Thursday, August 23, 2018

BlackkKlansman


Spike Lee's BlackkKlansman has a frustrating sloppiness to it that, while not unique to Lee's film, is especially disappointing because it undercuts the picture's noble intensions. Lee usually manages to walk the line between genius and jive pretty well, but in this film, which is based on a true account by black Colorado detective Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) who with a white co-worker (Adam Driver) infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan, the mix of dogma and dogging is particularly unsettling. One would think that a director as astute as Lee would have discovered by now how to pull "racist white" from an actor without the result being cartoonish. There's too much dastardly on the screen and not enough ominous. Do the Right Thing, Lee's unquestionable masterpiece, is so good because the hate was presented in credible layers. Not so here. Lee has always seemed to me to believe that more is always better, so Klansman has set pieces that are longer than they need be, exchanges between characters that verge on tedious and speeches that are half-again preachier than necessary. BlackkKlansman is an exhausting and not entirely successful indictment of stark organized racism, which, if you think about it, is pretty low-hanging fruit for someone with Lee's talents.

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