Director Spike Lee dives head-first into a maelstrom of racial and social ills, using as his springboard the hottest day of the year on one block in Brooklyn, NY. Three businesses dominate the block: a storefront radio station, where a smooth-talkin’ deejay (Samuel L. Jackson) spins the platters that matter; a convenience store owned by a Korean couple; and Sal’s Famous Pizzeria, the only white-operated business in the neighborhood. Sal (Danny Aiello) serves up slices with his two sons, genial Vito (Richard Edson) and angry, racist Pino (John Turturro). Sal has one black employee, Mookie (Spike Lee), who wants to “get paid” but lacks ambition. His sister Jade (Joie Lee, Spike’s sister), who has a greater sense of purpose and a “real” job, wants Mookie to start dealing with his responsibilities, most notably his son with girlfriend Tina (Rosie Perez). Two of Mookie’s best friends are Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn), a monolith of a man who rarely speaks, preferring to blast Public Enemy’s rap song Fight The Power on his massive boom box; and Buggin’ Out (Giancarlo Esposito), nicknamed for his coke-bottle glasses and habit of losing his cool. When Buggin’ Out notes that Sal’s “Wall of Fame,” a photo gallery of famous Italian-Americans, includes no people of color, he eventually demands a neighborhood boycott, on a day when tensions are already running high, that incurs tragic consequences.
Screens on Saturday February 28 at 6:30PM. Part of SPIKE LEE: NOW AND THEN along with the director’s latest film DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS also playing February 27 – March 1.