Spike Lee’s ‘Blackkklansman’ timely in Trump’s America: Review

August 7, 2018

Spike Lee’s ‘Blackkklansman’ timely in Trump’s America: Review

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The characters in Spike Lee’s “Blackkklansman” are either racist Ku Klux Klansmen wanting a race war, or frightened, angry Black people being urged to arm themselves and perhaps start their own revolt.

The movie, while excellent and certainly provocative, suffers from a lack of reasonable people --  that large, middle area where most people live. And, the people who need to see it, are not likely to attend a Spike Lee movie, even one based on a true story.

The film stars real life supercop Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) and fellow police officers Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) and Jimmy Creek (Michael Buscemi). They are among the few reasonable in the film that want to thwart the the KKK’s plans to cause trouble in a Colorado city.

Set in the early 1970′s, Stallworth poses as a wild-eyed racist on the telephone and convinces the KKK to let him join. But once invited to join, he’s stymied, since a Black man can’t very well show up at a KKK meeting.

That’s where Zimmerman, a Jewish police detective, steps in to pose as Stallworth and join the Klan while wearing a wire to get them to incriminate themselves.

The whole idea sounds preposterous, until we realize much of it actually happened.

The failure of the movie is not presenting the third option that precluded violent revolution on either side, the option that we lived through. It wasn’t perfect, but things are better and there was no nationwide revolution.

Also, it was a little odd that every Black person in the movie looked like a model out of a fashion magazine. The men were handsome and the women gorgeous. No one was overweight or unattractive or had a hair out of place. They all wore expensive, perfect clothes.

The KKK members were average at best, many were just flat out ugly, slovenly or stupid and mostly wore dirty t-shirts.

Cop buddies Adam Driver (Kylo Ren in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) and Michael Buscemi (brother of Steve) are a few subway stops from handsome as well, but they were still the good guys.

The acting in the film is impeccable, no one misses a beat.

Lee’s direction is functional, but sometimes lacks tension. When Driver is accused of being a Jew and was about to be hooked up to a lie detector by the KKK, the scene played out so fast that there was little excitement. And the subject never came up again even though it was unresolved.

Topher Grace excelled as former KKK leader David Duke, whom we get to see in real life at the end of the movie where Lee shows scenes of the KKK march in Charlottesville where a protester was killed. The after-movie scenes also shows Donald Trump’s infamous speech where he appeared to lay blame for the death on both sides.

The movie was written by Lee and three others, based on Stallworth’s book and produced by several people including comedian and filmmaker Jordan Peele, who won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the horror film, “Get Out.”

If nothing else, the film is a real conversation starter.



Who: With John David Washington, Adam Driver, Michael Buscemi, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Alec Baldwin and others. Directed by Spike Lee. 

Rated: R.

Running time: 135 minutes.

When: Opens Friday, Aug. 10.

Where: Area theaters.

Grade: A -

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