Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.
1989: Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee)
Lee’s an interesting director. So much energy and pretty damn prolific. I can’t say I love every one of his films, but there’s a passion that comes through in his work that’s pretty infectious.
He’s versatile, a major risk taker and someone who can do comedy just as well as drama. And when it comes to blending genres, he’s about as fearless as they come.
Do the Right Thing is one of my favorite of all his films. The way it juxtaposes comedy and drama is as powerful as it is unsettling. In other words, the drama hits hard, and the comedy is laugh out loud funny. There’s a real verve to the music, to the style, to the writing and to the colors. It has heart, and while it gets at a few issues, it also entertains. And Rosie Perez dancing to Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” is one of the most iconic moments in the history of American independent cinema.
A fun and powerful work from Spike Lee.
What moviemakers can learn: Humor and independent cinema are great bedfellows. The Coen brothers know it, as does Tarantino and, of course, Lee. The nice thing about humor is it allows our great moviemakers to be confrontational, daring, even dark, but all in a way that is still mostly palatable.
Other contenders for 1989: I still have some titles to see from this year, including Hou Hsiao-hsien’s A City of Sadness, Abbas Kiarostami’s Homework, Jane Campion’s Sweetie and Jacques Rivette’s Gang of Four. From this year, I really like Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train. I love Nanni Moretti’s Palombella rossa and Brian De Palma’s Casualties of War. And my closest runner-up is Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors.
After living in Los Angeles for seven years, Jeffrey Goodman returned to his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana to direct The Last Lullaby. Co-written by the creator of Road to Perdition, and starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander, The Last Lullaby was filmed entirely in and around Shreveport and financed by 48 local investors. Goodman is now at work raising money for his next feature, Peril.