I just barely made it to the screening of Do the Right Thing at the Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) I think I'm beginning to understand what's meant by a Spike Lee "Joint" as compared to a "movie": in a movie, it's like a moving representation of reality, but in a "joint", it's like a view of reality as viewed through a filter or machine. Kind of like the difference between a photograph and an X-ray, or better, the difference between a fire and a box of matches.
I left and went to Solera Wine Bar (647 South Ave.) for a bit to think about it. I really couldn't come up with anything but that match-fire metaphor. I did know it was different from a "movie" because "did you like it?" is not really a valid question to ask afterward.
See, it's like an extract of life. You take all the stuff that makes people behave a certain way and you strip away all the parts that aren't important and you're left with this residue that's the essence of it all. Spike Lee then takes that and shapes it back into a reality with characters and a story. But it's not reality. The pizza shop isn't a pizza shop, it's the non-black outsiders in a black neighborhood who everybody obviously knows aren't black, but who get blown up when they try and express/impose their culture/beliefs/biases. Mookie isn't a black man who works at said pizza place, he is the silent majority who try to make ends meet but slowly boil inside as they try to find the point of the pointless.
So it really doesn't even make sense to talk about it like a movie. It's … umm … you know, a Spike Lee Joint.