WHAT IS IT?
A brilliant movie that tells the unbelievable story of how a black cop infiltrated the KKK.
WHY SHOULD I WATCH IT?
This is a movie that will make you think – – about America’s past — and its future.
When I went to see BLACKKKLANSMAN I didn’t know a lot about the movie. I knew that it was “a Spike Lee joint,” the true story of how an African-Amercian police officer infiltrated the KKK, that a favorite actor from Girls was in it, and that it was at my beloved neighborhood theatre. I didn’t know how the story could possibly unfold. The publicity posters showed dark skin peeking out from under a KKK hood, a laughable premise. But the part where it was “true” and “about the KKK” had me bracing for two hours of deadly serious awfulness.
And there was a lot that was awful: the casual use of racial and ethnic slurs, spoken as often as the racist characters drew breath; witnessing the painful exercise of metaphorical self mutilation when the undercover detectives are forced to play along and engage in despicable, personally offensive banter; the ease with which humans are capable of hurting each other; the painful recounting of America’s horrible past where lynchings were literally sport and entertainment. To be clear, the awfulness is absolutely necessary to tell this particular story. Racism is terrible. A movie about it shouldn’t be all fun and games.
And there was a lot that was enjoyable. The actors were amazing. The stylized 70’s vibe was flawless, the clothes and cars and dialogue perfect. The juxtaposition of violent white supremecy with an activist quest for black empowerment and equality was poignant and ironic. There were clever moments, like references to making our country great (cue deep sigh), that were sadly and ridiculously familiar. There were truly funny moments, and certainly our hero gets the last laugh in the end (and applause from within the theatre).
But the very end. I can’t really describe what that did to me. I have never been so stunned, or so sad, or so determined at the end of a movie. What a searing indictment. All I could think of was, whatever I am doing, it is not enough. Also: Vote.
Spike Lee is a genius.