Show & Tell: BlackKklansman


With an important election just a week away, in one of those happy accidents of film scheduling, we will be discussing a highly political movie on Tuesday night. The movie is BlacKkKlansman, the latest from Spike Lee.

You probably saw BlacKkKlansman earlier this year when it made a huge splash in wide release. But if you missed it, you really owe it to yourself to run to The Music Hall to see it. I’ve already seen the movie (which is an uncommon treat for me), and I think you should see it, not just because it’s important, but because it’s good.

Spike Lee is a filmmaker with a real gift for the art. He’s a master storyteller, including the instinct that tells him when he can indulge himself in overdoing his characterizations, his film technique, and his overt politicking. Some of the characters (mostly the white Klansmen) in BlacKkKlansman are caricatures of white attitudes and the intellectual capacity of racist bigots. It’s probably not as much fun for white audiences, but Spike knows which side his bread is buttered on.

One stunning aspect of the movie, which tells the story of Ron Stallworth, a black Colorado cop who infiltrates the KuKluxKlan in the 1970s (despite his obvious failure to satisfy at least one of their entry requirements), is that it’s based on a true story. It’s a gripping yarn, with excellent performances from John David Washington as Stallworth, Adam Driver as the white cop who has to stand in for Stallworth when he has to show up in person, and Laura Harrier as the black militant who strikes some sparks with the black cop.

There’s plenty of Oscar buzz around the film, its director, and its stars, so you’ll be getting a head start on the awards season.

The movie will make for a great discussion. And it also provides an excellent excuse for skipping New Hampshire’s perverse celebration of trick-or-treating on October 30. I’m sure you can eat all those fun-sized Snickers by yourself!

Our two discussions for November, The Wife on November 13 and Tea with the Dames on November 20, will be very woman-centric. The Wife is an early favorite for an Academy nod for Glenn Close as the undervalued wife of a famous writer. And as a lifelong fan of Maggie Smith (and the other stars as well), I’m already impatient for The Dames to get here.

I hope to see you there for BlacKkKlansman, which will show in The Historic Theater at 7:00 on Tuesday, October 30.

Paul Goodwin