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Old 08-13-2018, 03:50 PM   #31
Thorpesaurous
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Default Re: Spike Lee's new movie "BlacKkKlansman" in Theatres Today...

Saw this Saturday early afternoon. I go see most of Spike Lee's stuff. I find his stuff fascinating, because almost all of it is interesting and generally well done, and he has a distinct style, and a distinct point of view in telling a story, but he also almost always has some fatal flaw in his movies where I have the damndest time telling people if it's good or not. Usually my feeling is it's good, but if you hated it because this or that got to you, I really wouldn't argue it.

Oddly, I would argue his two best movies are 25th Hour and Inside Man, which are also probably two of his least racially divided flicks, which probably means something. And that's not counting his documentaries, which he is among the best working documentarians around, which is unusual for a guy who's done so much narrative work, let alone writing of his own. His Michael Jackson Doc that focused almost exclusively on the Off The Wall Album that I think aired only on Showtime was one of the best things I saw all last year.

Anyway, Part of my particular interest in this was that it felt like it had more sense of humor than some of his more recent stuff, which I usually like from him. And it does. It again though, has some serious flaws. It has some heavy handed Trump references, that I'm afraid will be taken with too much venom by that side. There's a couple small sarcastic snips, in my opinion well within reason for an artistic endeavor.
{Which I admittedly lean to the right, although am not even close to a Trump zealot, even though I agree with many of his more divisive policy ideas, like the wall building, and his aggressive foreign policy stuff, but he often sounds like a dope, with little tact, and almost no diplomacy. I like how it worked in North Korea, which I'm not sure would've happened any other way. I have much more doubt about the trade war with China.}

My bigger issues, his style is wearing in a lot of ways in a flick like this. It's all over the place in tone. There are moments when this feels like it could've be and Ocean's 11 caper flick. There's moments when it feels like it could be an expanded SNL flick, Tim Meadows The Ladies Man. It bumps up against hokey exploitation movies, if for no other reason than the outrageous costume design and the afros. Some of the dialogue comes off as hokey, with the Brother and Sister stuff. In different Hands, this could've been Eddie Griffin in Undercover Brother.

None of those things are fatal in their own right. But when they're bumped up against graphic descriptions of racist activity, it just feels all over the place. And visually he does some heavy stuff too. A lot of it is shot with extreme close up. Too close to me. There's some heavy super fast blur cuts going close to close face shots. And there's a distinct focus on a lot of black faces, especially in one interesting sequence. That heavy handedness comes off oddly though when it's abutted by some of the other stuff. I felt like the connection to current events he pulls with some cuts to raw footage is really powerful, and very well done, even though it's a little manipulative to the audience. He also does some stylistic stuff where characters will be talking about topics, like movies of the time, and he'll pop up some of those pop images on the screen, which I thought was a really nice effect. It gave a sense of the popular image of black people at the time. It pushes your mind back to that, rather than a current image the audience may be holding in their mind.

There is a really great piece of directing at one point where he edits back and fourth between a speech David Duke is giving, and a speech by a character played by Harry Belafonte about an old incident he witnessed as a kid. It runs a good amount of time, and the pacing of the back and fourth is excellent. It's the kind of sequence that makes me go see Spike's stuff even though I know I'm going to find something to bitch about.
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Old 08-13-2018, 03:52 PM   #32
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Default Re: Spike Lee's new movie "BlacKkKlansman" in Theatres Today...

In addition to feeling like it bounces all over in terms of tone, it's got a few narrative issues too. Right off the bat, I'd like to know more about how true this story is, because the way the thing starts in this, Ron (the black cop), feeling a little underused, makes a surreptitious call to the KKK to a number he finds in a newspaper. Once that happens and they decide to pursue an investigation, obviously he can't go undercover, so they get a white detective (who happens to be Jewish), Adam Driver, to be the man on the street. At that point, why they don't just have driver handle the phone conversations, makes no sense at all. Ron had made one phone call, but they act as if Driver's character Flip now has to keep track off all the things Ron says on the phone. It's seems absurd. There's no reason Flip couldn't have taken over completely at that point. It's like a narrative pin in the balloon.

