BlacKkKlansman ★★★★½

BlacKkKlansman is the kind of movie that reminds me why I love movies in the first place. It's a medium designed to have an emotional affect, and I felt so many things during this movie that I wish I could feel in other movies (not because they're necessarily bad, but because it's so intrinsically hard to pull off). It works on pretty much every conceivable level; it's entertaining, funny, dramatic, well-acted, well-made, and all-around effective.

John David Washington, in this fantastic lead role, perfectly captures the attitude of somebody who feels conflicted between their personal beliefs and their job. There's a single shot, early on in the midst of a memorable scene at a subversive rally, that encapsulates everything that this character is. With a single, hesitant look around a crowd, I completely understand what this man believes, how he feels about it, and the time period he lives in.

If there's anyone I hope gets some recognition for this, it's certainly him, but I don't want to overlook ANY of the supporting cast. THEY'RE ALL FANTASTIC! I could devote a paragraph to each of them, but I want to focus on Jasper Pääkkönen, who plays the INSANELY racist and crazy klan member (one of them, at least). There are a lot of scenes or lines of dialogue from him that seem funny, and indeed they are most of the time. As the movie went on, it started to occur to me that, even though this is funny in the right context, it's also horrifying. This character is SO over-the-top that it almost can't be real, but I've heard enough stories to know that there are still people like this all over the place.

That's probably my biggest takeaway from this movie. This takes place in the 70s, but I know damn well that this is a movie about today. By showing us certain events and types of people (there are indeed numerous allusions to current events) that most of us would rather not think about or acknowledge, BlacKkKlansmen forces the audience to reckon with the fact that things aren't over yet. It might sound like a tired platitude, but this movie showed me how little things have changed in 40 years, in the long run at least.

I'm not particularly up-to-date on political affairs (partly because of my age, partly because I don't really care to invest myself in that environment), but this movie forced me to think about it. From the reviews I've read, I can tell that this movie is getting to a lot of people in a way that only Spike Lee can pull off. Spike Lee challenges and confronts the viewer, and asks them to be honest with themselves about how they feel, and with this movie I realize that I'm angry.

I don't want to sound like John Lennon or anything, but I'm angry at how much hatred and toxicity seems to surround everything. I know I'm not alone in saying that it can quite often make me feel really pessimistic, but that's why I think this movie is so successful. It confronted me and forced me to deal with my frustration, but it also made me smile and laugh a lot. There are scenes, one in particular, in which characters are just talking, and being themselves, and I can't get enough of that kind of stuff. Despite its heavy subject matter, this is, by its very nature, a movie about how one person can make a difference, and for once that didn't feel forced to me.

Its flaws are purely structural. There's a few plot points that are a bit hard to follow, the central romance takes a little while to get going, and there are a few shifts in tone that felt a bit jarring. Whatever. When it was all said and done, I had to ask myself if any of those things made the movie less effective, and I can honestly say that the answer is no. As I've said, BlacKkKlansman got to me, in both the positive and the negative, and I have to give massive props to that. I hope a lot of people go out to see this, because honestly we need something like this. We need something a little bit more confrontational and, strangely, non-cinematic. Although it's entertaining, this isn't escapist pablum by any stretch; I feel like everyone will react to this differently, and it might be the only way to keep moving forward. I'm so glad I went out to see this, and I can tell that this movie will genuinely stay with me.

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