“BlacKkKlansman”

Directed by Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman” tells the true story of Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) as he becomes the first African-American cop on the Colorado Springs police force in the mid 1970s. Stallworth, with the help of Jewish officer Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), leads an undercover investigation of the Ku Klux Klan. 

The film’s plot is based off “some fo’ real, fo’ real shit” revealed in Ron Stallworth’s 2014 memoir, “Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime.” The film features Lee’s signature heavy-handed commentary on society as it draws parallels between that of Stallworth’s experiences with the KKK in the 70s and today’s tense race relations driven by Donald Trump’s presidency. In the past, Lee has been known to act as both filmmaker and social commentator with films such as “School Daze,” “Do the Right Thing” and “Bamboozled.” “BlacKkKlansman” follows Lee’s style and takes it a step further with direct digs to the current commander in chief. 

One particular opening segment features Alec Baldwin — known for portraying Trump on “Saturday Night Live” — giving a speech about the “great way of life” embodied in the Confederacy and how it was threatened by the rise of the civil rights movement. As Baldwin speaks, the film cuts between him and scenes from D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation,” a film notorious for bringing about the second rise of the KKK. Throughout the speech, Baldwin messes up and is corrected by someone off-camera. The blatantly racist speech is cut with comedic elements establishing the tone audiences can expect throughout the film. “BlacKkKlansman” is equal parts a grim, politically charged drama as it is a comedic, buddy-cop feature — a balance only Lee could achieve in what many are calling one of his greatest films to date. 

Both Driver and Washington deliver powerful performances filled with gut-splitting laughter among Lee’s heart-wrenching message that hate in Trump’s America is not so new and simply a continuation of something that’s always been around.

“Coco”

While many Elon University students are celebrating Halloween, others are preparing to commemorate their heritage and dead loved ones through Dia de los Muertos. Turner Theatre is providing a great opportunity to experience the holiday with a screening of Pixar’s “Coco.” Directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, “Coco” focuses on a young boy, Miguel, who holds a deep appreciation of music and greatly admires legendary singer Ernesto de la Cruz. When faced with his family’s long history of hatred with music, Miguel finds himself trapped in the land of the dead and has to find his way back to the
land of living. 

The film is a stunningly animated feature filled with rich culture and a multilayered story that can be enjoyed across generations. While the movie’s tone is predominately light-hearted and comedic, audiences will be moved to wipe away the stray tear as the film builds to emotionally-compelling moments. 

Themes of family and legacy drive the film as Miguel connects with his family’s past to understand the present. One of the greatest things about the film is how each character feels fleshed out and developed and contributes to the film’s story and beauty; there are no senseless or arbitrary characters. 

While death is a theme often not associated with happiness, Pixar brings a certain warmth to the subject. Audiences may be drawn in by the vibrant and stunning animation style but will stay for the multilayered story that reaches the full range of emotions they’ve come to expect from Pixar films.

“Anchorman”

“Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” is directed by Adam McKay and focuses on Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), a legendary local anchor based in San Diego in the 1970s. “Anchorman” highlights Ferrell’s strength in character-based comedy and is perfect for moviegoers looking for an incredibly goofy film to escape into for an hour and a half. Audiences who enjoy Ferrell’s brand of slapstick comedy will enjoy this film that comes across more as loosely-strung together skits with gut-busting moments than it does a fully-developed plot.

“A Boy. A Girl. A Dream.”

Qasim Basir’s “A Boy. A Girl. A Dream.” is a mood-driven piece that takes place in a single night and follows the blossoming relationship of Cass, a Los Angeles club promoter, and Frida, a visiting midwesterner, as they meet and together find themselves connecting and processing the results of the 2016 presidential election. 

Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter said the film “is intermittently intoxicating as it sends its searchers figuratively floating through the night on a vague and unplanned odyssey looking for something they can’t precisely verbalize.”


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