BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman

2018, R, 135 min. Directed by Spike Lee. Starring John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Ryan Eggold, Paul Walter Hauser, Michael Buscemi, Corey Hawkins, Harry Belafonte, Alec Baldwin.

REVIEWED By Richard Whittaker, Fri., Aug. 10, 2018

There are some stories that are so absurd that they have to be true, like the black cop who joined the Ku Klux Klan. In 1979, Ron Stallworth of the Colorado Springs Police Department called the KKK and asked if he could join, and they said yes. Of course, infiltrating a violent racist group is a bit tough when you're African-American, so the CSPD recruited a white officer to attend meetings in person, and pretend to be white Ron Stallworth, while the real Ron Stallworth became the voice at the end of the phone.

Spike Lee co-writing and directing a story where the cops are the good guys may seem like a change in direction for one of America's most political filmmakers, but this is pure Lee, at times both scathingly satirical and trenchantly earnest. As the real Ron, Ballers star and former football player Washington catches all the facets of being a black undercover cop in the Seventies – while he's pretending to be white Ron, he's also running surveillance on the campus black consciousness groups, and in a relationship with one of that group's leading lights, Patrice Dumas (Harrier). Not that this is some one-dimensional tale of Stallworth's political awakening: Instead, he is the voice for redirecting the power of the police against the real threat, and his friendship with "white Ron," aka Flip Zimmerman (Driver at his twitchy best), never lets go of the fact that it's the Jewish detective whose life is really on the line in every one of those Klan meetings.

But for all its amazing high points (and this satirically minded takedown of the ludicrousness of the American racist right has many of those) BlacKkKlansman also shows Lee at his weakest. The slight running time drags, a sensation not helped by Terence Blanchard's underwhelming score. That's a tragedy, considering how much he helped build the tempo of Lee's last narrative feature, 2015's equally scattershot but much more successful Chi-Raq.

And it's not a question of Lee dropping the narrative in favor of moments of polemic – in fact, Harry Belafonte's recitation of the testimony of a lynching survivor is one of the most powerful moments. Rather, it's when he falls into his adoration of classic Hollywood stylings – such as an earlier, equally polemical scene with Corey Hawkins as Kwame Ture, surrounded by floating heads – the BlackKkKlansman seems rudderless (the heavy-handed use of an oddly overdubbed clip from Gone With the Wind is similarly baffling, especially when followed by a hysterical sequence with Baldwin as an old-school, buzz-cut racist trying to record a recruitment film).

As a director of actors, Lee is still one of the best in the business, as proven in scenes like the locker room banter between Stallworth, Zimmerman, and Buscemi in a cameo role as Flip's old partner Jimmy – sequences that reinforce the real Ron's belief that, yes, the system can be changed from within. Similarly, the real Ron's interactions with the real David Duke (Grace playing the Grand Wizard as a chest-puffing middle manager) are glorious comedy with an edge. Yet there's a sneaking suspicion that Stallworth's life deserves a better retelling (doubly frustrating, since Lee's track record this century as a documentarian is much more reliable than his narrative work). Much like late-era Steven Spielberg, Lee has become a master director who has forgotten how to tell a story.

Showtimes

Sat., Aug. 18

10:20am, 12:55, 4:10, 7:25, 10:45

Sun., Aug. 19

10:30am, 12:55, 4:35, 7:50, 11:05

Mon., Aug. 20

10:30am, 12:45, 4:15, 7:40, 10:55

Tue., Aug. 21

10:30am, 12:45, 4:15, 7:30, 10:45

Wed., Aug. 22

10:30am, 12:45, 4:15, 7:30, 10:45

Thu., Aug. 23

10:35am, 12:45, 4:15, 7:30, 10:45

Sat., Aug. 18

12:15, 4:10, 7:55, 9:30

Sun., Aug. 19

12:20, 4:10, 7:45, 10:20

Mon., Aug. 20

12:45, 4:45, 7:30, 10:50

Tue., Aug. 21

4:15, 7:50, 10:30
AFA 12:45

Wed., Aug. 22

1:00, 4:20, 7:40, 11:00

Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane

5701 W. Slaughter, 512/861-7060, drafthouse.com/austin/theater/slaughter-lane

Showtimes at this venue are subject to frequent change. Please confirm daily times by phone or website.

Sat., Aug. 18

11:20am, 3:10, 6:25, 9:50

Sun., Aug. 19

11:30am, 2:45, 6:00, 9:20

Mon., Aug. 20

12:30, 3:45, 7:00, 10:15

Tue., Aug. 21

3:45, 7:00, 10:20
AFA 12:30

Wed., Aug. 22

12:35, 3:50, 7:05, 10:20

Sat., Aug. 18

12:15, 3:35, 6:50, 10:15

Sun., Aug. 19

11:20am, 3:00, 6:20, 9:45

Mon., Aug. 20

12:00, 3:25, 6:50, 10:15

Tue., Aug. 21

3:50, 6:25, 10:25
AFA 12:30

Wed., Aug. 22

12:20, 2:40, 6:00, 9:30

Alamo Drafthouse Village

2700 W. Anderson, 512/861-7030, drafthouse.com

Tuesday matinee Baby Day shows (first show of the day) are intended for parents and their children younger than 6. Showtimes at this venue are subject to frequent change. Please confirm daily times by phone or website.

Sat., Aug. 18

12:30, 3:05, 6:30, 9:50

Sun., Aug. 19

12:30, 3:05, 6:30, 9:50

Mon., Aug. 20

12:30, 3:05, 6:30, 9:50

Tue., Aug. 21

3:40, 7:00, 9:30
AFA 12:00

Wed., Aug. 22

12:30, 3:05, 6:30, 9:50

Thu., Aug. 23

12:00, 3:40, 7:00, 9:30

Arbor Cinema @ Great Hills

9828 Great Hills Trail, 512/231-9742

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Sat., Aug. 18

CC/DVS 12:10, 3:20, 6:40, 9:45

Sun., Aug. 19

CC/DVS 12:10, 3:20, 6:40, 9:45

Mon., Aug. 20

CC/DVS 12:10, 3:20, 6:40, 9:45

Tue., Aug. 21

CC/DVS 12:10, 3:20, 6:40, 9:45

Wed., Aug. 22

CC/DVS 12:10, 3:20, 6:40, 9:45

Thu., Aug. 23

CC/DVS 12:10, 3:20, 6:40, 9:45

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 South Capital of Texas Hwy, 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Sat., Aug. 18

12:40, 3:50, 7:00, 10:10
CC/DVS 12:40, 3:50, 7:00, 10:10

Sun., Aug. 19

12:40, 3:50, 7:00
CC/DVS 12:40, 3:50, 7:00

Mon., Aug. 20

12:40, 3:50, 7:00
CC/DVS 12:40, 3:50, 7:00

Tue., Aug. 21

12:40, 3:50, 7:00
CC/DVS 12:40, 3:50, 7:00

Wed., Aug. 22

12:40, 3:50, 7:00
CC/DVS 12:40, 3:50, 7:00

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Sat., Aug. 18

digital 12:50, 4:00, 7:15, 10:25
digital, luxury lounger 12:50, 4:00, 7:15, 10:25

Sun., Aug. 19

digital 12:50, 4:00, 7:15, 10:25
digital, luxury lounger 12:50, 4:00, 7:15, 10:25

Mon., Aug. 20

digital 12:50, 4:00, 7:15, 10:25
digital, luxury lounger 12:50, 4:00, 7:15, 10:25

Tue., Aug. 21

digital 12:50, 4:00, 7:15, 10:25
digital, luxury lounger 12:50, 4:00, 7:15, 10:25

Wed., Aug. 22

digital 12:50, 4:00, 7:15, 10:25
digital, luxury lounger 12:50, 4:00, 7:15, 10:25

Cinemark Cedar Park

1335 E. Whitestone, Cedar Park, 800/326-3264

Call theatre for complete list of movies and showtimes.

