40 must-watch movies to consider yourself a film buff

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Do the Right Thing (1989)

Controversy follows in the wake of Spike Lee, but none more so than with his 1989 drama Do the Right Thing. The film came about as part of a perfect storm of events regarding racism in America, a trigger that would only continue into the next decade.

Taking place on the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, the film follows pizza boy Mookie (Lee) as tension boils up between the African-American community and the Italian-Americans who live side-by-side. Soon, the heat is the last problem on their minds. The film is a powder keg of a feature that packs a ton of thoughts regarding the history of racial oppression into just two hours.

Lee’s writing is biting, harsh, yet emotionally resonant. Lee is the star, but Do the Right Thing is filled with impressive performances from the likes of Rosie Perez, Bill Nunn, and John Turturro. The requisite Lee takes are also on display, including an extended sequence of different ethnic groups commenting on other groups, spitting out epithets and stereotypes to show that racism extends beyond black and white. The film failed to secure any significant Oscar consideration, but it’s become a landmark feature in not just African-American cinema, but film as a whole.  

Where to Watch It: If you have Cinemax, you can stream it through their on-demand system. You can also rent it on Google Play, Vudu, Playstation, YouTube, and Apple.