Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The First "BlacKkKlansman" Trailer Shows Spike Lee at His Most Urgent

Scene from BlacKkKlansman
There's a lot that's currently going on over at the Cannes Film Festival. Among the most noteworthy is the praise around director Spike Lee's latest BlacKkKlansman. He's a director whose praise has ebbed and flowed over the years, hitting a recent standstill with movies that haven't quite captured the zeitgeist. However, there's a good chance that his latest will in which two police officers go under cover to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). It's a film that promises to capture the heated race relations of modern America and possibly bring out a side of Lee that has made him a cinematic icon for over 30 years. The first trailer definitely helps to suggest that it's got a lot to say, and it's going to do so very angrily. 

I will admit that I'm not the leading expert on Lee's filmography, but there's been a lot that I have been charmed by. There's of course films like Malcolm X and The 25th Hour, which both capture frustration in perfectly distilled forms. I would even argue that his Netflix series She's Gotta Have It was a fascinating view of black identity in modern America. Even in the edges of that show, there was a sense that he was angry about current events. In that way, BlacKkKlansman is a film that's been building inside him since the 2016 presidential election - or possibly even longer. He's an overstated voice in pop culture, and it's about time that he releases a movie that captures his sentiments exactly.

As a rule of thumb, I try to leave politics out of The Oscar Buzz and judge the content solely on its merits and intentions. With that said, I do think films that tackle a modern sense of racism are fascinating to consider in a modern conversation. There are those like The Shape of Water that uses it in an abstract form. Those tend to be more acceptable than others, such as the recent work of Quentin Tarantino, but I do think that the general notion of Lee's latest has the promise to be prodding in a way that gets him attention. The name already recalls a central hatred that's been in America going back centuries. It's a bold name, and one can only imagine that it's going to raise a few eyebrows, hopefully even raise intellectual debates.

Check out the trailer below;

Looks really good. Here's the plot description according to IMDb:
Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer from Colorado, successfully managed to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan and became the head of the local chapter.
It's a bold plot for sure, but how will it play to mainstream audiences? Lee has always been divisive in that way, but the conversation around racism has brought out some strong emotions. With The Academy starting to become more diverse and nominating movies from a wider array of talent, there's an odd chance that this film could be as good as its word and leave a lasting impression. If not, it will be a fascinating chapter in a career that's been largely full of ambitions and stories that are aggressively unique. Only time will tell, but that first trailer really captures an urgency that is undeniable.  

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