Spike Lee is back, and he goes straight for the throat of racism!
AMC theaters held an advanced screening of BlacKKKlansman on Monday night, so you know I was in attendance. Lee is one of my favorite directors, and I am putting my A-List subscription to good use. I was highly intrigued when I heard this movie was coming out. I knew a little bit about Ron Stallworth’s time as an undercover cop from a documentary I saw before, but I was not aware of the extent of his work. After seeing this movie, I am going to have to read his book. I was glad to see that Stallworth consulted on the film, because even though the movie is presented with Lee’s signature style, the dialogue and a lot of the situations were accurate. The parallels to the racism we see today are scathing, and can’t be denied. The ideologies the KKK promoted in the 70s are still being promoted today, and just as blatant. Stallworth was a rookie in his Colorado police department, but was able to infiltrate the KKK because they were running recruitment ads in the local newspaper. That alone is an eye opener, and especially harrowing because I lived in Colorado for a few years, and have read articles in the same newspaper that ran the ad. Kinda scary, while not be surprising at all. One of the best parts of the movie is the superb acting from the leads. John Washington is excellent as Stallworth. I was very impressed with his portrayal, and the duality of his role. He had to hide that he was black, and a cop. It was fun to see him make some of the same faces, and have mannerisms similar to his dad, Denzel Washington. It was interesting to see the conversations Stallworth had with Klansmen over the phone, and how his deception paved his way to becoming phone buddies with David Duke (played by Topher Grace), a former grand wizard of the KKK (always a racist POS though). Duke personally sent Stallworth his membership to the KKK. Absolutely hilarious. Grace’s portrayal showed how Duke’s personality and manner made him seem like a good man, but he was beloved by white supremacist for promoting hateful, evil rhetoric against people of color. It’s a trip that Grace was almost a splitting image of David Duke. That mustache man!! Adam Driver’s performance was also impressive. He plays Flip Zimmerman, Stallworth’s Jewish partner, who has been hiding the fact that he is a Jew. So Ron’s name sounded “white” (see the movie to find out why he used his real name), but when he finally gets invited to a meet and greet, it was obvious that someone else would have to stand in. This is where Zimmerman comes in at. He played the face of “white” Ron Stallworth, and was able to gather insider intel on what the KKK was planning. The information they were able to extract even aided in shutting down meetings and stopping plans of violence that were being orchestrated. I really enjoyed Laura Harrier and Corey Hawkins as black power activists. Hawkins’ character delivers a powerful speech that still very much holds weight 40 plus years after the movie’s setting. Makes you think about some things, doesn’t it?
This movie is definitely going to change the dynamics of my top ten for the year, and I am looking forward to seeing it again. The social commentary is a gut punch. The movie speaks on the endurance of racism in America, the difference of ideals between white power and black power, police relations with people of color, people of color being police, and why the KKK still functions with impunity today. There is more than that. Much more, but I leave that for you to see. Spike Lee is up front in and your face with this one, and it’s great. The theater I was in was silent by the time the credits started rolling. That silence was followed with an ovation. I highly recommend that you go see this movie.