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There are several things BlacKkKlansman does well; being subtle isn't one of them. Indeed, you get hit with so much ugly racism (is there any other kind?) that I decided Spike Lee wanted white audiences to get a taste of what black people go through consistently. You think this was hard to take? Imagine living it. A real-life blaxploitation story, undercover cop Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) manages to infiltrate the KKK (with the help of the always dependable Adam Driver), which leads to much absurdity. Racism IS absurd, and at no point does the film not think that, but because it's as real today as it was in the early 70s, it's not an absurdity you want to laugh at. Strong performances and atmosphere, and certainly a film for out times, but the lack of subtlety does give me pause. Not to say Lee's other films aren't rife with racially charged content - that's very much his thing - but shout outs to the future (our present) are way too on the nose, and the final moments are exploitative in a way that's effective, but still had me wondering if he was trying to shout to the people way in the back who still hadn't gotten it. I don't want to use the word propaganda, because I believe in the film's message, but it is certainly in service of that message more than anything else. And yet, there are real moments of self-awareness too, which is where the film's subtleties may be hidden.
What an intense movie this has become. When I was in America in 2017 I noticed how much racism there is in every day life in the USA. I can only hope that this movie can change the world for the better.
Besides the heavy topic, the movie also offers beautiful choreography, great music and enough fun and jokes.
You know that feeling you get when you watch political satire (Daily Show and all its offshoots, the works of Armando Iannucci, etc.) and you laugh really hard but then regret it because it still represents a painful reality? If you like that feeling, you will enjoy this movie.
If not, you will prolly call this film "heavy-handed," "too slow," or some other complaint that is honest and true but still misses the point that maybe it just wasn't for you.
To those of us that are long-time Spike fans: This is his best non-documentary film since Inside Man (for me it is better than Inside Man) and you will see all of the things that you love Spike for and many of the things that you criticize Spike for. It isn't God-tier Spike, but it is second-tier Spike and that is still good enough for me.
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In 5 official lists
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This movie ranks #12 in Rotten Tomatoes's Top 100 Movies of All Time
This movie ranks #59 in Cannes Film Festival - Grand Prix
This movie ranks #516 in TSPDT's 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
This movie ranks #550 in Academy Award - Best Picture Nominees
This movie ranks #992 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die