Best (little-seen) rentable movie shot in / about Brooklyn (2008)

Do the Right Thing

The most movie-romanticized of the boroughs, Brooklyn might have been most eloquently served in Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing (1989), which broke a stallion's sweat trying to evoke the Bed-Stuy 'hood of the '80s, pressure-cooked by summer swelter, poisoned by racial spite, and raw with the memories of Eleanor Bumpurs and Howard Beach. Shot right there, Lee's movie is easily his most deftly constructed, wittily balancing over a dozen characters and engaging bigotry in a fearless dialogue the likes of which American film had never seen before. It's daunting to consider how much in the broad culture has changed because of this one movie, but the sense of life on the street, from Lee's own watchful everyman to the "corner men" dishing improvisations in the heat, is indelible. Runner-up: a tie, between Woody Allen's effortless, magisterial Radio Days (1987), which is whacked on ironic nostalgia but remains a cultural lexicon, and Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America (1986), which daydreams the city into the stratosphere.


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