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Filmmaker and Director Spike Lee talks about his latest film, “BlacKkKlansman,” which has been lauded by critics since its release, and the upcoming awards season.
BlacKkKlansman retells the true story of a black cop who joined his local Klan chapter
From visionary filmmaker Spike Lee comes the incredible true story of an American hero. It’s the early 1970s, and Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department.
Determined to make a name for himself, Stallworth bravely sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan.
The young detective soon recruits a more seasoned colleague, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), into the undercover investigation of a lifetime. Together, they team up to take down the extremist hate group as the organization aims to sanitize its violent rhetoric to appeal to the mainstream.
BlacKkKlansman is a well-crafted dramatization of real events and one of Spike Lee’s more effective cinematic sermons on racism in recent memory.Full review Sandy Schaefer Screen Rant Lee structures BlacKkKlansman like a crackerjack procedural, punctuated by jaunty humor and Mod Squad team dynamics.
Ann Hornaday Washington PostThere are few filmmakers as consistently, burningly passionate as Spike Lee. This is vital and timely work that’s up there with his best, with a gut-wrenching sting in the tail.Full review
Helen O’Hara EmpireFor the most part, BlacKkKlansman reflects upon the disturbingly vile mindset of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s.Full reviewBob Hoose Plugged In
|JULIE MILLER, VANITY FAIR|AIWA! NO!|Last year, Real Housewives executive producer Andy Cohen noticed Donald Trump using so many pot-stirring tactics from the Bravo franchise that he began cataloguing them on Twitter. When the president used social media to cancel a White House invitation that N.B.A. champion Stephen Curry had not yet officially rejected, Cohen tweeted, “HOUSEWIVES PLAYBOOK: rescind invitations liberally! (See: Bethenny re LuAnn, Mexico; Bethenny & Ramona, Mexico).”
Trump’s post-election digs about Hillary? “Keep bringing up fights from last season.” Trump’s excuse for not immediately calling Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto following an earthquake? “Blame cell-phone reception.” Trump’s suggestion that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign colluded with the Russians? Tossing out bogus statements in desperate pleas “to stay on the show,” Cohen wrote.
It isn’t surprising that in the first year-plus of his presidency, Trump has returned to the reality-TV toolbox he used so effectively during his 14 seasons on NBC’s The Apprentice—where he rebranded himself from 90s tabloid buffoon into something resembling a successful C.E.O. Yet it’s still scary that Trump—essentially an amusing reality-TV character who wound up in the White House through an arguably Twilight Zone-worthy sequence of events—is running the country with the same kind of schemes Ramona Singer deploys during white-wine-fueled Hamptons getaways on The Real Housewives of New York City. Only, to Cohen, Trump’s flagrant headline grabs are so artless that the president would be kicked off a Bravo series that traffics in backseat limo brawls. (Or maybe “impeached” would be the verb.)
|AIWA! NO!|While the critical consensus has been building around A Star Is Born, Roma and The Favourite, the Golden Globes nomination list has launched a surprise new frontrunner. Leading the field with six nods, including actor and director, is Adam McKay’s enjoyable, if flashily self-aware political comedy Vice, with its glowering portrayal of former vice-president, big oil nabob and war-on-terror enthusiast Dick Cheney, who the film shows effectively leading America throughout the presidency of George W Bush.
Christian Bale has put on considerable amounts of weight and latex for the role and the result is undoubtedly entertaining, although I wonder if the surge of enthusiasm for this movie represents a guilty rush of liberal nostalgia for the good old days when the Republican bad guys, however horrible, were smart and rational people who had the good taste to keep a relatively low profile, and you kind of knew where you stood with them. The movie actually finishes with a post-credits sting which makes the director’s attitude to the new Trumpian zeitgeist and its standard of political debate pretty clear. Amy Adams is also up for best supporting actress for her performance as Cheney’s formidable wife Lynne, and Sam Rockwell for his amiable, undemanding and more subtly latexed turn as Dubya himself.
Behind the six nominations for Vice is four apiece for Yorgos Lanthimos’s exhilaratingly mad post-Restoration romp The Favourite with its outstanding performance from Olivia Colman; Peter Farrelly’s Green Book, starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen as a classical pianist and his driver; and Bradley Cooper’s brilliant and extravagant sugar-rush remake of A Star Is Born. Of these, the most prominent is obviously A Star Is Born, with its wonderful lead performance from Lady Gaga. Warner Bros has – perhaps a little over-solemnly – entered A Star Is Born in the Globes’ “drama” section rather than “musical or comedy”. Obviously, it isn’t funny and it is dramatic, but I would have liked to see this film honoured for its all-important musical content. Surely its song Shallow is going to walk off with best song, and as for the rest, who can tell? I love it, but A Star Is Born could yet find itself pipped at a number of posts, and in the best picture (drama) category, Barry Jenkins’s If Beale Street Could Talk might have the edge.
The Favourite is a jagged, sharp-clawed picture which has snagged the attention of everyone who has seen it, since it opened on the festival circuit at the end of the summer and praising it has become de rigueur among opinion-makers. It’s based on real-life figures from the English court – which could have been given a very square bonnets-and-ruffles period-drama treatment, but which Lanthimos’s unique style elevates to a quite different kind of absurdist spectacle. Olivia Colman’s Queen Anne is a thing of joy.
Green Book is based on a true story: the relationship between classical pianist Don Shirley (Ali) and his Italian-American driver and bodyguard Tony Vallelonga (Mortensen) in the 60s. It’s a heart-in-the-right-place movie which could find itself doing well, but I think it will be crowded out in the end.
