BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman ★★★★

[Quickie before I post my Slenderman review, and quite late considering I saw BlacKkKlansman on Thursday night.]

I love Do the Right Thing, not only for how Spike Lee pushes the boundaries of visual storytelling, but in the way he’s accurately aware of multiple perspectives. He obviously values his own perspective—as a black man and black empowerment activist—yet he frames the competing opinions of his other characters with enough sympathy to keep them from falling into charactiture. For a bad example of what I mean, check out the way this year’s Blindspotting handled police and hipsters.

Despite not quite pulling through with the stylistic expectations his previous filmography boasts, his slick and engaging detective thriller BlacKkKlansman doubles down on that same multi-perspective kaleidoscoping that brings depth not only to the film’s politics, but to our world as well. The movie interrogates the victim complex surrounding white supremacists; ever since D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation electrified both disadvantaged and privileged whites alike, the Klan’s revival sparked a nationalistic army to stand against a largely imagined threat. But even if Lee understands where the rage comes from, he doesn't give their perspective credence. In fact, from blooper reel Dr. Beaureguard to the easily gullible Grand Wizard David Duke, each white supremacist onscreen is kind of a buffoon. And they should be! Lee pulls no punches in showing their blind hatred and inability to reason. Maybe it's not the full and comprehensive breakdown of internalized white supremacy and microaggression culture wish fulfillment that Vox.com hoped for, but a deserved middle finger to the guys who tried to make the Klan cool again. 

The camera work does just enough to keep the performances in the foreground, while enhancing the mood of each scene. However, a number of editing flaws, including rushed dialogue continuity and clearly unfinished scenes, and structural problems make the movie feel as though it were missing the same direct control Lee exerted upon his earlier films. Despite occasionally being marred by these problems, the movie continues to engage and provoke some interesting questions about the persistence of white supremacy, up until a graphically blatant sequence tacked onto the ending (which I've learned was a late addition to the film) makes the message painfully clear,  lacking any sort of style or grace that might make it a worthwhile appendage to an already worthwhile movie.

Wesley liked these reviews

All