BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, 2018) nom Best Film Oscar
Topher Grace, Alec Baldwin, Adam Driver
Ron Stallworth, an African American police officer from Colorado Springs, CO, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan branch with the help of a Jewish surrogate who eventually becomes its leader. Based on actual events.
Spike Lee’s recent film marks a return to form for the director who, despite his legendary status in Hollywood, has always been hit and miss. The story on which the film is based – an African American police officer from Colorado Springs infiltrates the David Duke-led Ku Klux Klan – is so bizarre that it alone would be enough to make a fascinating film. Add to this the effortlessness of Lee’s craft and the excellent performances – including Topher Grace as David Duke – and the result is a very good comedy. Still, the premise raises some ideological questions, as does the film’s claim that it is more than just a rollicking tale - evident in a closing credit sequence that attempts to situate this story in the contemporary milieu of racial tension in the USA. The notion that a policeman – whose role, by definition, is to defend the city (the polis) through the maintenance of power relations amongst its inhabitants – could be a progressive political activist is absurd. Ari Mattes, The Conversation.
BlacKkKlansman presents racism as a dichotomy between the absurd and the dangerous; the film’s intentional laughs often get caught in one’s throat. Director Spike Lee and his co-screenwriters Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott adapt a tale of deception based on some 'fo’ real, fo’ real sh*t' that was first covered in Ron Stallworth’s 2014 memoir. Stallworth was a Black Colorado Springs police officer who successfully infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan, going so far as to speak with David Duke on several occasions. Stallworth’s undercover police work, aided by an immeasurable assist from his White partner, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) helped expose and quash an attack on Black activists. Odie Henderson.
This is an unapologetically patchy and scattershot film, driven to include what Lee damn well wants to include – from stark history lessons, like Harry Belafonte recounting the lynching of Jesse Washington, to an answerphone message that circles the banality of evil: 'You have reached the Colorado branch of the Ku Klux Klan. Please leave a message.' The most knowing moments come through barely-veiled references to Trumpist America, as when Duke portends to Stallworth: 'There should be more people like you in public office. For America to achieve its… greatness.' Sophie Monks Kaufman, Sight & Sound.
Without giving too much away, I must report that some of the film’s close-to-final scenes have an almost utopian, wish-fulfilment quality to them, with bits that are sure to get roaring audience responses. But Lee then quickly cuts to images of such raw, disturbing power so that any momentary sense of triumph is sure to catch in our throats. BlacKkKlansman resists closure, reconciliation, or catharsis, and Lee has no interest in keeping this thing formally unified. What use is that kind of unity in a society that’s falling apart? Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice.
Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 18 January, 2019 | Now: 19 February, 2019