Also a Spike thing, there are long sequences where it feels like you're sitting in a class. Long dialogue sequences where characters are speaking to each other, but it almost feels like they're talking to the audience. Often heavy handed, and not something that always bothers me, but because of the variation in tone, sometimes stuck out like a sore thumb.

One other thing I noticed, is that it almost feels like he got second call on casting across the board. I wasn't thrilled with Denzel's kid's performance. It was solid, but I felt like it could've been more. Maybe that was his first choice considering his relationship with his father. But the jump from hokeyness too intensity may have been as much his choice as an actor, as it was Spikes. It feels to me like someone else could've pulled off something different and drastically changed the movie. It just feels like in a different time, this goes to Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, or Anthony Mackie. All of whom I know are busy, but would've made time to do a Spike Movie of this type of content. Again, maybe I'm wrong and he did want John David Washington. But I combine that with a few other choices. None of the big KKK guys are played by a real heavyweight. The psycho is a good psycho character guy, but the other leader could've had some weight. Topher Grace was really good as David Duke, but the character is written as a foil to being tricked, which is sort of his go to. And Driver is excellent as Flip, but maybe it's my relationship with him in Logan Lucky that makes me feel like he's playing that caper role.

There are a couple other good character actors doing their thing here. Police chiefy police chief. Scumbag #1 as scummy cop. Retarded backwoods guy as KKK mascot. There's some decent stuff here.

But there are two castings in particular that stuck in my craw. One was Steve Buscemi's brother as Steve Buscemi as old undercover tech master cop. It's confusing. And if you've seen enough Spike stuff, you can't convince me this role wasn't offered to Steve, but more importantly this role was written for John Turturro.

And the second big one. Black Student Union leader / Ron's girlfriend, a relationship that is not fleshed out well and while is pretty good, it's beginning is a rough start, I would bet my lunch was written for Tessa Thompson or Zoe Kravitz. The girl who plays her, Laura Harrier, who has about a half dozen credits to her name, does some pretty good work with what she's given (again, all over the place in tone, and that hits more with the black characters to me), and is absolutely gorgeous, just feels like she's doing a character I've heard other people do better.



Generally, another experience I'm glad I had, but I'm not sure I would advise just anyone else to see. The Spike thing it kind of reminds me of is Bamboozled, which had similar heavy tones spread within this weird almost overtly comic movie. This wasn't as comedic as that, but it felt in spots like a genre flick, like a caper, with some comedy, but with these punches of heavy handed tone.
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Old 08-13-2018, 05:05 PM   #33
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Default Re: Spike Lee's new movie "BlacKkKlansman" in Theatres Today...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thorpesaurous
Saw this Saturday early afternoon. I go see most of Spike Lee's stuff. I find his stuff fascinating, because almost all of it is interesting and generally well done, and he has a distinct style, and a distinct point of view in telling a story, but he also almost always has some fatal flaw in his movies where I have the damndest time telling people if it's good or not. Usually my feeling is it's good, but if you hated it because this or that got to you, I really wouldn't argue it.

Oddly, I would argue his two best movies are 25th Hour and Inside Man, which are also probably two of his least racially divided flicks, which probably means something. And that's not counting his documentaries, which he is among the best working documentarians around, which is unusual for a guy who's done so much narrative work, let alone writing of his own. His Michael Jackson Doc that focused almost exclusively on the Off The Wall Album that I think aired only on Showtime was one of the best things I saw all last year.

Anyway, Part of my particular interest in this was that it felt like it had more sense of humor than some of his more recent stuff, which I usually like from him. And it does. It again though, has some serious flaws. It has some heavy handed Trump references, that I'm afraid will be taken with too much venom by that side. There's a couple small sarcastic snips, in my opinion well within reason for an artistic endeavor.
{Which I admittedly lean to the right, although am not even close to a Trump zealot, even though I agree with many of his more divisive policy ideas, like the wall building, and his aggressive foreign policy stuff, but he often sounds like a dope, with little tact, and almost no diplomacy. I like how it worked in North Korea, which I'm not sure would've happened any other way. I have much more doubt about the trade war with China.}

My bigger issues, his style is wearing in a lot of ways in a flick like this. It's all over the place in tone. There are moments when this feels like it could've be and Ocean's 11 caper flick. There's moments when it feels like it could be an expanded SNL flick, Tim Meadows The Ladies Man. It bumps up against hokey exploitation movies, if for no other reason than the outrageous costume design and the afros. Some of the dialogue comes off as hokey, with the Brother and Sister stuff. In different Hands, this could've been Eddie Griffin in Undercover Brother.

