BlacKkKlansman ***1/2

Spike Lee’s new “joint” works on two levels – an exposure of current racist and anti-Semitic activities that bookend the movie, and a wildly true 1970s story about a black undercover cop infiltrating the KKK that covers the middle portion. Both ideas would work on their own, but that’s not Spike Lee, and I find his audacity to throw them in a mixer admirable. It’s unfortunate and probably inevitable, however, that such a broad stroke results in erratic tonality, an almost parodic film score, and unnecessary filmmaker trademarks (the conveyor belt shot at the end, for instance) that distract more than center the viewer. The message is still urgent, and the reality is still dire. My only hope is that one of the haters represented in this movie actually sees this movie.

7 thoughts on “BlacKkKlansman ***1/2

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    1. First off, thank you for the conversation! And, thank you for sharing that article. What a unique and urgent perspective on these matters. I did see “Sorry to Bother You” and appreciated Riley’s vision more than his execution: “There’s no doubt Boots Riley is ambitious with his racial/political satire, but his movie is a one-trick pony (“use your white man voice”), and even that ploy is either spoiled in the trailer, overused, or poorly done. I appreciate his attempt at attaching an “otherworldliness” to what is actually a bland, profane-ridden script, but this is a far cry from similar approaches seen in films like Be Kind Rewind or Being John Malkovich. A disappointment (and, I’m in the minority), but this is a good example of a movie being weird for the sake of being weird.” Overall, I did not like his movie, but I think he is the new, progressive black rights voice to follow, and I want to see more. Do you know if he is working on a new project? Again, thanks for the comment 🙂

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      1. I appreciate your thoughtful response, Bernie! What do you think of what Boots said about KKKlansman? I was concerned how Spike used poetic license to glam up actual history probably as much as you disliked Boots’ format. As to a one-trick pony, maybe you can’t relate to the rest of what Boots tries to get across in his politically profound film. Googling for a minute, it looks like he has committed to writing another screenplay 🙂

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        1. But, can Spike Lee get anything “right” then? He used white cops in his masterpiece, DO THE RIGHT THING, and he got ripped for using white protagonists in 25th HOUR. Also, I wonder how much he really did “glam” up the history. Maybe he was trying to make a universal message. I respect both opinions, and I think Spike Lee is just a convenient ancestor of film to criticize because it’s been since 1989 when he made his everlasting mark on the topic of American racism. Regarding, SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, I wish Riley honed down more on message rather than tone.

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          1. I’m not a huge fan of Spike Lee movies. The one I thought was a masterpiece was “Summer of Sam.” I’m not sure what you think the message or the tone were in STBY, but he created an immersive world with his film, which I take as the message.

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            1. I wish Lee didn’t end DO THE RIGHT THING with a riot. SUMMER OF SAM is very good. I only saw it one time, so I should revisit that one. Riley certainly creates a fascinating satirical world in STBY, but I thought his white consumerist ego joke exhausted itself. And, although a message doesn’t really have to be clear in a movie, I didn’t feel like he was aiming one way or another. Maybe Spike Lee is too obvious. Currently, I think the issues of black injustice are best portrayed in IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK. Did you see that one?

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