Author Topic: BlacKkKlansman  (Read 609 times)

Teproc

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BlacKkKlansman
« on: August 20, 2018, 11:03:28 AM »
Starting this thread solely because I've seen it thrown around that Flip (Adam Driver's character) is among the Klansmen at the final burning in front of Ron's house.

That... makes very little sense to me ? And it seems to be up to interpretation in the first place, but I see nothing in Driver's performance (or in the writing) intimating that he is being won over by the KKK's rhetoric in any way, so I'm very puzzled by the people taking this away from the film.
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Will

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Re: BlacKkKlansman
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2018, 03:08:31 AM »
Starting this thread solely because I've seen it thrown around that Flip (Adam Driver's character) is among the Klansmen at the final burning in front of Ron's house.

That... makes very little sense to me ? And it seems to be up to interpretation in the first place, but I see nothing in Driver's performance (or in the writing) intimating that he is being won over by the KKK's rhetoric in any way, so I'm very puzzled by the people taking this away from the film.

Considering how lazy and unfocused the direction is, I wouldn't put it past Lee to make yet another dumb decision.



This is one of the worst films I have seen all year.

Leave it to the Trump era for Spike Lee to fictionalize a story then say, at the beginning, that it's true. Leave it to the Trump era for Lee to make the quintessential #BlueLivesMatter movie, complete with a police officer whitesplaining the possibility of a president backed by the KKK (all done without winking to the audience) and only one of the many officers on the force to be an outspoken racist. Leave it to the Trump era for critics to almost unanimously praise said movie without questioning these bizarre problems, making such excuses like "well OF COURSE Lee is heavy-handed - HE'S ALWAYS BEEN THAT WAY!!!"

I feel like maybe there's a sharp divide forming between me and critical consensus where the mostly straight white male portion of critics are, more or less, centrist/liberal/Democrat, while I'm becoming more and more Left-leaning (and, as Ocasio-Cortez shows, many more of us are soon becoming). There's just not enough reckoning with the police system here. Not to mention, Stallworth's work with Countelpro which singlehandedly ended up destroying the Black Panthers and other resistant groups as commented upon by Boots Riley in his twitter rant on the film. It's all very much simplified and safe and for what? So that it feels balanced towards the police in these trying times?

Yet, it's these same critics that call this movie provocative. Again, for what? Or for who? If it fails (and I mean, it REALLY fails) to reckon with the past in any significant way, what is actually being gained here? Racism is bad? The KKK is bad? The KKK is bad and still around? This is a children's film. Perhaps these messages are relevant, but the people who need this message most won't see the film.

That's what I believe is fundamentally bizarre/wrong when critics call this film provocative. What idea is the film presenting that is particularly provocative for the average liberal or left-leaning person? Because we are the ones seeing the film, not the conservatives. And let's say they did see this film - is forcing them to sit through the Charlottesville footage truly going to be enough? Or will they resist it as they do whenever they see/hear the same kind of news story on their television?

Anyway, Spike Lee has always been heavy-handed, but he used to make parables. Now he just makes sermons.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2018, 03:20:03 AM by Will »

Teproc

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Re: BlacKkKlansman
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2018, 04:15:28 AM »
If you're incensed by it, shouldn't that be proof enough that it is provocative ? Just not in the way you wanted it to be.

To clarify: I think Ron being a cop and the identity conflict inherent to that is what's interesting about the film. You ask what the point of the film is, because people know the KKK is bad (at least the people seeing this film), well I'd argue that's exactly it. You seem to think it's depicting the police too positively, which I can see (that particular scene is really bad), but I don't agree that it limits its criticism of the police to "one racist cop", unless you missed the last five minutes of the film.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2018, 04:25:12 AM by Teproc »
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Will

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Re: BlacKkKlansman
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2018, 03:51:50 PM »
If you're incensed by it, shouldn't that be proof enough that it is provocative ? Just not in the way you wanted it to be.

To clarify: I think Ron being a cop and the identity conflict inherent to that is what's interesting about the film. You ask what the point of the film is, because people know the KKK is bad (at least the people seeing this film), well I'd argue that's exactly it. You seem to think it's depicting the police too positively, which I can see (that particular scene is really bad), but I don't agree that it limits its criticism of the police to "one racist cop", unless you missed the last five minutes of the film.

The last five minutes of the film? Or the ending montage? Because if we're talking about the montage, that's all criticism of the KKK. If we're talking about the last five minutes aka the wrap-up (complete with a sting on that one racist cop by the rest of the department), then we're talking about a very lenient criticism rather than an indictment of full apathy. They stopped their investigation because they didn't see anything else that could be gained and while it is apathetic, it's not explored at all beyond that point. Furthermore, if you read up on the background of the film, many things come up as questionable, considering the fact that Ron Stallworth was part of Cointelpro (an organization that got away with imprisoning and murdering Black Panther members) BEFORE the incident in BLACKKKLANSMAN (also mostly fictional) took place. That part is never mentioned. It is wiped away from the narrative.

