experiences from his early career. Stories like sharing a table at a cabaret bar in Paris with a man with a bloody nose sneezing uncontrollably. Or the time his apartment got infested with flees, and as a result he had to drive naked to his mother's house at the other side of town.

A nice mix of humour and poignancy, it gives the actor a chance to reflect on important moments from his own life, and how the strangest of events can influence our lives.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Film School: McCabe and Mrs Miller

66AE1651-012E-4114-963B-EE584924E40B.jpgThe western is a genre known for the unwavering codes and morals of their protagonists. Heroes will do anything to defend their town from the tyranny of an outsider. Law, order, and honour are all at the heart of the society they inhabit, and nothing will force them to reconsider this strict ethical code.

McCabe and Mrs Miller has certainly got the setting of a Western: a new frontier town which has quickly expanded and is still finding its feet when a stranger (McCabe) comes in and changes everything. However, he's not like the heroes of traditional westerns: he's a gambler- an opportunist, who sees a way of making a life for himself in this new town.

Part of the deal involves giving the townspeople (exclusively men) what they want (women): so he sets up three tents for some ladies of the night to service the males of the town. Mrs Miller, an inhabitant of a nearby settlement, hears about this, and convinces McCabe to expand this part of his empire, and so they become business partners in the town of Presbyterian Church.

The movie has a very 'modern' feeling to it. The way the central character is neither good nor evil, neither heroic nor especially cowardly and neither especially able or a complete wash-out allows the film to continue to have relevance to audiences today. In a way other movies of the Western genre, while enjoyable as entertainment, fall short on social commentary/relevance.

06B913B2-9A87-49E8-A9A7-1695C8729A67.jpgIn particular, its critique of capitalism (around half way through the movie, McCable is confronted with a 'hostile takeover' - literally) would certainly ring true with the fans of The Wire. As success brings him to the attention of outside forces who make him an offer he can't refuse.

Perhaps its only weakness is that its 'radical' take on prostitution feels so idealistic in comparison to the more sobering themes of the rest of the film. Once it's taken over by Mrs. Miller, the whore house is presented more like a sorority house: with the women empowered by their ability to bring pleasure to the men of the town. They giggle, they chuckle, they dance, they eat cake. This is very much a film of the free love generation. Compare it to other depictions of prostitution in Slow Motion or Requiem for a Dream where clients pay for a service and can essentially demand anything in return, and you can't help but wonder if the director has really thought this scenario through.

So overall, McCabe and Mrs. Miller is a very enjoyable and watchable movie with a central character that's incredibly engaging and beautifully ambiguous. A Western then, for people who hate Westerns, an old movie for a modern audience.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

What I've Been Watching: Cinema

Directed by Clint Eastwood, Invictus in the story of South Africa's road to winning the Rugby World Cup in 1995. At its centre is the relationship between Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), the captain of the Springboks, and Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman).

In many ways the film feels like a normal sports movie. The team in question is in serious trouble at the start of the movie, getting slaughtered by England at home, months before the tournament. Then, as the movie progresses, and after Mandela's interest in the sport increases, the team gets better: standing a real chance of winning the tournament.

However, the story's focus is not on the team or their relationships with one another, rather it's on the people of South Africa and their support/hatred of the Springboks. In that sense it has more in common with Fever Pitch than your average sports movie: looking at the real impact sport has on people's lives.

So the picture we get of Nelson Mandela here, is essentially the one he chooses to show to Pienaar. We do get occasional glimpses of his strained relationship with his family, but essentially we're shown the same Mandela as we normally get on television: charming, inspirational and dignified.

67D36CF8-CF02-466B-B786-6B0A0212D119.jpgThe movie's success, and arguably its failure, is that it does well at reminding the viewer how remarkable the story of the '95 World Cup was. When politics and sport somehow combined successfully to give South Africa a moment that will probably stay with that generation for the rest of the lives. The picture of Mandela and Pienaar standing on the podium together is probably the most significant image for the country since the end of apartheid.

I say failure, because I think the story's so remarkable and well documented it doesn't really need a movie made about it: a movie which, by virtue of its medium, makes the events seem less real than they are. It's my opinion that a documentary would have served the story a lot better, and I'm sure Mandela and Pienaar would have only too happy to oblige. If you need proof of this, watch the documentary When We Were Kings, followed by Will Smith's portrayal in Ali, and tell me which you think told you the story of the boxer's remarkable career and personality better? Also think about what your reaction would be if Man On Wire was to be made into a Hollywood Blockbuster starring, say, Tom Cruise? Not everything needs to be reshot, re-imagined and redone. Sometimes it's best just to show people footage and let them discover an exceptional event for themselves.

5F146744-D1F8-4B22-A746-CFAD64ED1E10.jpgA Single Man
The film for which Colin Firth won a BAFTA, A Single Man centres on someone who's recently lost his boyfriend in a car accident. Firth tries his best to cope with the bereavement when no one recognises the love he shared with his partner. The views of the society he inhabits best surmised by Julianne Moore's character, who describes it as "not a real relationship"

The first film by fashion designer turned director, Tom Ford, the film oozes style from every frame. Like it's main character, each scene has a beauty and attention to detail that's incredibly appealing and means you can on occasion let your eyes and mind be distracted from the heavy subject matter of the narrative.

