BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer from Colorado, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan with the help of a white surrogate, who eventually becomes head of the local branch.

*Minor spoilers*

There’s a lot to say about this movie and yet I don’t think I’m going to go all in. I enjoyed it very much and found it very moving in places. It also made me laugh, shake my head, feel disgusted – basically most of the emotions you would associate with a Spike Lee movie.

The narrative focuses on Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), a black cop who, with the help of his team, manages to infiltrate the KKK. While he charms a number of organisation members over the telephone, he has an obvious issue when it comes to meeting them face-to-face. Enter Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) then, Ron’s Jewish (and white) body double.

Will Flip be able to keep his end up in person, while Ron cons KKK founder David Duke (Topher Grace) over the phone? And will he come to realise, as Ron warns him, that he has more stake in the game than he knows?

Given the pressure being piled on him by tightly wound Klansman Felix (Jasper Pääkkönen), who knows?

Meanwhile, Ron tries to romance the lovely activist Patrice (Laura Harrier) who doesn’t know who he really is, which is a bad scene given that she hates pigs. Having experienced more than her fair share of police brutality, she kind of has a point – can he persuade her that he’s one of the good guys, changing the system from the inside?

BKKK is very much a Spike Lee movie with some very clear Lee signatures. It pays homage in tone to some of the great blaxploitation movies and blends dark humour with even darker imagery. The final scenes splice truly frightening KKK rhetoric with real life terrorist footage – and it’s a hard pill to swallow. As it fucking should be.

Denzel‘s boy John is remarkable as Ron while Adam Driver is as dreamy as ever. He’s so tall I would like to climb him like my favourite childhood tree. Which might be missing the point a little. One of my favourite scenes is the one in which Flip muses how little he’s cared about his own heritage up until this point.

I also have to say that Pääkkönen, as the truly frightening Felix is a stand-out for me. He’s repugnant obviously but is played to perfection, a ticking time bomb of a character, hell bent on exposing Flip as Jewish and a cop to boot, something no other member of the Klan believes.

My Rating

4/5.

Black Panther

Black Panther (2018)

Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Angela Bassett, Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Forest Whitaker, Letitia Wright, Sterling K. Brown, Daniel Kaluuya, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke

IMDB Synopsis

T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T’Challa’s father’s mistake.

*Minor spoilers*

First off, I have no clue how I’m supposed to get all my thoughts about this film down coherently. I loved it. I loved it more than any other Marvel movie I’ve seen, that’s for sure.

While I watched, I had similar feelings to those I had while finally seeing Wonder Woman for the first time – it just blew me away.

So T’Challa (Boseman) finds himself freshly crowned King of Wakanda following the death of his father in Captain America: Civil War (at the hands of brain-washed super soldier Bucky Barnes). He’s a fine replacement with his feet firmly on the ground, which is surprising given all the adventures he’s been on recently with his new buddies.

The various friendly (and not so) factions of Wakanda are for the most part happy with this new appointment and they all plan to get on peacefully with life in the technologically advanced (and aesthetically mind-blowing) Wakanda.

Well, that would make for a very short and cheerful Marvel vehicle if that was that, so you’ll be relieved to note that there is a bad guy lurking on the outskirts, the mercenary Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis: 100% would bang). Klaue (CLAW!) has got hold of some cheeky Vibranium, the precious metal used to power the whole of Wakanda – and he’s looking to weaponise that shit. Backed by a small crew, Klaue is wreaking havoc much to the dismay of T’Challa and his council.

Pushed to do something about Klaue, particularly by buddy W’Kabi (Kaluuya) whose father was killed by this maniac, the new King rounds up his own team: the mighty General Okoye (Gurira) and spy/crush Nakia (Nyong’o). Teched up to the nines by T’Challa’s precocious sister Shiri (Black Museum‘s Letitia Wright) how can they fail? But there are obstacles along the way, guys – massive, stressful obstacles.

Will the rightful King overcome them, protect the throne, get the girl and above all, do the right thing by his people? I’d say get up THIS SECOND, go to your local picture house and find out for yourselves.

Black Panther is beautiful to look at obviously. The insanely advanced Wakanda is stunning, something to truly marvel at (lol) but it’s not just about the scale, it’s about the colours, the framing, the COSTUMING – the costuming is wonderful, authentic looking and practical. Once again I am reminded of the incredible achievements of the Wonder Woman costume department and it’s very moving to witness practical and attractive (yet not hyper-sexualised) armor worn by the women in battle.

Obviously I have to mention how female this film is, how equal rights and awesome it is that King T’Challa has his back covered by a bunch of women. How the General of his army is a woman and how the whole of Wakanda is powered by his genius younger sister. T’Challa is influenced by the ideals of his true love, a female spy and warrior, who’s first concern is to help those with less than they have themselves – even as he is offering her the world to stay by his side.

The cast in an unbelievable collection of talent, from Angela Fucking Basset to my favourite, Daniel ‘Tealeaf’ Kaluuya. I love the holy trinity of women too, they’re everything.

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And while Black Panther is not the first black superhero we’ve ever seen (uh hello? Blade?), on this scale with this cast it is awe-inspiring to witness. Though it shouldn’t be a big deal in 2018 that we’re finally getting a main-stream film with a predominantly black cast rooted in black culture and the black experience – it fucking is.

My Rating

5/5.