D: Spike Lee
Focus Features/Legendary/Blumhouse/Monkeypaw/40 Acres & A Mule (Jason Blum, Spike Lee, Raymond Mansfield, Sean McKittrick, Jordan Peele & Shaun Redick)
USA 🇺🇸 2018
W: Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee [based on the book by Ron Stallworth]
DP: Chayse Irvin
Ed: Barry Alexander Brown
Mus: Terence Blanchard
John David Washington (Ron Stallworth), Adam Driver (Flip Zimmerman), Laura Harrier (Patrice Dumas), Topher Grace (David Duke), Jasper Pääkkonen (Felix Kendrickson)
Spike Lee's return to form, BlackkKlansman treads a very peculiar line between biopic, comedy, horrifying drama and political agitprop, but it has to be admitted that this is up there with 2018's best.
Based on a true story, the plot concerns a black police officer in Colorado Springs who is swiftly promoted to the intelligence unit and begins a case where he infiltrates the local organisation of the Ku Klux Klan. Unable to attend meetings himself (for obvious reasons), he sends by proxy a white skinned detective who harbours a Jewish heritage. The investigation gets in deep with the "Grand Wizard of the KKK" David Dukes and also insinuates that other people in high places (such as the FBI) were also members.
The double act between John David Washington and Adam Driver is where the film works best, but there is a subplot involving a romance with a civil rights activist and a bit of throwing the blame at movies such as Gone With The Wind & Birth Of A Nation. Personally, I take exception to this. The art itself cannot be racist, only the person who perceives the said art. It's quite easy to pick apart works of art from the past with political correct lenses of today, but any claim that it was films like these which provided the springboard for racist movements is clutching at straws, as well as being very preachy and a bit hypocritical from Lee.
Despite the director's personal politics obscuring some moments of the film, it's a very well-made piece of work, even achieving the look of Blaxploitation movies of the early 1970's in a way that Quentin Tarantino would.
It's a film which traipses a line between fierce racial hatred and satirical comedy and doesn't hold back as it delves deeper and deeper into the ugliness. Overall, Mississippi Burning did a better job, but this is still an informative and important film to watch.