Director: Spike Lee
Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Michael Buscemi
Runtime: 2hr 15min
What It Is: A historical comedy crime drama about African-American Ron Stallworth (Washington), who, shortly after being hired on the force, sets up a ploy in which he and his cohorts attempt to infiltrate a branch of the Ku Klux Klan by deceiving them into thinking they have a new recruit (Driver) to add to their “organization.”
What We Think: Remember Moonlight? Remember Black Panther? Of course, you do. Both are culturally successful in their own right, held in high respects by different audiences (the A24 and the Marvel crowd, per se/respectively). Here in with this, I believe the appeal of artistic delight and joyful entertainment collides, assimilates, and then escalates into something entirely new and extraordinary. What we’re left with is an incredibly effective film in so many ways and on so many levels, it’s overwhelming to the point of near incomprehensibility to break down as a critic, but as a critic and lover of film, it’s a lovely endeavor I just could not wait to tackle after viewing. All in all, it’s technically well-rounded, is creative in its use of sound design (not to mention its simply badass theme, is the only way I could describe it), and has classically profound cinematography and visuals. The pacing is perfect and the writing is down to a T. The film as a whole weighs heavy in its (sadly unsurprising) prevalence to present day, yet it manages to serve as a flawless comedy. The characters and characterization are amazing, something that is tangible pretty much right off the bat with electrifying performances. Washington is engaging, energetic, and refreshing as our protagonist, a true go get ‘em kind of guy to really root and care for. This film is wise in its seemingly effortless ability to juggle both a delightful and intensely convincing and meaningful viewing. It’s one of those “why the hell is this so good” kind of movies. Why? Because Spike Lee knows exactly what he’s doing, that’s why.
Our Grade: A+, I’m not a huge follower of the Oscars, but if this film does not get a Best Picture nomination or even so much as a mention… we’re in trouble. Yeah, I said it. This is what I believe to be one of the most culturally, well-done, and important wide releases of the year. This left me and my fellow audience members were blown away, the impression it left on us practically palpable as soon as the end credits rolled. It reminds me of what’s so great and powerful about movies and why I enjoy being a critic and taking part in the art. It is a huge delight and should be watched by everyone. This film is generously honest yet manages to not feel heavy-handed or preachy, but rather have us be just as grounded and involved in the conversation as the characters are, something I haven’t seen on this caliber (namely considering the subject) in a long, long time. Watch this.