Thursday, May 23, 2024

Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” Tackles Race One Year After Charlottesville

Spike Lee is one of the most unique directors of our time—he has a certain way to tell a story that resonates over the years. Titles like “Do The Right Thing” and “She Gotta Have It” are still being used as inspiration for many current shows and movies.

Lee’s latest film, “BlacKkKlansman,” is set to hit another mark. Based on a 2014 memoir and released on Friday, the film deals with white supremacy and the current issues that revolve around it.

“The film is about what’s happening in the world today,” said Spike Lee, director of the film, said in a press release. “We tried to make this film contemporary and true to today.”

Adam Driver and Jason David Washington prepare for the investigation.

When I first heard the title of the film, I was under the impression it was satire. I was thinking it was a high production iteration of the Clayton Bigsby Sketch from “Chappelle’s Show” (if you haven’t seen it, YouTube it now).

“BlacKkKlansman” is based on the true story of Ron Stallworth (Jason David Washington), an African-American police officer who infiltrates the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan during the ’70s in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He and his white partner, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), take down the hate group from the inside during an undercover operation. Stallsworth does this by responding via a phone call to an ad about recruiting for the Klan he saw in the paper. Zimmerman goes in person and pretends to be Stallworth to receive information and move up in the ranks. Throughout the film, Zimmerman is put into hairy situations that almost blow his cover.

The amount of code-switching—moving between the black and white worlds—Stallsworth does is entertaining and one of my favorite parts of the film. As “BlacKkKlansman” is produced by Jordan Peele, the director of the 2017 hit “Get Out,” this cultural commentary makes sense.

Topher Grace as David Duke

Lee does a good job of riling you up—moments in the film make you want to ball your fist. The film begins with a monologue (by Alec Baldwin) regarding how America began to lose its purity when Martin Luther King Jr. started protesting for equality for black people. Later in the film, a conversation between Ron Stallworth and David Duke, head of the Ku Klux Klan, (played by Topher Grace), includes how disgusted Stallworth is with black people and ends with “God bless white America.” The dialogue only gets more intense as the film progresses. At one point, an officer approached Stallworth for a file on a black man. The officer asks “Can I get a file on a toad?”

But Lee also uses the film to reflect what’s going on currently. Movie attendees will catch scenes in the film that are very familiar to some recent headlines in the news, including the film being released one year after the violent clashes in Charlottesville, North Carolina. The ending ties into that which provides a real wake-up moment.

“BlacKkKlansman” is a tough and entertaining film that shows the unconventional way white supremacy was challenged. It is the latest Spike Lee joint you don’t want to miss.

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