BlacKkKlansman ★★★

One might say mainstream culture has finally caught up with Spike Lee's once-extreme obsession with race - and the fact that he's making a film about 2018 is very obvious here, even beyond the Charlottesville coda (he even toys with the latent parallels, e.g. when David Duke struggles to find the right words for what he wants the KKK to achieve: to make America "aware of its - its - its greatness again"). The one good thing about social media is that it no longer seems implausible to depict extremists as extremely stupid, though it does get in the way of dramatic tension - which is surprisingly weak, given the scale and audacity of the central deception, then again maybe it really happened that way (the emphasis on intersectionality, viz. that the racists are also homophobes and Holocaust deniers, also seems a bit cartoonish, but is also saved by the 'true story' gambit). The filmmaking has sweep and verve, as usual, but the message seems a bit muddled: "You can't change things from the inside. It's a racist system," says the young radical, and the film doesn't show her changing her mind about this - there's no suggestion that she's wrong in general - yet in fact the entire plot is about changing things from the inside (and finding a lot of support; even the one racist cop is brought down, rather too optimistically). Also, since it goes out of its way to implicate Cinema so conspicuously, can I just point out (a) that Tarzan wasn't some imperialist, he grew up in the jungle and had as much right to be there ("lily-white ass" notwithstanding) as the natives; and (b) that I don't think cross-cutting means what Spike Lee thinks it means.