The film's main success is in its portrayal of bereavement: Firth is scared of everything in his life having lost the man he loved. For him a day survived is a day well spent; every time he leaves the door is a triumph. He seems happy to live his life ignored by those around him, avoiding human contact as much as possible. His memories both comfort and haunt him, and we as an audience are left trying to reach out to someone who may not want rescuing.

A9EEC976-5D71-4C76-8B47-48CBBD4CD11A.jpgI also feel the narrative balanced subtly and clarity beautifully, to bring the audience into Firth's world, without necessarily showing you everything he was thinking and feeling. Like the TV series Mad Men (with whom the film shares a production designer), characters do and say surprising things without us feeling they're acting 'out of character': a juggling act which few films or T.V. shows are able to pull off.

A Single Man then, is a character piece which succeeds on many levels: in portraying a culture, character and period in a very stylish and telling way. A remarkable debut piece from a director whose work I greatly anticipate in the future.

Crazy Heart
50B8D03D-3F4E-4B3C-BEF5-FBA434F2AEF3.jpgThe film which gave Jeff Bridges the oscar The Big Lebowski should have done. Crazy Heart has been rightly compared to the Wrestler: portraying an ageing artist trying to make a living past his prime. Along the way he's supported by a younger woman, (in this case Maggie Gyllenhaal) who encourages him to make contact with his grown-up child.

The main difference between this and Aronofsky's film is the country music, provided by T-Bone Burnett. Bridges performances of these songs allows Bridges' character, Bad Blake, to tell of his woes, troubles and sins in a manner befitting of the genre. The other difference is, it's nowhere near as good.

The problem comes, not from the performances, which are all fantastic, but rather from the central plot which lacks the emotional depth of a film like The Wrestler, or the instant gratification of another similar film, Walk the Line. Instead, we're left with a character we don't feel like we know that well, and are not really given a reason to care that much about. What made him remarkable in his prime? Why is his story worth telling?

81CFC9CF-92EC-45F6-8AD2-77C6BF8F0F4C.jpgInstead, we go through the motions of a journey where he learns a lot about himself through others, and ends up a better person because he was able to face up to his past. A story so old, you imagine cavemen would even have called Crazy Heart cliched.

My only defence for this movie is that as someone who is not a natural fan of country and western, I could see how someone who did enjoy the genre may allow themselves to be swallowed up in the emotion of the music. I know films like Walk the Line, Ray, and even Once all beautifully pace themselves with songs that allow the story to move from one place to the next. Given that those bits in this film were the least engaging for me, perhaps my enjoyment of the movie was tarnished as a result.

In essence, unless you're a truck-driving, beer-guzzling, flannel-shirt wearing, odour-ridden middle aged man called Earl, give it a miss.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Film School: Do The Right Thing

Spike Lee's tale about inner-city New York has become a cornerstone of Black Cinema. Set in the mainly African-American community of Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn, it's the hottest day of the year and racial tensions are running high.

The film's main character is Mookie, played by Lee, who works for a family of Italian-Americans. As tensions heat-up, he has to make the decision whether to side with his employers or the rest of his community. The film fits squarely into the category of Titles That Are Also Lines In The Movie* (cf. Law Abiding Citizen, You've Got Mail and Home Alone . In this case Mookie is told by "The Mayor" to do the right thing.

Very much an ensemble piece, Lee's aim is clearly to get under the skin of the community it depicts. Taking time to set-up all the characters and their motivations, it shows the differing ways people react to cultures separate from their own.

Lee's film is very much of its time. The way characters dress, speak and love their Nike trainers all screams the 1980s. This also applies to the racial issues it depicts. Middle-aged black men talk scold at the Koreans who have moved in and quickly set-up a successful business, while questioning their own inability to do so. Mookie, while speaking to an Italian American, boldly claims blacks will once again rule the world, designed more to rile his counterpart, than prove a point.

Of course, we now live in a time when the most important man in the world is black. And where there are plenty of African-Americans who've been successful in fields outside of sport and music. We also live in a time where the kind of riots and police beatings that existed 20+ years ago are no longer as prevalent. What then, does a movie such as Do The Right Thing? have to say to a modern audience?

The honest answer is not a lot. Although significant at the time, not only for its depiction of black culture, but also as a cornerstone of black cinema, the film feels very dated now. Some films of their time still work very well, since the issues they depict can be fairly universal or perhaps they capture something about a period which is important or significant. In particular films like Wall Street, Trainspotting or American Beauty still hold up because of, rather than despite, their depiction of the era in which they were made.

If it does have any significance, it is surely historical. In bringing to light the kind of issues people had never seen in film before it was viewed as being very controversial. Many critics of significant clout argued that it might insight African-Americans to riot. Lee was incredibly dismissive of such suggestions, pointing out, quite rightly, that black people were just as capable of controlling their emotions and resisting the urge to riot as their lighter-skinned counterparts.

Perhaps such attitudes show why Do The Right Thing should be given some credit for allowing these issues to come to light. Its significance goes beyond its content, to what it represented to people at the time: a further platform for a voice which felt belittled and marginalised by a society full of fear and suspicion.

*Wanna see other films which use their titles as lines of dialogue? No problemo!