Sat., Aug. 18

digital 11:40am, 3:20, 6:30, 9:50

Sun., Aug. 19

digital 11:40am, 3:20, 6:30, 9:50

Mon., Aug. 20

digital 11:40am, 3:20, 6:30, 9:50

Tue., Aug. 21

digital 11:40am, 3:20, 6:30, 9:50

Wed., Aug. 22

digital 11:40am, 3:20, 6:30, 9:50

Thu., Aug. 23

digital 11:40am, 3:20, 6:30, 9:50

Sat., Aug. 18

digital 12:00, 3:15, 6:30, 9:55
digital, luxury lounger 12:00, 3:15, 6:30, 9:55

Sun., Aug. 19

digital 12:00, 3:15, 6:30, 9:55
digital, luxury lounger 12:00, 3:15, 6:30, 9:55

Mon., Aug. 20

digital 12:00, 3:15, 6:30, 9:55
digital, luxury lounger 12:00, 3:15, 6:30, 9:55

Tue., Aug. 21

digital 12:00, 3:15, 6:30, 9:55
digital, luxury lounger 12:00, 3:15, 6:30, 9:55

Wed., Aug. 22

digital 12:00, 3:15, 6:30, 9:55
digital, luxury lounger 12:00, 3:15, 6:30, 9:55

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Sat., Aug. 18

digital 12:25, 3:55, 7:10, 10:25
digital, luxury lounger 12:25, 3:55, 7:10, 10:25

Sun., Aug. 19

digital 12:25, 3:55, 7:10, 10:25
digital, luxury lounger 12:25, 3:55, 7:10, 10:25

Mon., Aug. 20

digital 12:25, 3:55, 7:10, 10:25
digital, luxury lounger 12:25, 3:55, 7:10, 10:25

Tue., Aug. 21

digital 12:25, 3:55, 7:10, 10:25
digital, luxury lounger 12:25, 3:55, 7:10, 10:25

Wed., Aug. 22

digital 12:25, 3:55, 7:10, 10:25
digital, luxury lounger 12:25, 3:55, 7:10, 10:25

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S. I-35, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Sat., Aug. 18

digital 10:00am, 1:00, 4:00, 7:00, 10:05
digital, luxury lounger 10:00am, 1:00, 4:00, 7:00, 10:05

Sun., Aug. 19

digital 10:00am, 1:00, 4:00, 7:00, 10:05
digital, luxury lounger 10:00am, 1:00, 4:00, 7:00, 10:05

Mon., Aug. 20

digital 10:00am, 1:00, 4:00, 7:00, 10:05
digital, luxury lounger 10:00am, 1:00, 4:00, 7:00, 10:05

Tue., Aug. 21

digital 10:00am, 1:00, 4:00, 7:00, 10:05
digital, luxury lounger 10:00am, 1:00, 4:00, 7:00, 10:05

Wed., Aug. 22

digital 10:00am, 1:00, 4:00, 7:00, 10:05
digital, luxury lounger 10:00am, 1:00, 4:00, 7:00, 10:05

Cinemark Stone Hill Town Center

18820 Hilltop Commercial Dr., 512/251-0938, www.cinemark.com

Sat., Aug. 18

digital 12:00, 3:05, 6:10, 9:10

Sun., Aug. 19

digital 12:00, 3:05, 6:10, 9:10

Tue., Aug. 21

digital 12:20, 4:00, 8:00

Wed., Aug. 22

digital 12:20, 4:00, 8:00

Thu., Aug. 23

digital 12:20, 4:00, 8:00

Galaxy Highland 10

6700 Middle Fiskville, 512/467-7305, www.galaxytheatres.com

No one under 18 will be allowed in the theatre on Friday or Saturday after 7pm without an adult.

