Saturday, August 4, 2018

BlacKkKlansman

Film Review by Kam Williams



Black Cop Infiltrates Klan in Fact-Based Dramedy from Spike Lee


Back in the Seventies, Ron Stallworth became the first African-American to join the Colorado Springs Police Department. The ambitious, young, college grad was soon promoted to detective, and his initial undercover case involved covering a Stokely Carmichael (Corey Hawkins) rally when the incendiary Black Power advocate was invited to speak at Colorado College.

But his most unlikely mission involved infiltrating the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Here's how that came to pass. Using his real name, he impulsively answered a classified ad recruiting new members, not knowing what to expect. 
 
When the organization subsequently contacted him by phone, Ron adopted a white accent and complained bitterly about his sister's dating a black man. That was all that it took for him to get invited to the next Klan meeting and to secure a membership card signed by Grand Wizard David Duke (Topher Grace). 
 
Instead of blowing his cover by showing up himself, Ron asked a Jewish colleague, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), to attend and impersonate him. Despite several close calls, the two managed to closely monitor the Klan's movements over the next nine months.

That alternately comical and life-threatening assignment is the focus of BlacKkKlansman, a thought-provoking dramedy adapted by Spike Lee from Stallworth's memoir of the same name. The movie made quite a splash at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, where it won the Jury's Grand Prize. 
 
What makes the picture work is the way in which it mocks the small-minded Klan members' racist attitudes and behaviors. However, it simultaneously serves as a timely cautionary tale by juxtaposing that shameful chapter of American history with a closing credits newsreel of the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville last summer which culminated with the murder of Heather Heyer when a white supremacist plowed his car into a parade of peaceful counter-demonstrators. 
 
A sobering Spike Lee Joint suggesting that the Klan might very well rise again, especially given equivocating President Trump's frustrating refusal to take sides. Easily, Spike's best offering in ages!



Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for pervasive profanity, racial epithets, disturbing violence, sexual references and mature themes
Running time: 135 minutes
Production Studio: 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks / Monkeypaw Productions / Blumhouse Productions / QC Entertainment / Legendary Entertainment / Perfect World Pictures
Distributor: Focus Features


To see a trailer for BlacKkKlansman, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFc6I0rgmgY

2 comments:

Alex Reynard said...

"into a parade of peaceful counter-demonstrators."

What happened in Charlottesville is that the mayor and local police allowed the Neo-Nazis to be completely surrounded by a humongous mass of protestors that outnumbered them by hundreds. The Nazis literally had no way to exit, and the protestors were throwing objects at them and spitting on them. What happened next is obvious to anyone who knows the phrase, "a cornered rat will lunge." When the driver tried to leave, protestors swarmed his car. It was inevitable he would have hit somebody, even if he hadn't rammed on the gas.

Heather died because the police did nothing to prevent her death. Allegedly, they were ordered to stand down and do nothing. If true, then whoever gave those orders shares the blame as much as the driver. This was deep negligence on the part of the city itself. This was like a zoo letting a crowd jump into a crocodile's pit to pet them, and then being completely shocked when the crocodiles started eating people.

RUSTRON said...

I watched the film during the National Black Journalist Convention in Detroit and we were honored with a Q&A with Spike Lee.
I enjoyed the film a lot another good guy(black people) gets the bad guy white people so it was inspiring in that frame.
May I add, I have produced a documentary that examines the rise of black business in America, called Business in the Black. For more info. www.businessintheblack.net
Anthony Brogdon