7:00 PM, 29th September, 2018
BlackKklansman is a funky, upbeat, ‘70s-set buddy-cop flick – and a cunning jab by director Spike Lee at the current state of American race relations – inspired by the true story of Ron Stallworth. The first African-American police officer in the Colorado Springs Police Department, Stallworth is determined to make a name for himself and embarks on an outrageous undercover investigation: to infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan from the inside.
Lee is usually known for sobering, meditative and emotionally-charged films such as Malcolm X, Chi-Raq and Bamboozled – as well as tonight’s second feature, Do The Right Thing – and BlackKklansman marks an interesting change of pace for him. Supported by veteran comedian Jordan Peele in the producer’s chair, it is one that largely works.
John David Washington (son of Denzel) and Adam Driver have great chemistry in the leading roles, as they consistently outfox the menacing racist threat posed by the KKK’s Grand Wizard, David Duke (played by a wonderfully hammy Topher Grace).
The acclaimed end product is something like a “Starsky & Hutch” escapade with more pointed hoods and angry white men than a Harry Potter film. Groovy, baby!
9:45 PM, 29th September, 2018
It’s been nearly 30 years since Spike Lee’s explosive exploration of a community bubbling over with deep-seated racial tensions burst onto the scene. The film was provocative; not of riots, as some first feared, but of an urgent discussion about institutionalised racism, violent injustices, and the looming question: what is the right thing to do?
Set in a Brooklyn neighbourhood which is predominantly African-American, we follow Mookie (Lee), a delivery boy for a pizza shop run by Sal (Aiello) and his two sons. On the hottest day in summer, tensions flare with the heat, as a local named Buggin’ Out (Giancarlo Esposito) demands to know why Sal’s ‘wall of fame’ doesn’t feature any black heroes.
The many characters are likeable but flawed and often contradictory. The film doesn’t offer easy solutions to their struggles. The steadily escalating tension turns the film into a tragi-comedy, highlighting incidents of police brutality that are unfortunately still resonant. The minutiae and stereotypes may have changed, even Brooklyn has changed, but Do the Right Thing still feels just as urgent and vital today as it did at the time.