Will Self-Validating Festival Do The Right Thing?

Of course, it’s all in the question: what is the right thing? Twenty-nine years ago the Egos-that-be† passed over Lee’s Do The Right Thing in favor of Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies & Videotape. Now, Lee is back at the Cannes Film Festival premiering his latest, BlacKkKlansman‡.

Spike Lee Blackkklansman poster

Do The Right Thing is a superior film to Sex, Lies & Videotape. Period. Should it have won the Palme d’Or? I say “Yes”, it is a far more engaging film, regardless of its theme.

The term “an important movie” gets thrown about casually, certainly more so in today’s social media driven ehco chamber that passes for legitimate criticism today than was the case when Do The Right Thing contended at Cannes years ago. Regardless, the film was important, if for no other reason than that it avoided an easily digestible analysis of a complex social dynamic. For that, see Crash.

To note: Lee was severely disappointed when the film failed to win. A disservice which he’s never stopped reminding us of. C’est la vie.

Blackkklansman Spike Lee
Adam Driver and John David Washington as Flip Zimmerman and Ron Stallworth (no, I’m not making these up) respectively

But Did It Really K-k-Kill It At C-c-Cannes?

Fast forward 29 years. Spike Lee shows off his new work, stutteringly-titled BlacKkKlansman.

Have times changed? No doubt. In terms of real advancement as well as some popular/ist conceits and the sense of entitlement easy access to the internet and social media (specifically) have afforded those with too much time and too few critical thinking skills.

It’s interesting to note that in describing the film’s reception The Hollywood Reporter led with the following headline: “Cannes: Spike Lee’s ‘BlacKkKlansman‘ Draws 10-Minute Ovation”. A ten-minute ovation, you say? Four paragraphs into the article we get this:

“The audience broke out in applause a half-dozen times during the screening, followed by four minutes of applause during the credits and a six-minute standing ovation.”

Or How To Shill An Agenda Via The Associative Property Of Media Distribution

From the site Movie Magic:

“The Focus Features release is in contention for Cannes’ most prestigious competition prize, the Palme d’Or, though one reporter indicated only American viewers were blown away by the project.”

Spike Lee Blackkklansman Dell
A Real American Hustler

American viewers you say? Hmmmmmm.

But What Is It About?

The story is straightforward. Taking place in 1979, BlacKkKlansman involves Ron Stallworth’s (played by John David Washington) successful infiltration of the KKK. Putting up with those assholes would be a soul-crushing challenge for anyone, but Stallworth also happened to be the first black police office in Colorado Springs.

blackkklansman Spike Lee

Exactly. Which makes this joint all the more interesting, one that – all shilling aside – I’m looking forward to hearing more about. Public persona aside, the man is highly talented.

BlacKkKlansman also stars Adam Driver as Ron’s partner and Topher “Nice To See He’s Still Getting Work” Grace as David Duke. Saywhaaa?

Will Spike Lee get the validation he so craves? Who knows, though I suspect that if doesn’t we’ll hear about it. Regardless, this joint gets lit August 10th.

†Wim Wenders was Jury President at the time. No small irony that Wenders has a film of his own, Pope Francis: A Man of His Word in contention this year.
‡It’s how it’s “spelled” at IMDb. If it’s wrong you can K-k-K-ill me.

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