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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

This Joint Is Jumping

As a filmmaker, Spike Lee has disappointed me as often as he has excited me. But he has never failed to educate me. I loved Lee's feature debut, "She's Gotta Have It". "Do The Right Thing" has earned a place as a modern-day classic, though it took a re-watch for me to fully appreciate it. I also enjoyed "Malcolm X" and "Inside Man", though Denzel Washington's charisma may be more responsible for that than Lee's writing and directing. Lee's first documentary -"4 Little Girls" - is in a class all its own.

"BlacKkKlansman" strikes me as Lee's pitch-perfect response to the ubiquitous racial dog whistles the tweeter-in-chief enjoys blowing. Based on Ron Stallworth's eponymous 2014 memoir, Lee's latest film is not subtle. But with Agent Orange prattling on about "... good people on both sides …" as neo-Nazis and white supremacists proudly wave the Confederate flag, who needs subtlety or nuance? As Woody Allen once quipped "Op-eds in the NY Times are nice, but with neo-Nazis, I prefer baseball bats." Apologies to Mahatma, Martin, and any reader who identifies as a pacifist.

I don't know if the scenes in "BlacKkKlansman" portraying the toxic David Duke - brilliantly played by Topher Grace - are at all authentic. I also don't care. Lee's film treatment of that smarmy tumor is priceless.


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