None of those things are fatal in their own right. But when they're bumped up against graphic descriptions of racist activity, it just feels all over the place. And visually he does some heavy stuff too. A lot of it is shot with extreme close up. Too close to me. There's some heavy super fast blur cuts going close to close face shots. And there's a distinct focus on a lot of black faces, especially in one interesting sequence. That heavy handedness comes off oddly though when it's abutted by some of the other stuff. I felt like the connection to current events he pulls with some cuts to raw footage is really powerful, and very well done, even though it's a little manipulative to the audience. He also does some stylistic stuff where characters will be talking about topics, like movies of the time, and he'll pop up some of those pop images on the screen, which I thought was a really nice effect. It gave a sense of the popular image of black people at the time. It pushes your mind back to that, rather than a current image the audience may be holding in their mind.

There is a really great piece of directing at one point where he edits back and fourth between a speech David Duke is giving, and a speech by a character played by Harry Belafonte about an old incident he witnessed as a kid. It runs a good amount of time, and the pacing of the back and fourth is excellent. It's the kind of sequence that makes me go see Spike's stuff even though I know I'm going to find something to bitch about.
Nice, thought out review. Thank you for this.

Can I ask you where you rank Malcolm X? This is my #1 movie of all time.
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Old 08-13-2018, 05:25 PM   #34
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Default Re: Spike Lee's new movie "BlacKkKlansman" in Theatres Today...

Does anyone think Trump supporters are sophisticated enough to understand the ending?
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Old 08-13-2018, 05:27 PM   #35
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Default Re: Spike Lee's new movie "BlacKkKlansman" in Theatres Today...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dro
Nice, thought out review. Thank you for this.

Can I ask you where you rank Malcolm X? This is my #1 movie of all time.


That really probably is his best movie. It really straddles that narrative with the documentary stuff he's so so good at. And it is a total epic. And Denzel absolutely crushes the role.

I do love some of his movies that are less from a racial perspective though, because they really show some of his best storytelling traits when he's not trying to push that perspective as well. Like I said, 25th hour, Inside Man, and I should've included Summer of Sam, which is also flawed, but is a really great depiction of a particular time and place, NYC in the 70s, and that shines through as something he's great with in his Michael Jackson doc from a few years ago. And throw Clockers in there. Those are all solid to excellent movies that if you didn't tell anyone, know one would pick out they're Spike movies. Although they all have some of his visual cues. The hard pan cuts. The tilted cameras. The heavy close up one shots. 25th Hour I read an article on not too long ago about it's relationship with NYC, and how it's sort of an analogy for the sense of loss NYC had after 911, and rewatching with that in mind I can sort of feel it.

His more racially written stuff is almost a subgenre of his own work, that this would be included in obviously. Do The Right Thing is probably the best of that stuff. I haven't seen Chi-Raq. Bamboozled was a movie I really liked at that time, but I was young, and I know a lot of people hated it because of how extreme Damon Wayans played that character. None of the characters in this were similar, but I got a sense of a similar type of extreme characterization of them. Especially the two black leads, probably because they're stuck delivering a lot of the "big point" dialogue.
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Old 08-13-2018, 07:45 PM   #36
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Default Re: Spike Lee's new movie "BlacKkKlansman" in Theatres Today...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakers Legend#32
Does anyone think Trump supporters are sophisticated enough to understand the ending?

Just the idea of a Trump supporter watching this trash...

Also in addition to being the biggest cuckold on ISH you now sound like a pretentious artfag.
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Old 08-14-2018, 02:25 AM   #37
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Default Re: Spike Lee's new movie "BlacKkKlansman" in Theatres Today...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terahite
Just the idea of a Trump supporter watching this trash...

Also in addition to being the biggest cuckold on ISH you now sound like a pretentious artfag.

Trump supporters don't even know what sophisticated means.
YYYYEEEEEAAAAHHHHAAAAAWWWWW!
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