BlacKkKlansman ★★★½

An unapologetically groovy, sucks-you-in buddy cop movie about passing -- blacks passing as white, norms passing as radicals, cops passing as terrorists, Jews passing as WASPs, and violent racists passing as slick-as-owlshit politicians and NORAD engineers.

Cannes prize aside, it's not one of Lee's best films, but it's *definitely* his biggest crowd-pleaser in ages. Which is really bizarre when you consider that this is a film about the enduring insidiousness of white supremacy. Simultaneously broadly funny, nail-biting tense, and pedantic as hell -- a *very* strange combination. As pointedly angry and timely as Lee's voice has been in a while.

There's a lot to unpack, and not everything works. It's a messy, kludgy, awkwardly paced, tonally all-over-the-map smorgasbord of cinematic carbs. There's a climactic dolly down a hallway that reeks of both Blaxploitation badassery and Kubrickian horror, and it's easily one of the most spine-tingling shots in Lee's career. Yet for every heavenly shot like that, there's a shot or scene that clumsily runs on for far too long, or a bit of cross-cutting showiness that's more confusing than bold. A mixed bag formally, I guess is what I'm saying.

The most unexpected aspect of the film is how celebratory it is about black physicality: black faces, black hair, black bodies, black voices, and black movements on the dance floor. It feels like Spike Lee smuggled a Black Is Beautiful mash note *inside* his droll 1970s-set cops movie. Given that said movie spends a lot of time dunking on David Duke and the general doughy ridiculousness of most white supremacists, I guess that makes a kind of sense.