BlacKkKlansman ★★★★

Based on some fo’ real fo’ real shit.

There are a lot of very watchable movies out there containing great pacing, style and entertainment value. There are also a lot of socially important movies with a real story and message truly worthy of film exploration. By my estimation, the Venn diagram overlap between these types of movies is much smaller than it ought to be. Spike Lee is one of those directors who is able to pull off this mixture much better than most due to his creative directorial trademarks and his eternally strong sense of pacing and entertainment.

I've always felt that the vast majority of biopics or movies based around historical incidents often lack a sense of creative presentation or suffer from loads of predictability and cliche. If you take a look at the Oscar nominees for best actor, you are bound to see a portrayal from one of these movies nearly every year. I'd go as far as to say that in many cases, biopics take no narrative chances, limit perspective, and rely heavily on a lead actor/actress mimicking accents and mannerisms along a sure path to Oscarbait. BlacKkKlansman is very much the antithesis of this approach. Spike Lee takes an extremely interesting story that seems too outlandish to be true, embellishes the characters with plenty of personality and intrigue, allows comedy, drama, adventure, and crime to play out just as it would in fiction, and delivers a complete movie experience. Really what makes this film stand out so much is the strong use of comedy, despite the serious subject matter. The comedy is not used in a way to undermine the subject matter, but rather to endear us to the characters. It's always much more refreshing to get that out of this genre than a rote historical retelling, lacking soul or character.

I don't really feel the need to get into a ton of breakdown detail here, but John David Washington and Adam Driver were both well cast and engaging here. My only significant gripe with the film is that the romance subplot isn't particularly interesting and sometimes breaks the flow of the bigger story. Bonus points to the film for sticking it to Pres Oompa Loompa. My rating: 4 out of 5 // 8 out of 10 golden picks. -KF

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