Teproc

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Re: BlacKkKlansman
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2018, 06:49:04 PM »
Yes, I did mean the last five minutes of the film itself, not the newsreel montage.

I generally do not care about historical accuracy in such things, and BlacKkKlansman never gave me the impression of being all that attached to it. I never take anything in film to be anything close to the historical record (including documentaries). I do understand that this is not how everyone sees it, however. I guess it comes down to wanting Spike Lee to have made a different film, which I suppose is your prerogative, but just because he didn't make that film doesn't mean that the film he did make is somehow a defense of white policemen. The sting you mention is the very definition of a hollow victory, an empty gesture that means nothing, and I think the film is pretty clear on that.

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Will

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Re: BlacKkKlansman
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2018, 01:15:59 AM »
Yes, I did mean the last five minutes of the film itself, not the newsreel montage.

I generally do not care about historical accuracy in such things, and BlacKkKlansman never gave me the impression of being all that attached to it. I never take anything in film to be anything close to the historical record (including documentaries). I do understand that this is not how everyone sees it, however. I guess it comes down to wanting Spike Lee to have made a different film, which I suppose is your prerogative, but just because he didn't make that film doesn't mean that the film he did make is somehow a defense of white policemen. The sting you mention is the very definition of a hollow victory, an empty gesture that means nothing, and I think the film is pretty clear on that.

Sure, but there's a difference, right?

There's a lot of narrative liberties taken for a film like THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, for instance, but that film is more or less a genre one, a melodramatic weepie wherein the changes that were made were to give the story more dramatic weight. The basic premise of the story is still the same, it's just been reshaped to be more moving.

Then you have something like BLACKKKLANSMAN which rewrites all of Ron Stallworth's story to make him look very much like a hero who was given an unfortunate situation whereas his actual life makes him far more sinister. This is compounded by the fact that Spike Lee presents this as a true story while making great pains to connect it to real life with the ending montage and his skirting around the issue that the police and the KKK have been moreso bedfellows than enemies for the majority of American history. This is made even uglier by the fact that Stallworth's history is public knowledge and that Lee is seen as a radical liberal so the stories he tells are given more weight than something like THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS. One story is changed to fit in more so with the genre it is part of, the other is changed in order to make a government institution look more moral.

TL;DR - What if Tarantino said INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS was a true story?

Teproc

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Re: BlacKkKlansman
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2018, 02:11:15 AM »
Well, you're assigning a motive to Lee here ("making a government institution look more moral") in a way that I would say is dubious: that this is how the result looks, sure, but I highly doubt Spike Lee sat down and thought "Cool story, but how can I make the police look better ?"...

IIRC, the way it's presented initially is that it's based upon "some fo' real shit", right ? That's not "This is a 100% historically accurate tale", right ? I guess you could say Lee should have used a different name for the main character because he changed the story significantly, I'd probably agree with that, but again, I don't think the film is really set up in a way that I would expect it to be exactly true to life. There is an argument to be made that because this story is not very well-known and because he does connect it to real life, there is a responsiblity there... we come back to the idea that you can expect exact historical truth from films, and I just don't think that's ever the case. A narrative film, by definition, doesn't adhere to the truth exactly, especially a film that wants to make clear political points. Admittedly, there is probably a limit to that type of reasoning, but I don't feel that BlacKkKlansman crosses it.

If Tarantino had done that with Inglourious Basterds, I dont really see how you could take it as anything else than a joke like the one in Fargo, so I'm not sure what the problem would have been there. It would have been misdirection more than anything else, I don't think these are comparable cases really.
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Will

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Re: BlacKkKlansman
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2018, 12:40:04 PM »
I just think when there's a long history of the government going lenient on the KKK but going hard on any black radical movements along with the long history of the police engaging in brutal violence on black people specifically, there is definitely more of an expectation for Lee to get it right than the actual result seen in the movie, especially in a movie that so desperately wants to connect this falsified history to events that transpired a year ago. Take out the ending montage and the movie would be a lot better because it's incongruent with the fictionalization of the rest of the story.

DarkeningHumour

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Re: BlacKkKlansman
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2018, 09:29:32 AM »
If the movie is a reaction to Trump it can also be seen as a reaction of some of the most radical elements of the left that are quite happy calling all cops pigs and defending racism against whites. I was happy to see that the police station wasn't going to be filled with racist monsters because then the movie would become blacks vs. cops and the KKK vs. everyone. I thought Lee was mostly even-handed, perhaps a bit too much so, and even though I too cringe at that scene. Think about the speech scene at the beginning where the guy rightly point out the injustices of the system, but also disseminates some very dangerous rhetoric, and you can see Lee rising above stark blacks and whites - pardon the pun.
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don s.

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Re: BlacKkKlansman
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2018, 07:21:59 PM »
racism against whites


I'm not sure where you live, but in the U.S., this isn't a thing.
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