Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is the first African-American policeman in Colorado Springs, Colorado who manages to start an investigation into the Klu Klux Klan via one very fortunate phone call. While he is able to develop the relationship on the phone, he’ll need a white guy for the in-person meetings, and in steps Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) and between the two of them (and a few others) they start rubbing shoulders with some extremely bigoted and dangerous people.
One of the things that I always find difficult with historical films about injustice is that I feel like things should have changed. In my lifetime, things should have changed. And Spike Lee was not going to let the audience pat themselves on the back and say that good on us for being in 2018 and things have changed. The KKK still exists and is active and mainstream, and Lee gives us one final punch in the guts right before the credits.
BlacKkKlansman was nominated for Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director – Motion Picture (Spike Lee), Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama (John David Washington) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Adam Driver)
What do you do when you know your time is about to run out? When your life is about to end and you have a day to sort out your affairs, deal with your life regrets and say your goodbyes? This is where Monty (Edward Norton) is. In high school, he started selling a bit of dope and by his early thirties when the police catch up with him, he is a high flyer. Facing seven years in jail, he must say goodbye to his father (Brian Cox), his girlfriend (Rosario Dawson) and his oldest friends (Barry Pepper and Philip Seymour Hoffman).
Why would you have any sympathy for a drug dealer? In all honesty, I didn’t. What I think Spike Lee has done in a really interesting fashion is to show how people deal with the choices of their near and dear; how others deal with losing someone in this way. And prison is an odd way to lose someone – they are not gone, but they are away. Prison for doing something bad over and over, for profiting from the pain of others. Yet people still hurt.
I don’t think it is the best film, but I think it is the ideas that it plants about people, relationships and life that make it fascinating.
Strike (Mekhi Phifer) is a drug dealer in Brooklyn, working in the projects. He suffers from chronic stomach pain, possibly an ulcer, possibly just stress from his situation. When his boss, Rodney (Delroy Lindo) tells him he needs to step up to stop a rival dealer taking his territory by killing him, Strike confides in his straight-laced brother. The dealer is killed, but it is not clear who the murderer is.
The film tells a great story, but since the gritty realism of The Wire, it does feel quite dated and almost a bit sanitized. But it is this and other films by Spike Lee that have allowed things like The Wire to be created.