Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Alec Baldwin, Topher Grace, Laura Harrier
Directed by: Spike Lee
Running Time: 135 minutes
BlacKkKlansman is, perhaps, Spike Lee’s most controversial film to date. The Morehouse Man who went on to pursue an M.F.A. from NYU is no stranger to shaking up the status quo and calling us to “Wake up!”
Spike, arguably the Godfather of Black Cinema, has contributed to some of the finest movies in modern motion picture history, including Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever, X, Chiraq, Mo’ Better Blues. However, it is the timeliness of BlacKkKlansman and the premise that make an argument for a possible Academy Award.
In this millennial era, when we hear the urgent cry of “Black Lives Matter” and the White House has become the Twitter In & Out House, Spike Lee enters the scene with a parody based on the “real-life” story of the first Black cop in Colorado who infiltrated the Klu Klux Klan.
The set-up is that Ron Stallworth – a rookie, renegade, Black Power brother – reads an ad in a Colorado newspaper soliciting for new recruits for the Knights of the KKK. He calls the Grand Wizard, pretending to be a White Aryan American, and mouths off rhetoric – convincing him that he hates any and every ethnic group save for the pure White race.
This makes for a meeting, where Ron must go undercover to gain the confidence and trust of the KKK local chapter. One problem: Ron is a Black – so, he uses the ole’ bait & switch by recruiting a fellow white Colorado cop to pretend to be him. What ensues is game of cat-and-mouse where these two cops, one Black, one Jewish, work together to get the one-up on the KKK.
On the inside, the undercover operation gets a bird’s eye view of what’s at the heart of what has been held as the most hate-filled organization in the country. Hats off to the screenwriter for a phenomenal adaptation of the book the film is based upon.
The acting is solid and right-on. Lee exhibits his gift for story-telling with amazing direction. There are so many angles this film could have been approached from. Nevertheless, Spike’s throw-back artistic effort makes this a must-see movie.
Let’s be very clear: this is sensitive, volatile subject matter. But Spike is a “responsible griot” who gives us plenty to appreciate.
If the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is to be fair next year, Spike Lee should be up for Best Director. And if he is, the Brooklyn homeboy will bring the Golden Oscar back home.