Talia Lavin in Huffington Post:
2018 was a year overstuffed with culture. That’s just the way it is now, movies and TV and songs and memes and thoughtful features and endless, endless politics scrolling past our weary eyes at the speed of silicon and too-blue light. But in all the chaos there’s a moment where my hazy memories of frenetic consumption pause, for a piece of filmmaking that called on me to think hard and to remember. That movie was Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman.” It’s currently raking in a modest haul of awards, but for me, it’s going to linger long past the last bottle of popped January 1st champagne, a remarkable slice of light to which I’ll return for years to come.
Much has been said about the film ― its ambition, historicity and panache have been amply noted. But I’ve elected to discuss it here because I admire it as a piece of artistry and as a salvo launched at the perfect cultural moment. he film is about a pioneering black cop who confronts the Ku Klux Klan, providing the voice of a would-be Klansman on the phone while his Jewish co-worker offers a white body to attend the meetings in person. Any summary would be a bare gesture at the substance of the movie, which deftly conjures up the early 1970s with both winking kitsch and careful verisimilitude. “BlacKkKlansman” delivers more than any blockbuster ever needs to, filling its slick packaging with layers of complexity that Hollywood rarely allows for. The film addresses the conditional whiteness of Jews in America; the ways in which the presumed fragility of white womanhood can provide a shield for those who would do violence; the vitality of student activism, and the way it forms an irresistible target for those who would silence dissent; and the role of music, rhetoric and film itself in shaping black and white identities. It does all this and so much more, wrapped in a compulsively watchable package.
There’s a bravura quality to it, a bracing reminder of the need to combat racism in both its most overt guises ― Klansmen burning crosses ― and its subtler incarnations, as when rookie black cop Ron Stallworth faces an array of racist behaviors at his new workplace, from skepticism to outright slurs.