Sat., Aug. 18

ClosedCapDescListenHINO PASS 12:30, 3:45, 7:00, 10:00, 11:45

Sun., Aug. 19

ClosedCapDescListenHINO PASS 12:30, 3:45, 7:00, 10:00

Mon., Aug. 20

ClosedCapDescListenHINO PASS 12:30, 3:45, 7:00, 10:00

Tue., Aug. 21

ClosedCapDescListenHINO PASS 12:30, 3:45, 7:00, 10:00

Wed., Aug. 22

ClosedCapDescListenHINO PASS 12:30, 3:45, 7:00, 10:00

Thu., Aug. 23

ClosedCapDescListenHINO PASS 12:30, 3:45, 7:00, 10:00

Metropolitan

901 Little Texas, 512/447-0101

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Sat., Aug. 18

CC/DVS 12:05, 3:20, 6:30, 9:40

Sun., Aug. 19

CC/DVS 12:05, 3:20, 6:30, 9:40

Mon., Aug. 20

CC/DVS 12:05, 3:20, 6:30, 9:40

Tue., Aug. 21

CC/DVS 12:05, 3:20, 6:30, 9:40

Wed., Aug. 22

CC/DVS 12:05, 3:20, 6:30, 9:40

Thu., Aug. 23

CC/DVS 12:05, 3:20, 6:30, 9:40

Schulman Theatres Lost Pines 8

1600 Chestnut St, Bastrop, 512/321-0123, www.schulmantheatres.com

Sat., Aug. 18

10:30am, 2:00, 6:20, 9:50

Sun., Aug. 19

10:30am, 2:00, 6:20, 9:50

Mon., Aug. 20

10:30am, 2:00, 6:20, 9:50

Tue., Aug. 21

10:30am, 2:00, 6:20, 9:50

Wed., Aug. 22

10:30am, 2:00, 6:20, 9:50

Sky Cinemas

13201 US-290, 512/457-0700, www.skycinemas.com

Sat., Aug. 18

10:50am, 12:15, 4:10, 6:25, 9:30

Sun., Aug. 19

10:50am, 12:10, 3:10, 6:10, 9:10

Mon., Aug. 20

10:50am, 12:10, 3:10, 6:10, 9:10

Tue., Aug. 21

10:50am, 12:10, 3:10, 6:10, 9:10

Wed., Aug. 22

10:50am, 12:10, 3:10, 6:10, 9:10

Thu., Aug. 23

10:50am, 12:10, 3:10, 6:10, 9:10

Violet Crown Cinema

434 W. Second, 512/495-9600, www.violetcrowncinema.com

Four-hour parking validation in attached garage with ticket purchase. Reserved seating; bar and cafe on-site.

Sat., Aug. 18

10:50am, 1:35, 3:50, 5:00, 7:00, 8:40, 9:50

Sun., Aug. 19

11:40am, 3:10, 4:35, 6:30, 7:25, 9:20, 10:10

Mon., Aug. 20

11:15am, 1:05, 2:50, 4:15, 6:00, 8:50, 9:50

Tue., Aug. 21

11:15am, 1:05, 2:50, 4:15, 6:00, 7:00, 8:50, 9:50

Wed., Aug. 22

11:15am, 1:05, 2:50, 4:15, 6:00, 7:00, 8:50, 9:50

Thu., Aug. 23

11:15am, 1:05, 2:50, 4:15, 6:00, 7:00, 8:50, 9:50

Westgate 11

4477 S. Lamar, 512/899-2717

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Sat., Aug. 18

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, 9:00

Sun., Aug. 19

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, 9:00

Mon., Aug. 20

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, 9:00

Tue., Aug. 21

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, 9:00

Wed., Aug. 22

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, 9:00

Thu., Aug. 23

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, 9:00

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee, John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Ryan Eggold, Paul Walter Hauser, Michael Buscemi, Corey Hawkins, Harry Belafonte, Alec Baldwin

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