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Westside Steve

Blackkklansman review

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R.                         135 min

Spike Lee is an interesting figure in American film. Since the late seventies Lee has made over 30 Films and in almost all of them, the race card is trump. (by the way that’s a euchre term not a political one) Oscar nominations don’t come out until January and the awards themselves in February but this is the season that the SAG Awards and the Golden Globes prompt folks to predict the nominees and one on almost every list is BLACKKKLANSMAN. At this point I don’t know that it will make the final cut but I’d like to get a head start on some of these best picture favorites early. 
Heads up, it’s more a political rant that it is a motion picture, but hey, it’s 2018 and the thmes, they are a-changing. We burst onto the scene in 77 with the highly controversial DO THE RIGHT THING which, even though it was rife with social commentary and stereotypes, seemed to me to attempt to find a balance between the two sides. That was then, this is now.
The film itself is adapted from the novel by Ron Stallworth, a personal memoir titled Black Klansman: Race Hate and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime. Yes, two separate words in the book title but we know how Lee loves to mess around with the language so he added the three K’s in the movie title.
Here John David Washington is Stallworth, a starry-eyed young cop doing his best the buck the racist powers-that-be in the Colorado Springs Police Department when an unlikely assignment drops into his lap. The brass want Stallworth to pose, on the telephone mind you, as a white redneck who wants to join the Klan. No idea why they would want the only black cop on the force to do this but wait, there’s more. As if that plan didn’t seem stupid enough one has to imagine that sooner or later a face-to-face meeting would be in order and for this purpose they selected Flip Zimmerman, who just happens to be the only Jewish cop on the force to go meet at the KKK outpost and attend the meetings. The purported reason for this infiltration is that there is a cross burning rumored to be in the planning stages. It’s never quite clear why the racist cops would care so much about this to set up a sting but eventually information leads to a plan to bomb a house full of black student union activists who have brought Stokely Carmichael to town to speak. Along the way Stallworth strikes up a relationship with Patrice (Laura Harrier) one of the leaders of the movement. 
Stallworth even has telephone conversations with grand wizard David Duke himself putting part of the stinger operation into movement, so the whole operation is even sillier when Duke comes to town and Stallworth is assigned as his personal bodyguard. I kid you not.
One reason the action suspense portion of the film falls short is that almost every one of the white antagonists are drooling morons and I could never believe they could pull off even the simplest plan.  It’s 2 hours and 15 minutes of the most outlandish cartoon characters we’ve see, but even if you get past that it’s not a very good film.

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