BlacKkKlansman

Directed by critically acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee best known for the 1989 movie Do the Right Thing and 1992 biopic Malcolm X, BlacKkKlansman is a truly magnificent film elevated by Spike Lee’s unique voice that makes for a powerful and sometimes paradoxically entertaining cinematic experience. Based on a remarkably true story set in the late 1970s, the movie follows the newly-recruited police officer Ron Stallworth, played by the terrific John David Washington who is the son of Academy Award winner Denzel Washington, who was the first African American in the Colorado Springs Police Department and would embark on a unbelievable undercover investigation into the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Stallworth easily infiltrates the white supremacist organization by pretending to be a Caucasian racist interested in joining the KKK. Eventually, he enlists a white Jewish police officer named Flip Zimmerman, played by Emmy-nominated actor Adam Driver, to masquerade as Ron Stallworth in person meeting the local Ku Klux Klan leaders Walter and Felix along with their bumbling cohort Ivanhoe. While these rather unusual events take place, the real Stallworth begins to fall in love with a African American activist named Patrice who does not know that Stallworth is actually a police officer. Over time, Zimmerman increasingly becomes weary that he will be discovered as a cop by the rapidly radicalizing KKK. The organization hatches a plot to engage in violence against African Americans in order to start what they perceive as a holy race war to purify the United States. Within the film itself, Spike Lee cleverly makes political statements about the current state of American politics that clearly criticize President Trump. He is able to do this by juxtaposing the rhetoric of the KKK, especially David Duke, played by Topher Grace, who attempts to mainstream white supremacy, with the movie’s final sequence emotionally portraying the deadly Charlottesville, Virginia protests of August 2017 in which racism reared its ugly head and politicians appeared to look the other way. Lee also brilliantly incorporates a truly evocative cameo appearance of the musician and civil rights icon Harry Belafonte. Overall, I found it to be one of the most memorable films that incisively delves deep into the horrors of racism normalized by such hateful groups as the Ku Klux Klan, all the while providing a remarkably entertaining story that is so hard to believe.

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