Quantcast
Channel: Good Efficient Butchery
Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 1212

In Theaters: BLACKkKLANSMAN (2018)

0
0

BLACKkKLANSMAN
(US - 2018)

Directed by Spike Lee. Written by Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott and Spike Lee. Cast: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Corey Hawkins, Robert John Burke, Michael Buscemi, Frederick Weller, Ken Garito, Harry Belafonte, Alec Baldwin, Ryan Eggold, Jasper Paakkonen, Paul Walter Hauser, Ashlie Atkinson, Nicholas Turturro, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Danny Hoch, Arthur Nascarella, Brian Tarantina, Ryan Preimesberger. (R, 135 mins)

As difficult as it may be to believe, Spike Lee's BLACKkKLANSMAN is based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first black police officer hired by the Colorado Springs P.D. back in the 1970s, and the man who was instrumental in busting up a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. As a rookie hired mainly for show, Stallworth (BALLERS' John David Washington, son of frequent Lee star and close friend Denzel Washington) is immediately sent to the records department and generally dismissed and disrespected by his fellow officers. Looking for some meaningful police work, he jumps at the chance to go undercover at a rally hosted by Colorado College's black student union, welcoming civil rights leader Kwame Ture (Corey Hawkins), formerly known as the Black Panthers' Stokely Carmichael. Backed up by detectives Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) and Jimmy Creek (Michael Buscemi, Steve's look/soundalike younger brother), Ron doesn't see much more than rhetoric in Ture's call to arms, but he does make the acquaintance of Patrice Dumas (Laura Harrier), the "pig"-hating president of the black student union, though he keeps his job a secret.



Shortly after, spotting an ad for the local chapter of the KKK in the newspaper on a slow day in the squad room, Ron calls the number and pretends to be a white racist, inquiring for information about joining and, in a bad rookie mistake, giving his real name. Police chief Bridges (Robert John Burke) and Sgt. Trapp (Ken Garito) assign Ron to lead an undercover infiltration of the KKK, with Jewish Flip posing as "Ron Stallworth" while the real Ron coaches him and backs him up from a nearby location. As "Ron," Flip gathers intel by ingratiating himself with local chapter president Walter Breachway (Ryan Eggold) and his two chief underlings, hot-headed Felix Kendrickson (Jasper Paakkonen) and mouth-breathing moron Ivanhoe (Paul Walter Hauser, who seems to be cornering the market on such characters between this and his role as the hapless Shawn Eckhardt in I, TONYA). The ruse can't last forever, especially with Felix's overwhelming suspicion that "Ron"/Flip looks "too Jewish" and when he looks up "Ron Stallworth" in the phone book and sees that a black man lives at the address. Ron and Flip always manage to cover themselves and explain away inconsistencies, whether it's Flip avoiding a Felix-administered lie detector test or the real Ron getting in the good graces of KKK Grand Wizard David Duke (Topher Grace) over the phone. Tension soon escalates with Duke planning a visit to Colorado Springs for "Ron"'s initiation and Felix, Ivanhoe, and Felix's wife Connie (Ashlie Atkinson), who's desperate to be accepted as one of the guys, planning to bomb a civil rights demonstration organized by Patrice.


Co-produced by the GET OUT team of Blumhouse and Jordan Peele, BLACKkKLANSMAN is Lee's best narrative film in at least a decade, maybe since 2006's INSIDE MAN. Alternately edge-of-your-seat suspenseful, funny (the great Isiah Whitlock Jr. stops by long enough to drop his signature catchphrase), satirical, and biliously enraged, the film balances its moods perfectly and satisfies on all fronts, serving as a 1970s-set police procedural and as a bitter polemic about the current state of Donald Trump's America. It's no coincidence that the film was released on the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville tragedy, and Trump is invoked both in archival news footage and in the platitudes of Grace's sinister yet folksy ("You're darn tootin'!") David Duke, both in his political aspirations and his use of "America first" and the KKK"s background chatter of "making America great again." Lee even opens the film with a faux-editorial by fictional white supremacy advocate Dr. Kennebrew Beauregard (Alec Baldwin), whose disturbingly prophetic inflammatory hate speech sounds exactly like the Laura Ingraham diatribe that aired on Fox News just a couple of nights before the film's release. The riveting, kinetic third act balances the thwarting of an act of domestic terrorism along with a cross-cutting of "Ron"'s induction into the Klan and a celebratory viewing of D.W. Griffith's THE BIRTH OF A NATION and Patrice and her fellow black students listening to a lecture by elderly activist Mr. Turner (Harry Belafonte) as he recounts the horrifying 1916 lynching, mutilation, and burning of Jesse Washington, itself inspired by the renewed interest in the Klan following the box-office success of Griffith's film, which was praised by none other then President Woodrow Wilson.


Lee's output has been wildly inconsistent in recent years. Small, crowdfunded indies like 2012's RED HOOK SUMMER and his 2015 horror film DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS, a remake of the 1973 cult film GANJA AND HESS, were intermittently interesting curios at best, while his ill-advised 2013 remake of OLDBOY was a disaster that he disowned after the producers took it away from him in post-production (I haven't seen 2015's CHI-RAQ, which many praised as a return to form, or his barely-released, 2018 filmed play PASS OVER). But BLACKkKLANSMAN finds the 61-year-old auteur at a full fury on a level we haven't seen since DO THE RIGHT THING (or possibly BAMBOOZLED), a perfect mix of his commercial capabilities and his sociopolitical concerns. The cast is outstanding across the board, and over the course of its 135 minutes, a star is born with Washington, who turned to acting after his pro football career failed to pan out. His transformation into a leading man occurs with his character's growth over the film, and by the end, you'll absolutely see his dad in his performance. Dazzling from start to finish, and funny and frightening in equal measures, and with an utterly devastating final montage, BLACKkKLANSMAN immediately establishes itself as one of Lee's essential works and one of the best films of the year.

Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 1212

Latest Images

Trending Articles





Latest Images