On Monday (August 22), I had the chance to attend an exclusive screening of Spike Lee's thrilling new film BLACKkKLANSMAN, courtesy of MOBO, which was followed by a Q&A with the man himself at BFI Southbank. From a superb soundtrack to an incredible cast, check out my review of one of the most important film's of the year.
Traditionally, it is not our job to tell people which films to watch or avoid but let me start off by saying this; if you have interest in movies with political content, action, a degree of comical wit, and a multi-genre soundtrack, then BLACKkKLANSMAN is the film for you. Set in the late 1970’s, the story of Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington) unfolds as he sets his sights on becoming the first African-American detective in the Colorado Springs police department. Faced with numerous racial hurdles, he finally finds a case worth investigating. While reading a local newspaper, Ron inadvertently comes across an article advertising a vacancy for folks interested in joining the Ku Klux Klan.
Detective Stallworth intuitively decides to call the number using his real name whilst posing as a white man. This interesting contrast leads to a dangerously-thrilling journey where Stallworth partners up with fellow officer Flip Zimmerman (played by Adam Driver).
I know, you're probably thinking “How can a black man infiltrate the KKK?” I’ll let you find that answer out for yourself. Hey, I can’t give too much away but I can promise you will not be disappointed. I can share this though; if you're familiar with Spike Lee films, you can always expect an awesome soundtrack filled with gems and songs you'll want to Shazam. The impressive film score is led by jazz trumpeter, Terence Blanchard, who composes a 23-piece picture soundtrack which you can find on Spotify.
The infamous double dolly shot, also known as the “floating camera shot,” which is favourited by Spike Lee having been featured in many of his classic films, has left some feeling like he overuses the filming technique, but I personally say let the man live. It adds artistic visuals, character and I can confirm that it does make an appearance when you least expect it, leading to some of my favourite moments in the film.
Overall, I think BlacKkKlansman features moments of brilliance and standout performances from John David Washington (as Ron Stallworth), Jasper Pääkkönen (as Felix) and Laura Harrier (as Patrice). I think Spike Lee and Jordan Peele (producer) really captured the essence of a racially prejudice era and a black man trying to do the right thing by serving all as a police officer.
And after hearing Spike Lee talk at BFI Southbank, I left the venue feeling inspired and overwhelmed upon hearing more about the creative process behind bringing such a powerful story to the big screen.
I was moved by BlacKkKLANSMAN and the story truly echoes an intense social issue which past and present generations can relate to. I have no doubt that BlacKkKlansman will leave a lasting impression on all cinema goers.
BlacKkKlansman arrives in UK cinemas on August 24.
Words by: Kevin Maha