‘BlackKkKlansman’ may be Spike Lee’s best film, ever

Laura Harrier and John David Washington in BlacKkKlansman
Our Score:

“Dis joint is based on some f***ed up fo’ real shit” – opening credits of BlackKkKlansman

“Our clear goal must be the advancement of the white race and separation of the white and black races. This goal must include freeing of the American media and government from subservient Jewish interests – David Duke in a November 1978 issue of ‘The Crusader’ a Knights of the KKK newsletter

Do not walk, but run to the nearest theater to see BlackKkKlansman from producer Jordan Peele and writer/director/producer Spike Lee.  It is an outstanding film.  It is an incredibly important film.  It begins with images of dead soldiers from Gone With the Wind and then shows “Dr. Kennebrew Beauregard” (Alec Baldwin – Rules Don’t Apply) providing a “science-based” explanation of why whites are the superior race.

In the early 1970s, Ron Stallworth (John David Washington – HBO’s “Ballers”) becomes the first African-American member of the Colorado Springs, CO Police Department.  Relegated to the records room at first, he is summoned by “Chief Bridges” ( Robert John Burke – 2 Guns).  He is being transferred to the Intelligence Unit because they need someone to go undercover to attend a speech by Stokely Carmichael (Corey Hawkins – Kong: Skull Island).  The speech is being put on by the local college’s Black Student Union and its president “Patrice Dumas” (Laura Harrier – Spider-Man: Homecoming) is outside the venue.  Ron finds her attractive and makes a connection with her.

After the event is over and he and his partners on the operation, “Flip Zimmerman” (Adam Driver – Paterson) and “Jimmy Creek” (Michael Buscemi – Being Flynn) are debriefed and back to work.  Ron sees an ad in the local paper for the KKK and on a whim he calls the number listed.  He speaks with “Walter Breachway” (Ryan Eggold) who is the local chapter president.  Ron makes a rookie mistake and uses his real name on the call.  So he suggests that Flip be the “white” Ron Stallworth in person while he continues as the telephone version.  Flip goes to meet with Walter and also meets “Felix” (Jasper Pääkkönen) who is extremely suspicious of Ron.


Eventually Ron’s paperwork to join the “organization” is sent off to the national headquarters.  The real Ron calls the offices in Louisiana and winds up speaking with David Duke (Topher Grace – War Machine).  Duke finds Stallworth to be an excellent “White American” and agrees to expedite the issuance of his membership card.

Topher Grace as David Duke in BlacKkKlansman

The dichotomy of Ron being the verbal KKK member while Flip is the one the local chapter’s membership sees is fascinating, although it does present problems.  The tension escalates when it is announced that David Duke will be present when Ron is actually initiated into the KKK.  Ron and Flip sense something is being planned where lives will be endangered, but will they uncover what (if anything) is going on in time?

John David Washington gives an excellent performance in his first major motion picture lead role.  The idea that a black man in the early 1970s can be a fan of blaxploitation flicks, while believing so strongly in the need for law enforcement that he doesn’t like hearing cops called pig is tough to carry off.  He does it with aplomb and the occasional reminder of the movie chops of his father, Denzel Washington.  But the best performance here is from Adam Driver.  He portrays a man who has spent his entire time as a cop supporting the “blue wall” and not being aware of or concerned with his heritage.  Now when confronted by the extreme bigotry of the KKK, he begins to question his own beliefs.

Spike Lee mixes history and current events with the deft nature of a chef whose restaurant has easily achieved a 3 star rating from the Michelin Guide.  He contrasts the ugliness of bigotry against the backdrop of Colorado’s natural beauty.  The musical choices are outstanding.

 

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