BlacKkKlansman / Directed by Spike Lee
Hollywood loves a good biopic, so when we see "based on a true story" in the opening credits we get comfy in our seats and know what to expect: liberties will be taken. Generally, we think “okay sure, based on some real shit but—— how much of this really happened?" In BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee's latest joint, we do more than wonder how much of this is true. This time, as a nation, we also self-reflect.
Brother Spike is not letting anyone off the hook. We don't get to escape for two and half hours and learn about the highs and lows of someone else's life far removed from our own. Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington, Denzel’s son) is the first black Colorado Springs police officer, known for working undercover to infiltrate a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan by using his white partner, Adam Driver’s Flip (“Chuck” in the memoir) as a surrogate. Flip, a Jewish man, is also dealing with the fact that he must pretend to hate his own kind in order to gather intel. Together, Driver and Washington provide Spike Lee with a way to broach the “how did we get here?” question from multiple angles.
The truth here is the most nonsensical you could imagine; the real Ron Stallworth did spend many a days talking to a young David Duke about his hatred for the blacks, the Jews, and his fear of the white race being browned out. Basically, it sounds even more realistic today.
Review continued below trailer:
Spike Lee is one of our best auteurs, and BlacKkKlansman is a much needed film and its no coincidence that it's released one year after Charlottesville. Today's America is not supposed to tolerate racism and bigotry, xenophobic behavior, or the celebration D.W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation." We say we're passed that but here we are putting up with all of it today. Since Do The Right Thing, Malcolm X, Bamboozled, When the Levees Broke, Summer of Sam, and pretty much in most of his films, brother Spike has been sounding the alarm to the racial tensions that continue to cripple our country, telling us to "Wake Up." Heck, those are the last lines said in School Daze, but what makes Lee’s work so hard-hitting this time around is that BlacKkKlansman does not shy away in showing how this through line, of a young David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan's mission to stoke the ires for a race war, is the same mindset that made its way to the White House.
I saw the movie Thursday because I couldn't wait for the typical Friday night opening. I am not exaggerating when I say everyone in the theater sat in silence during the closing credits asking ourselves: "How did we get here?" BlacKkKlansman is no doubt some "for real, for real shit.”
Once again, Spike Lee is telling us to "Wake Up."