Director: Spike Lee
Ron Stallworth, an African American police officer from Colorado Springs, CO, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan branch with the help of a Jewish surrogate who eventually becomes its leader. Based on actual events.
Lee has taken an off-putting subject matter and turned it into a very palatable film – Blackkklansman is easy to digest, for the most part. While some of us were jarred by the extreme tonal shifts – from dark comedy to heavy drama – and there was a call for Lee to choose a direction and stick with it, others were more content and thought that this approach provided some much needed balance to such a strong story. And although we were often left with lingering shots and speeches, it didn’t feel it’s 2hr and 16min runtime – But instead made for an enjoyable watch with a hard-hitting plot, a fantastic cast (lead by John David Washington) and amazing costuming.
What did everyone like / not like about it?
The dichotomy between the funny/absurd and serious/dangerous subject matter, left me rather uninvested overall. I enjoyed the costumes and music very much, and the two character leads were outstanding, but found some of the dialogue a little heavy handed. – Vicky
Visually, this film is fantastic. The wardrobe, props and sets are really enjoyable to watch. Add a soundtrack of soul and it’s a very pleasing film. I expected from the title and the surrounding hype to have themes of race and racism pelted out propaganda style for the entirety of the film. But in usual Spike Lee fashion, the themes are explored under his strange mix of laid back/clipped/sometimes-monotone-sometimes-aggressive vibe. Like films before it, Blackkklansman contrasts extreme racial beliefs on both sides – pointing out that inflexibility is rigid on both sides of the fence. Although some found it jarring to end the film with clips from the Charlottesville riots – I didn’t mind the stark reminder. It’s obviously an incredibly important issue for those suffering the real consequences of racism and the premise of this entire project. – Sally
It’s a slick, smooth film that’s very easy to watch – Spike Lee is back in his sleekest, most appealing mode, which we haven’t seen since maybe Inside Man. The film works very well as the broad comedy that it is for the most part, but naturally the subject matter means it inevitably has to ‘get real’ on occasion. The more dramatic, serious moments were too brief and glossed over, and left me wanting more of a scathing takedown. I had a good time with the film overall, but that’s about it. I was hoping for something with a bit more gravitas, and maybe my expectations let me down. – Liam
Whilst I did enjoy it and appreciated the actors abilities, I felt that the film as a whole was a bit confused with its genre. The trailer makes it look like a straight up comedy, however there are a few scenes and sentiments that are quite heavy and shot in a very stereotypical Spike Lee manner. These scenes were a stark contrast to an otherwise jovial film. Because of the content, having any comedy at all felt like it would water down the intention of the dramatic. Either be a comedy, or be a drama, not both. Although dramadies are fine, the drama here was far too heavy to mix with comedy. It also felt a bit on the nose, toward the end, blatantly showing that racism in America still exists today just as severely, but to me kind of came off a little bit condescending. - Lukas
Despite the moments where this film seemed to drag a little (a couple of the speeches), there wasn’t much for me to dislike here. It deals with an important subject matter and handles it rather well, in my opinion. The acting is great, the story intriguing and the visual elements of the 70’s make the film what it is – A thoroughly enjoyable watch (which feels hard to say given the subject matter and relevance of the story). - Mali
A film with a powerful message and a reminder of how unbelievable was the level of racism and its consequences in living memory. Enjoyed the film as a drama with just the right dose of black comedy – could’ve been overdone but not so. A long film and speech scenes seemed lengthy and restated the racism we already know existed and still exists though perhaps this was essential as a reminder. Characters all very believable, music was convincing without recognizable songs (even for me) except Prince at the end. – Eddy
Keywords used to describe this movie:
Comedic. True. Fun. Biographical. Racism. Entertaining. Obvious. Intentional. Bright. Aesthetic. Jovial. Confused. Genre-Splitting. Polarizing.
Would we recommend it to a friend?
Sure. I think most people will at least enjoy it.
What did you think of BlackKklansman? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
This is our last film club review for 2018 – But don’t worry, we’ll be back with more films and more reviews in 2019, so keep an eye out for what we’ll be watching next in early January!