BlackkKlansman - This Movie Rocks More Than Most
Dir: Spike Lee
Starring John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Alec Baldwin, Topher Grace, Robert John Burke
Go sing it from the rooftops – Spike Lee is back. And he’s fast and he’s fucking furious. BlackkKlansman not only marks Spike’s finest work since 2002’s vastly under-valued and 9/11 informed 25th Hour, but stands shoulder high with the best work the filmmaker has ever done.
Brought to him as a project by Get Out’s Jordan Peels, Klansman tells the true story of 1970s black cop Ron Stallworth (Washington Jr doing a splendid job where once Lee would have cast Washington Snr) who infiltrated the local branch of the KKK, with the help of fellow cop – the all white and wonderfully named Flip Zimmerman (Driver, offering fine support.)
Lee pitches this remarkable story somewhere between tense thriller and almost absurdist comedy. He clearly sets his agenda from the opening sequence of a well cast Alec Baldwin delivering a ridiculous racist tirade – and yes, the subtlety of Baldwin currently being best known as SNL’s Trump is not lost – it’s here to be rammed home. For this is a passionate movie made by a man on fire, something that Lee hasn’t been for well over a decade. He lacerates his subject matter here, making it brilliantly accessible without ever under utilising his craft. Lee – simply put – knows how to frame a shot better than just about anyone, and his pacing here adroitly accompanies his visual prowess. Klansman is a film that has a grove, and it’s a delightful one to be stuck in, despite the innate seriousness – and often unpleasantness – of its material.
The performances are uniformly terrific, but this is more a movie about the man making it than those playing it. There is such energy in this film, it reminds than Lee – criminally – still doesn’t have an Oscar (sort that out, Academy.) This film bristles with anger, with politics, passion more than polemic, and – notably – with comedy. It is a worldview that is there to provoke, but never forgets the best way to incite sometimes is to entertain. Educate comes next.
BlackkKlansman (a typography and spell check nightmare of a title) is the most vital film Lee has produced in over a decade. Hell, it’s the most powerful film anyone has made this year. And if Lee’s brilliant – and totally appropriate – use of newsreel footage from last year’s Charlottesville protests (something that Lee constantly refers to as an act of terrorism on home soil) doesn’t either make you cry or call out in anger – then WAKE UP and check your motherfucking pulse. Genius. Pure and simple.
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