Da 5 Bloods (2020)

da_five_bloods_xxlg

Four African American vets battle the forces of man and nature when they return to Vietnam seeking the remains of their fallen squad leader and the gold fortune he helped them hide. (IMDb)
Striking cold-open aside, the first half feels clunky and even dull at times. Post-retrieval picks things up with violent tension (see the mine scene) and emotional character work (see Paul’s solo soul journey) but it’s difficult to parse out all the character motivations and plot threads in the chaos. In the end, its compelling, complex themes (past into present day war[s], greed on top of racial tension) and powerful symbolism (see Norman’s almost Christ-like figure) leave plenty to chew on.
7/10 (Good)

 

Do the Right Thing (1989)

do_the_right_thing_xxlg

On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone’s hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence. (IMDb)
Impossible to pin down: a colourful, clever tapestry of music and monologues, banter and beratings, love and hate–all of it dripping with sweat and f-bombs. The characters vary from complicated to caricatures, the dialogue from raw and real to grand and theatrical, the vibe from crudely humourous to pointedly discomforting, and then to unbearably tense in the heart-wrenching final act. No easy resolutions here, just plenty to ponder (the fire hydrant parallels were particularly provoking).
8/10 (Great)

 

BlacKkKlansman (2018)

blackkklansman-poster

Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer from Colorado, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan with the help of a white surrogate, who eventually becomes head of the local branch. (IMDb)
Jarringly constructed but–often as a result–always compelling: Great soundtrack and creative cinematography in tow, both director and protagonist “infiltrate hate,” at times with deathly seriousness and scathing condemnation and at others simply laughing in its face. True to its rollercoaster form, the devastating coda makes it clear that the undercover mission’s far from over (and possibly casts doubt on its effectiveness) but the gorgeous early dance scene provides a vision of a happy ending.
8/10 (Great)