On Saturday a few friends and I headed to The Castle Cinema to see Spike Lee's latest feature length film, BlackKklansman. Now, before I go on I must embarrassingly admit that until BlackKklansman I'd never actually seen any of Lee's work, so whilst settling in and waiting for the film to begin I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I was not disappointed.
With the help of Terence Blanchard's funky yet chilling score, BlackKklansman tells the odd, hilarious and equally as disturbing story of Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), an African-American police officer from Colorado, who successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan. Based on true events, Stalloworth answers a newspaper ad for the KKK, posing on the phone as a white suprematist. Then, when face-to-face meetings are required he seeks the help of his white, Jewish colleague, Flip Zimmerman (perfected by Adam Driver) who poses as Stallworth and attends a series of weird and eye opening meetings with "The Organisation". As the partners in crime become more heavily involved with the terrorist group they must become one; Stallworth gathers information over the phone whilst Zimmerman turns up to meetings and even takes part in shooting practice and rituals in order to keep their cover.
Despite dark political undertones, its overall look is bright, colourful and highly stylised, intended to capture the essence of the 70s and emulate films Lee had watched growing up. In particular the disco scene stood out to me, when Stallworth and student activist Patrice Dumas (Laura Harrier) go out for drinks and dancing. I found myself captivated by the dazzling lights, funky music and bold, 70s style outfits... so many roll necks!
Another stand out scene was the student speech with Kwame Ture (Corey Hawkins) when the topic of race inequality is fully addressed, and so Stallworth's struggle for justice begins.
Throughout BlackKklansman Lee smoothly combines light-hearted humour with racial politics and some shocking scenes, some of which is real footage, ultimately leading you on an off-beat, emotional rollercoaster. Just as you relax into the film, an unexpected reference to Trump or the present day will jolt you back to reality, reminding you that the topics covered in this film are, unfortunately, not confined to history.
You'll laugh, you may want to cry, you'll most definitely enjoy the music and outfits, but also expect to feel sober and furious by the end of this film.
I rated BlackKklansman a 7/10 on IMDB