SLUMS OF BEVERLY HILLS
1998, Fox Searchlight, 91 min, Dir: Tamara Jenkins

Growing up on the outskirts of Beverly Hills, Vivian (Natasha Lyonne) dreams of a life in which her car salesman father (Alan Arkin) can finally afford a home and retire and she and her brothers can fit in at their prestigious high school. Those dreams seemingly become reality when Vivian’s wealthy uncle Mickie (Carl Reiner) promises them a luxury apartment. The only catch is that Vivian must keep an eye on his daughter (Marisa Tomei), who’s struggling to kick an addiction and finish nursing school - a task that is sure to push the young 14-year-old to her limit. Funny, observant and filled with memorable performances, this remarkable feature debut from writer-director Tamara Jenkins is richly deserving of its cult status.


CROOKLYN
1994, Universal, 114 min, USA, Dir: Spike Lee

Starring Alfre Woodard and Delroy Lindo and featuring a standout performance from Zelda Harris as the film’s 9-year-old narrator, CROOKLYN is a beautifully textured look at growing up right and wrong in black America. The emotional flip side to the more explosive DO THE RIGHT THING, the film (co-written with sister Joie and brother Cinque) is Lee’s most heartfelt (and surprisingly sentimental) film: a semiautobiographical portrait of the Carmichael family in Brooklyn in the early 1970s.


DO THE RIGHT THING
1989, Universal, 120 min, USA, Dir: Spike Lee

Spike Lee’s “magnifying glass under the hot sun” masterpiece (and one of the most controversial American films of its day), DO THE RIGHT THING is also deceptively simple. The story revolves around the comings and goings at Sal’s Famous Pizzeria on the hottest summer day in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Shot with an almost all-black crew, the film stars Lee as the hyperactive Mookie, with terrific support from Danny Aiello as Sal, Ossie Davis as Da Mayor, Giancarlo Esposito as Buggin’ Out and John Turturro as Pino. The film also features then-newcomer Rosie Perez, Ruby Dee, Bill Nunn and Joie Lee. With music by Public Enemy.


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