BlacKKKlansman (2018) Review

Director Spike Lee has always been a provocateur with his film output, Do the Right Thing, and Malcolm X being his most notable examples. So a movie with the name BlacKKKlansman, you’re bound to piss some people off. But the sad thing is, as off putting as the title may be, this is one of the most important films of the year, if not the decade.

Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is the first African-American to join the Colorado Springs Police Force. He joins a task force along with fellow officers Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) and Jimmy Creek (Michael Buscemi). While coming across an ad for Klan recruits in the paper, Stallworth decides to call them for shits and giggles, and actually gets a meeting. With Flip acting as his surrogate, they manage to infiltrate the Klan and get closer to “National Director” David Duke (Topher Grace).

With a premise like that it, it has to be a comedy, right? Well, it sure as shit has humor (more of the ironic variety), but it is a drama. Hell, this is a true story. The film manages to illicit laughs at the expense of the Klan members while also treating them as serious threats, because racists believe their own bullshit. It’s a mix of both humor and disgust, which Lee manages to blend both expertly.

Something that I was so thoroughly impressed with was the treatment of the police officers in the movie. While it does touch on the systematic racism within the department, but it does show us the bond and brotherhood that comes with the job. Stallworth, Zimmerman, and Creek are a team that have each others backs, with one tense sense where one character risks his life so his partner doesn’t get killed. Its impressive how the movie doesn’t paint any of these characters as “black and white” but that it all exists in shades of grey.

BlacKKKlansman is just a film that needs to be seen at least once; with the current social and political climate, Spike Lee has made a movie that is a painful reminder that hate will always be there to be fought, and that almost 50 years after the events of the movie, have we really changed as a society?


The Disaster Artist (2017) Review

     In 2003, a movie was made that was so bad that it became the next Rocky Horror Picture Show in its cult like status as one of the greatest bad movies ever made. 

     That movie was The Room written, produced, and directed by Tommy Wiseau, and it is just a masterpiece of shitty filmmaking. And now we have James Franco directing (and starring as Wiseau himself) a movie based on the novel of the same name by Greg Sistero (played by Dave Franco) about how this ode to inept filmmaking got made. 

     Greg is just a struggling actor trying to make it in show business when he meets Tommy in an acting class. They form a bond, and when things don’t go their way they decide to make The Room as a way to make a name for themselves. As they assemble their crew, their friendship will be put to the test as their passion for filmmaking could cost them everything. 

     It’s difficult to describe what’s at work here. If anything this is the modern day equivalent of Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, and it takes a similar approach; it doesn’t make fun of these odd characters who at their core, just want to make a movie. It just so happens that that movie is hilariously bad. But that’s what makes The Disaster Artist work completely. The friendship that develops between Tommy and Greg is what makes it so endearing that it makes you root for them. 

     Without going into spoilers, but this film has one of the greatest ensemble casts I’ve seen in awhile with Seth Rogan playing director of photography Sandy Sinclair, and Josh Hutcherson playing Philip who plays Denny. There’s so many more but I can’t dream of ruining who else appears just for the laugh out loud factor of it all. And every single actor nails their roles. 

     To be honest, I had doubts that the movie could be pulled off because of Tommy Wiseau himself. Everybody who’s seen The Room knows that Tommy is a unique personality to put it mildly. When James Franco was announced to be playing the part, I was apprehensive that he could capture the weird nature of Wiseau. 

     Franco nailed it. 

     This is by far Franco’s absolute best performance he has ever given. The guy has always been a good actor, but this is something else entirely. As someone who has shamelessly watched The Room I know the speech patterns and syntax that Wiseau speaks in, and Franco hits every single fucking note. There were times I forgot it was Franco that I was seeing on screen. Easily, this is the best performance I have seen from a male in years. James Franco ain’t a movie star anymore; he is one of the most fearless actors (and directors for that matter) working today. 

     I thought a lot that if were possible to enjoy The Disaster Artist without having seen The Room and I believe you can. It helps if you have, don’t get me wrong, but at its core the movie is about two friends who embark on showing Hollywood what they got to offer. The fact that it was one of the worst movies you’ll ever see is irrelevant, they had a dream, a goal, and they achieved it. This is one of the best movies of the year, far and above. It’s such an inspiring tale, that deserves to be seen and praised with such high marks.