BlacKkKlansman ★★★★½

Under the Hood

Spike Lee knows the power of cinema better than anyone. If that isn’t obvious to you going into this seething slab of race relations history (and the manipulation of that history), it certainly will be by the end of the brilliantly edited “Birth of a Nation” sequence. This is the film that had to be made in the time that it needed to be made. What Lee manages to do in the guise of an undercover-cop Thriller is lay it all out there, raw feelings we feel, the subtle ways we excuse our own behavior, and fail to question it, the often unspoken arguments that exist outside of our social bubbles, and in particular the complicated relationship people have with law enforcement agencies. It’s a movie that is simple on the surface but more complicated in the small details. But let’s be honest, if it didn’t land that ending, would it be as impressive as it is? Drawing a through line from the past to the present, the film culminates in a montage of footage that we’ve likely all seen a dozen times by now, but it all feels different on the big screen, it somehow feels like failure in a way that cuts to the bone.  

I cried in an empty theater this morning by myself. Cinema can be very powerful, provided that it is seen. Hopefully people watch this over the weekend rather than “The Meg.”

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