Tag Archives: classic

A few reasons to come and see Do The Right Thing at the Hackney Picturehouse tonight (or tomorrow)

If you think you’ve seen a post very similar to this one in the recent past, it’s because you have. But the last time I checked, copying and pasting was not a crime.

As part of Picturehouse Cinemas’ ongoing American Masters strand, the lovely Hackney Picturehouse is running two late night screenings of Spike Lee’s classic Do The Right Thing, tonight (Aug 10) and tomorrow (Aug 11), start time 22:40. I’ll be popping down to introduce tonight’s screening.

In case you were undecided about whether or not to come along, here are some reasons to convince you to part with your cash.

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1. We’re screening it in 35mm

Back in the day, any time you went to a cinema you’d be seeing your film of choice on a celluloid print. However, in recent times, for reasons both economic and access-based, exhibitors have increasingly tended to show films digitally (Won’t go into detail here, but this is a good read). But the boat’s been pushed out to source a genuine 35mm print from Universal, so you can appreciate Ernest Dickerson’s stunning cinematography in all its glory.

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2. Style tips for what remains of our wondrous London summer

You need look no further for inspiration than Ruth E. Carter’s costumes for the film. Here’s a little excerpt from a piece I wrote about the film’s style for the great website Clothes on Film“Carter’s contribution is vital in three key areas: establishing a sense of place and adding depth to the characters, supporting the film’s themes, and contributing to a bold onscreen representation of blackness which, as suggested by Ed Guerrero, ‘challenges and erodes the skin-colour hierarchy of Hollywood’s classic optical hegemony'”. If that’s a bit academic, I’ll put it straight: the clothes are fucking cool.

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3. It’s not only Spike’s best film, but one of the best of the ’80s

Spike’s third film marked the flowering of a major, major talent. An epic cocktail of drama, comedy, style, music and politics, Do The Right Thing wowed audiences and critics alike, and proved the major catalyst in the black American cinema boom of the early 1990s (think Boyz N The HoodMenace II SocietyJuiceFresh, Spike’s subsequent joints). Watch it now and you’ll be stunned by how it doesn’t seem to have dated at all (save for the occasional haircut). It’s also difficult to think of another film with so many amazing, unforgettable characters: Radio Raheem, Da Mayor, Mookie, Senor Love Daddy, Pino, Sweet Dick Willie, Tina, the list goes on. What’s more, Lee’s new film Red Hook Summer (out now in the USA, UK release TBC) sees the director return to Brooklyn for a pseudo-sequel – Mookie’s even rumoured to have a small cameo. This is a great chance to prepare yourself.

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4. Because… well, because FIGHT THE POWER, innit?

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Hop on down to the Hackney Picturehouse and buy tickets on the door. Map here.

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Permanent Plastic Helmet presents Do The Right Thing | Update – here’s the poster!

We’re starting to get very excited about our special summer screening of Spike Lee’s classic joint Do The Right Thing at South London’s lovely Clapham Picturehouse cinema on Thursday 5 July. You can book tickets by following this link.

If you’re on Facebook, you can also use our event page to tell us you’re coming. Spread the word!

Here’s a running order:

7.30 Join us in the bar for drinks, soundtracked by classic 80s hip-hop and soul

8.45 Intro and prize giveaway

9.00 Do The Right Thing starts

And here is the beautiful poster, designed by the outrageously talented Piccia Neri.

See you on the 5th.

The Bad and the Beautiful

Vincente Minnelli’s 1952 film The Bad and the Beautiful, now showing on extended run at London’s BFI Southbank, paints a thoroughly entertaining portrait of classic Hollywood. Through a series of deft flashbacks, it chronicles of the rise and fall of an arrogant producer, Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas), from the perspectives of those he stepped on to achieve his ambitions. The film centres around a last-ditch effort from Shields to convince three of his old colleagues-turned-enemies to work on his comeback project: director Fred Amiel (Barry Sullivan), actress Georgia Lorrison (Lana Turner), and writer James Lee Bartlow (Dick Powell). But what did he do to each of them to make them so angry with him? That dramatic tension hooks you in and compels you to judge for yourself whether Shields deserves help with his comeback film or not.

The story that unfolds offers a compelling, humane look at the personal lives of a range of Hollywood players during an era that preceded the invasive media scrutiny that dominates the film industry today. Kirk Douglas is brilliant as the near-mythical protagonist; this egotistical producer is not one we’re meant to feel sympathy for, but Douglas’ earnest performance reminds us that with ambition comes risk and vulnerability. It’s Shields’ ardor and addiction to filmmaking that links the three cleverly rendered flashbacks. Of the trio Shields aims to convince, Lana Turner – providing a pleasant reminder that she was more than just a pretty face – is the most captivating as the disarming Georgia. But even the minor characters are surprisingly delightful, particularly Bartlow’s wife, a scene-stealing Southern belle played by Gloria Grahame (a turn for which she won a deserved Academy Award).

The nuanced characterizations of the quirky cast are thoughtful and thorough, from their distinctive deliveries of voiceovers to their attachments to totemic props (such as Georgia’s necklace) which are often cleverly utilized for clear and logical transitions between scenes. This, combined with brisk edits, helps the film move with good momentum, accompanied by tasteful, romantic scoring. And the sumptuously detailed sets, dramatically lit, complete the dream-like atmosphere that befits classic Hollywood. The Bad and the Beautiful won five Academy Awards by practicing what it preaches; throughout the film, the protagonist aims for quality over quantity, for awards over commercial success.

That said, The Bad and the Beautiful isn’t quite a love letter to Hollywood. Rather, it presents a place where dreams begin and then are painfully reshaped. It has a refreshingly uncynical view of the industry, unafraid to be a touch moralistic in espousing self-reliance, while managing to retain a wry sense of humour about its commentary, never allowing itself to get too serious or self-congratulatory. It’s such a pleasure to see a film that respects its audience, is thoughtfully constructed, and isn’t a downer – a rare combination in Hollywood nowadays.

You have seen it. But watch it again. (A handbag?)

Here is Edith Evans in The Importance of Being Earnest, stretching two syllables into at least six. This four-second clip represents the absolute zenith of upper-class British disapproval which was almost, but not quite, matched on Royal Wedding day by furious child Grace van Cutsem (who totally stole the show).

"When are you going to write a proper film review?"

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