A very moving story, and this is probably Spike Lee's best in years, but without the cinematography of Ernest Dickerson, Lee doesn't have much pizzazz as a filmmaker. Or even a distinctive style; it felt like this film might have been made by anyone, and if I hadn't known that this was a Spike Lee film, I never would have guessed. 3.5*
Grand Prix winner at Cannes. Lee's latest may not be as politically astute as his recent 'Chi-raq' or 'Da Sweet Blood of Jesus' and is a little heavy handed or obvious at times but still reps an achievement in today's political climate. Lee's script does achieve moments of brilliance and his directorial style is evident and impressive here. Washington good in the lead role but Driver makes the most impression.
Aside from a comedy, a thriller, and the best script Lee has had in years, this is something else: a movie about movies, from the open racism of Birth of a Nation to the Confederate nostalgia of Gone with the Wind to the rumblings of blaxploitation. If you take it as a straight movie, it has its slips. As a pastiche, it's brilliant. And its message for 2018 is that laughing at an Alec Baldwin sketch isn't enough.
Those saying this is Spike Lee's return to form obviously turned the other cheek when "Red Hook Summer" and "Chi-Raq" came out. But those who say it's his best in years — I'll give you that and then some. "BlacKkKlansman" is a bold work of revenge for a veteran director clearly sickened by gutless racism and the unconscionable state of American politics. It shows in nearly every minute of this engrossing picture.
This is one of Spike Lee's best films, proving that he can still pack a hell of a punch with his social commentary and in pointing out America's hypocrisy. John David Washington gives a powerhouse performance as well as everyone involved. Spike crafts an entertaining but thought provoking film that links the past with the present and how we are still at war with each other for no reason.
What I have come to cherish about Spike is the pop-Brechtian political theatre he engenders. If the radical performative play of CHI-RAQ gives way to something more broadly popular in BLACKKKLANSMAN, it would seem to do so for something like the purposes of a broader mobilization. I cannot help but think back to SWEET SWEETBACK. As w/ Van Peebles, Spike's joints are activities that occur within matrices of community.
Towards the end of the film there’s two posters featuring Nixon talking about “now more than ever.” Well, Lee makes it clear that the “now more than ever” of the past is itching to become a reality again, a point he drives home in the film’s coda. Heavy imagery, sure to silence any theater. Still, not once he loses sight of the entertainment value. BlacKkKlansman's suspenseful, expertly paced and often very funny.
Easy to get behind politically, for those already sympathetic--which is to say, for most of its audience, although I won't be surprised if small groups of "white nationalists" wind down after they "unite the right" tonight (yeah, right) with a film that gives them mainstream screen time (i.e., rope) ampler than they've enjoyed since, say, All in the Family--but disappointingly dull, awkward, and tedious as cinema.