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Yes No Maybe So: BlacKkKlansman

by Nathaniel R

Why you acting like you don't got skin in the game."

What a treat. Just as Spike Lee's latest joint was premiering at Cannes we were got the trailer. The movie is a true story about a black officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. Spike Lee's given it a comic spin and it looks like a potentially huge hit. 

Let's do the Yes No Maybe So™ breakdown and take in some Cannes reactions after the jump, shall we... 



  • Spike Lee films are events with the right topic, and this one qualifies. 
  • Early buzz from Cannes suggests that the film is focused and funny and provocative. Spike is at his best when he's bringing the humor as well as the topicality.
  • Spike is bringing his typical strong crew along with him (Barry Alexander Brown in particular looks like he'll be having fun in the editing room)
  • Except for the cinematographor. This time he's gone with a young DP named Chayse Irvin. Irvin doesn't have that much of a feature filmography yet to judge on but he was one of the 7 cinematographers on Lemonade so we're probably in good hands. The trailer looks semi-promising in this regard.
  • I'm living for the split screens.
  • The trailer is so well constructed. Especially the opening phone call and the cops slowly turning around to face Ron Stallworth. 
  • The cast looks promising. Denzel's son John David Washington leads with the ever reliable Adam Driver as his other half on the police force, Topher Grace as KKK leader David Duke, and Laura Harrier (Spider-Man Homecoming) as... well, the trailer isn't totally clear on what she's doing here other than being perhaps a love interest? an activist? Both?


  • I personally love Spike Lee's provocative humor... even when I dont totally get it (see Bamboozled) I love that he's such an ambitious singular voice. The idea of him giving this a comic spin seems appealing if risky because the premise is so absurd (despite being true!). But I'm already dreading the hot takes. Humorless tirades about the politics of provocative movies will be the end of us all. Or, rather, the end of joyful passionate movie discussions which is also a terrible fate!
  • Ohmygod did I see a canted angle? No, Spike, no. No to all filmmakers still tempted to go there. They are so tired and overworked.


  • I have no 'maybe so's but for curiousity about how it will fare at the Oscars. We'd originally thought maybe and then heard that the studio wasn't thinking about it in that way but then came Cannes and the standing ovation and the hoopla so you have to wonder a) whether it takes any prizes to build awards momentum b) how well it fares in release and c) whether critical support remains the same once its in theaters because festival audiences can sometimes be a unique world unto themselves and provocative movies especially sometimes become very divisive or even hated once they're in general release. You just never know. 





Are you a Yes No or a Maybe So on this one?

 And please tell me you've seen Chi-Raq. It just missed my top ten list in its year so I'm done with critics who are pretending that Spike Lee hasn't done anything good in years. Watch his damn movies before you say that!


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Reader Comments (25)

I'm a "yes." Thought .Chi-Raq was quite good. Would argue that The 25th Hour + Inside Man + Chi-Raq are as vital a trio of films as any 21st Century English language filmmaker has done.

May 15, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Yes, looks good.

May 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJono

Spike Lee is winning *something* at Cannes. And then that builds momentum. He's getting his Director nomination in 2019. You heard it here folks.

May 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAlexD

I'm a yes, but I don't get all the Inside Man references in those tweets. I thought it was routinary.

May 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

How about giving the trailer an award for how well it's constructed? Like Chi-raq, this looks like it's tackling a serious subject in a humorous way, which is always welcome from Spike. I'm a definite yes.

May 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

I enjoyed Chi-raq, but it felt like a massive swing for the fences that came up short. I don't know what you expect when you give supporting roles to Angela Bassett, Wesley Snipes, John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson (as the narrator, natch), but give one of the lead roles to Nick freaking Cannon.

May 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBen

I'm with Ben - I liked Chi-Raq a lot, way more than I expected to given my allergy to musicals, but it was just short of sticking the landing; ALL of the women were GREAT though; had the movie been about them all the way, classic.

That said any Spike Lee film is an event not to be missed, period.

May 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Definitely a yes from me. And I like Chi-raq too, but I can see why some people didn't.

May 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBrittani

Chi-Raq was great but also inconsistent and frustrating. Definitely looking forward to this one, even with the apparent paucity of women's roles in it.

May 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Oh hell YES.

Count me in the "flawed but worthy" camp for Chi-Raq. (That could describe so many Spike Lee joints though, right?)

Also, I know I'm in the minority here but I'm a huge, huge fan of BAMBOOZLED. It holds up.

May 16, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterlylee

Yasssssss! That's all.

What's a "canted angle"?

May 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPaulie

It's a yes from me. If it's as good as everyone says, I'd love to see Lee ride something like this all the way to Best Director trophies from here to the Oscars.

May 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

Critics who say "Spike Lee hasn't made anything good in years" are (in my experience) critics who have never truly warmed to any of Spike Lee's work, even his celebrated work. They have their knives out for him and I don't think we need to get into why that is.

May 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKieran Scarlett

Canted angle is a slanted frame of reference to skew point of view. Some famous examples are filmmakers like:

Terry Gilliam -

Guy Ritchie -

and the aforementioned Lee -

May 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBen

Well I'm all for the veteran filmmakers at Cannes that are getting all this attention - Paul Schrader and Spike Lee.

May 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterArlo

All I can say is... this... OH HELL YEAH!!!!! I hope this is a major return to form for Spike and I would love to have this film piss off the alt-right and their asshole dictator.

May 16, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

Maybe this will do well so he can stop doing those stupid Capital One commercials during the NCAA Tournament every year.

May 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Just because the movie has a RT score in the high 90s, doesn't mean it's a great movie - it's probably merely fine.
But like Black Panther and 12 years A Slave, it's a movie you can't say anything negative about because of the subject matter and because of white guilt.

Spike Lee hasn't made a truly great movie since 25th Hour.

May 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterUlrich

Ulrich - You seemed pressed by black talent.

May 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbeyaccount

F' off Ulrich

May 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJess

again -- have people really not seen CHI-RAQ? Why is the reference always Inside Man or 25th Hour for recent fine work by Lee? I like Inside Man (it's fun) and agree that 25th Hour is one of his best but chi-raq should no longer be ignored.


1. Do the Right Thing
2. 25th Hour
3. Summer of Sam (totally his most weirdly undervalued)
4. Chi-Raq
5. Malcolm X (or Inside Man depending on the mood)

But my two big blindspots are CROOKLYN and SCHOOL DAZE so i need to see those still.

May 17, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

But my two big blindspots are CROOKLYN and SCHOOL DAZE so i need to see those still.

Shame. Shame. Shame.

May 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Nat, maybe Lee would be a good subject for your next Posterized, assuming you still do those?

May 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Oh, Nathaniel you're in for such a treat re: both CROOKLYN and SCHOOL DAZE. They're both so much fun.

May 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKieran Scarlett

DJDEEDAY -- i just realized i haven't done those in a long time. Time to start again. though i think i did spike lee once already. i'll have to look.

May 17, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

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