With 'The Ides of March' on the way, a state of the filmpolitik union
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9. "Do the Right Thing" (Spike Lee, 1989)
Politics aren’t merely a matter for suit-clad men in formal halls of power; they’re what we negotiate on a daily basis in our own communities, where the codes of conduct are far less regimented. Rarely has a film made this point with as much wit and fury as Spike Lee’s landmark study of racial friction brought to a head on a scorching summer’s day in Brooklyn. It begins with an issue as minor as Giancarlo Esposito’s pavement-level activist wanting a few black faces on the wall of the local Italian pizzeria, and escalates to a community uprising with tragic consequences. Politics begin on the street, Lee tells us, and often end there, too.