This is a film you don’t want to miss. It needs to be seen. BlacKkKlansman is a phenomenal movie, striking a parallel between our country’s past and current problems with racism. It’s one of the best movies of the year and it receives a five-star review from me.
This new Spike Lee joint (Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X) could go down as one of his greatest achievements ever put on film. It’s a blunt force that will knock you off your feet. Fueled with realism, poetry and anger; Lee’s newest masterpiece is telling America to wake up! In his own way, Lee is trying to ‘Make America Great’ but not by grotesque rhetoric or verbal narcissism that the current administration has chosen to do. Instead, Lee – a film poet in disguise – is using the medium to remind our country that prejudice hasn’t gone away. Fueled by valid anger and historical context, Lee parallels our country’s past and current racial tensions to prove that nothing has really changed. So, let’s dial it back to the early 1970s, and Ron Stallworth (an incredible John David Washington) is the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department.
Determined to make a name for himself, Stallworth bravely sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Stallworth then decides to recruit a more seasoned colleague, Flip Zimmerman (a top-notched Adam Driver), to help with the undercover investigation. The pair become a winning team as they tackle the investigation of a lifetime. Together, they team up to take down the extremist hate group as the organization aims to ramp up its violent rhetoric to appeal to the mainstream Colorado lands. One of their slogans is ‘America First,' sound familiar? This is a movie that, at times, will have you laughing and then suddenly crying in despair. It’s a movie that zeros in its message to the mainstream movie audience. BlacKkKlansman did not disappoint. Lee’s dialogue was blunt and crisp throughout the film. He did not hold back and I applaud him for that. This is a bold film and is one that should spark conversation well after the credits roll.
Washington did a fantastic job in his incarnation as Ron Stallworth. I am looking forward to seeing him in future films to come. Also, this was probably Driver's best performance to-date. He was strong, confident and on-point with his character. And how about Topher Grace? His incarnation as the despicable David Duke was a surprise show-stealer. It was incredibly brave of Grace to take on a role like this and he knocked it out of the park with wit and ignorance. Everything throughout the film had an exact purpose, even the tilted camera angles. To me, these camera angles were very jarring and they kept me on edge. Personally, I would love to see Lee be nominated and even win the Oscar for Best Director. He deserves it. Something that also struck a chord with me, was how Lee incorporated the 1915 film The Birth of a Nation into the movie. Clips of that movie were used towards the end to show how the KKK rallied around this particular movie, due to its racist roots. Yes, cinematically, that movie was groundbreaking back in the early 1900s. But, it was also highly controversial because of its racist undertones. In the end, D. W. Griffith’s movie helped revive the KKK back into existence. For film buffs, we need to talk about this and the repercussions. Sadly, there are many who want to brush off those horrid parts of Griffith’s movie. To me, that's not enough.
After seeing the film, I was reading an interview that Time Magazine did with Lee. During the interview, Lee said this regarding The Birth of a Nation: "He recalls being shown 1915’s The Birth of a Nation as a student at New York University’s film school. 'They lectured about D.W. Griffith and his film,' Lee says. 'But the social and political implications of the film were never discussed.' During that period, the KKK was largely inactive. 'The film brought about the rebirth of the Klan,' Lee says. 'And therefore, it was directly responsible for black people being murdered and lynched. Never discussed.'" Now, Lee is using his voice for the good of our country and to remind everyone that we need to wake up for the sake of our current democratic crisis. He’s also saying to the people who think they can just sit back and let the system take its course, you're part of the problem.
By standing up for what you know is right, making your voice heard and calling out bigotry, we can come stronger together as a nation. Under our Lady Liberty, we are a country that represents freedom no matter what your gender, race, ethnicity, religion and or sexual orientation is. But in 2018, all of this seems to be shaken. The film ends with the events of last August’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA. Lee rings in the parallels of the past with today. BlacKkKlansman even opened in the United States on August 10, 2018, which was chosen to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville rally. Lee was doing this for a reason. Those lasting frames of anger and tears will stick with you long into the night. While Trump's tweets continue to viciously drive a wedge more into our country; Lee decided to instead speak from the heart through the power of film. In hope, we can come together united as a nation. Years from now, Trump’s botched speeches, stormy lies and grotesque tweets won’t last, but Lee’s timely masterpiece will. Trust me.
BlacKkKlansman is rated R (Restricted). For language throughout, including racial epithets, and for disturbing/violent material and some sexual references.