When we talk about the best movies Spike Lee's ever made, one that sometimes gets lost in the conversation is Inside Man. Though Lee effectively blew the roof off cinema itself with Do the Right Thing and has continued to own a pure experimental streak throughout the whole of his career (Chi-raq ranks near the top, fam), Lee proved with that movie he could dig in and deliver an electrifying bit of pure pulp.
While his last work, Pass Over, was essentially a filmed play (and is available now for all to stream via Amazon Prime), his next is the Jordan Peele-produced '70s police procedural, BlacKkKlansman (shout out to Ice Cube with that title). Focus Features showed off footage at CinemaCon last week and apparently wowed that crowd of industry folks, introducing the world to Spike's true story of an African-American detective (John David Washington) who infiltrated a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado Springs and became one of its leaders.
The above photo is our first look at both Washington as Ron Stallworth, and his partner Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver). Stallworth began a relationship with KKK leader David Duke (Topher Grace)(yeah, you read that right) over the phone, and had Flip play the “white version" of his undercover persona when meeting Duke and other KKK members in person. Stallworth then rose through the ranks of the KKK, leading to one of the most comprehensive looks at its inner workings by both an outsider and a black man.
What's kind of great is that folks out of CC are describing the tone of the footage they saw as a "buddy comedy", as the whole situation becomes increasingly ludicrous. Obviously, tonal shifts are a hallmark of Lee's work, so we should probably expect BlacKkKlansman to take some rather dark turns (I mean, duh, it's about the fucking KKK).
Washington recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the movie, saying:
“The most outrageous part [about the film] is that it’s factual, that this happened. That’s why it’s so…everything in it, you’ll see, how extreme and eye-opening and surprising the events that happened are, but what tops it off [for] me, what makes it all come together, is that this really happened. This is American history. It’s unbelievable that this story is true, and whether you connect with the film or not, to come into this information is still mind-blowing.”
Washington even said Lee had the real Stallworth visit the set:
“[Ron] still has his Klu Klux Klan membership card to this day. He passed the card around for us to see and feel and it kind of just brought truth to everything he said, a validation.”
Look, if you're not excited about this movie, you may need to turn in your film fan card, because everything about this sounds utterly amazing.
Focus Features unleashes BlacKkKlansman upon the world August 10th. That's right, we get two new Spike Lee movies in a year. What a time to be alive.