Elsewhere, it is impossible not to see a couple of outrageous snubs. Ari Aster’s superlative scary movie Hereditary didn’t get into the best film (drama) category; well, all right, but surely Toni Collette deserved a shot at best actress for her superb performance? Well, at all events, it is great to see Glenn Close in that category for her subversively enigmatic literary spouse in The Wife. That surely has to be favourite. Also, it’s great that John C Reilly has been nominated for his (excellent) performance as Oliver Hardy in Jon S Baird’s Stan & Ollie – though not nominating Steve Coogan, who played Stan Laurel, is just silly.
On now to the subject of the film which most believe to be the very best of the year: Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma: this has screenplay, director and best foreign language film – although its status as a foreign-language film appears to have ruled it out of the best film categories. I think Cuarón deserves best director, although I wonder if he might get beaten out of the best foreign-language spot by the more obviously heart-tugging Capernaum, by Nadine Labaki, though I have to admit to not sharing the dewy-eyed praise for that film.
Elsewhere, Bohemian Rhapsody has done very well with a best actor (drama) nod for Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury and even a best drama nomination. Those are nominations which are interestingly in tune with a current of popular opinion which really likes this film, and which is impatient with critical voices who found it bland or straightwashed.
And ever since Ryan Coogler’s highly entertaining superhero movie Black Panther, the debate has been whether the awards establishment can find a way to honour its overwhelming success. The Globes, with their unstuffy tradition of recognising movies which are not solemn awards-bait, would be the place, but Black Panther has not in fact dominated the field.
Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman has been coolly picking up praise and enthusiasm since it emerged at Cannes back in May. Now its nominations include best director for Lee himself, best drama and best actor for John David Washington. I was agnostic about it, but this is a movie whose awards momentum could yet pick up.
For me, this years Globes “silly” vote goes to Mary Poppins Returns with a very respectable set of nods for best musical or comedy, actress (for Emily Blunt) and actor (Lin-Manuel Miranda). Hmmm. MPR isn’t bad, and it has some lovely showstoppers at the very beginning. But the confectionery really isn’t that nutritious or appetising by the end.
So a reasonable Globes list, with the surreal prospect of Dick Cheneysquaring off with Lady Gaga for the big prizes.
Besides the fact that Gaga is already a majorly successful and popular musician, as well outspoken defender of social justice, this award show news is significant because it’s (potentially) historic. While Gaga isn’t a first-time Golden Globe nominee, if she were to win for Best Actress, she will have been nominated in three distinct categories (movies, TV and song) and the first musician to win for acting in a dramatic film.
In 2012, the “Shallow” singer was nominated for “Hello, Hello,” a collaboration with Elton Johnmade for the film, Gnomeo and Juliet. In 2016, she snagged her first Golden Globe win in 2016 for her role in TV series American Horror Story. Several musicians have been lauded with acting nominations in the past, including Diana Ross (1972’s “Lady Sings the Blues”) and Cher (1985’s ‘Mask”) and a few have won in the Best Film Comedy/Musical Actress category, but it’s relatively harder for an artist to break out of the “musical” category and be taken “seriously” as a dramatic actor. This nomination is truly an acknowledgement of Gaga’s significant range as a performer.Many took to social media to express their support for the artist, with excitement ranging from “pretty gaga” to “full-on gaga”:
According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, FNC averaged 2.4 million total viewers in prime time during 2018, +26 percent more than the next closest finisher, ESPN, and 1.4 million total day viewers in 2018, +43 percent more than second place finisher MSNBC. In fact, Fox News was the sole basic cable network to average more than a million viewers across the 24-hour day.
When compared to 2017, Fox News was +1 percent in total prime time viewers.
The majority of the other top cable entertainment networks posted year-over year declines in 2018. This is likely due to the increase in cord cutting, a trend TV news and other networks which broadcast live programming have seemingly proved immune to.
MSNBC, as noted in previous reports this week, posted the most significant year-over-year audience growth of any top 25 basic cable network (+10 percent in prime time / +12 percent in total day).
ESPN had a pretty strong 2018 as well, only -1 percent from 2017. In this day and age, call that a win.
2018 BASIC CABLE TOP 10
Prime Time (Total Viewers) / YoY % Change
Fox News Channel (2,434,000) / +1 percent
ESPN (1,929,000) / -1 percent
MSNBC (1,802,000) / +10 percent
HGTV (1,314,000) / -6 percent
USA (1,291,000) / -9 percent
TBS (1,262,000) / –10 percent
TNT (1,171,000) / FLAT
Hallmark (1,105,000) / +1 percent
History (1,038,000) / -8 percent
Investigation Discovery (1,007,000) / FLAT
Total Day (Total Viewers) / YoY % Change
Fox News (1,424,000) / -5 percent
MSNBC (994,000) / +12 percent
Nickelodeon (870,000) / -22 percent
ESPN (760,000) / -2 percent
HGTV (736,000) / -8 percent
Investigation Discovery (719,000) / -3 percent
CNN (706,000) / -9 percent
Hallmark (656,000) / +4 percent
USA (617,000) / -12 percent
TNT (591,000) / -7 percent
The Total Day top 10 looks relatively similar to prime time. Fox News at No. 1 despite losing viewers from 2017, and MSNBC posting double digit growth in total viewers for the second straight year.
Kids/daytime-focused Nickelodeon found its way to No. 3. However, the network continues to post year-over-year declines, as kids are increasingly watching their favorite shows on various other devices.
CNN earned a strong No. 7 ranking, while TBS, which thrives on acquisitions and live sports in prime time, is not in the Total Day top 10; neither is History.
Here’s a look at the rest of the Nielsen-rated basic cable networks for 2018: