Were Evangeline more sympathetic and self-aware, we might ask ourselves how our enjoyment of Howard is so different from hers of Madeline, and how our continued appetite for performances of female psychological fracture fits into a history of condescension and exploitation.
The basic material of BlacKkKlansman is custom-made to be described as provocative, even though it is hard to pick out a moment in the finished film that would possibly provoke or discomfit someone already inclined to buy a ticket to a Spike Lee movie called BlacKkKlansman.
Will is affected by not just PTSD but also a self-serving, deluded masculinity that is killing his relationship with the only person he has in this world. The central, intentional frustration of the film stems from our desire to see them stay together, even as he is denying his daughter the life and community she so desperately needs and craves.
Writer/director Jim McKay’s fifth feature, and his first since 2005’s Angel Rodriguez, is his most tightly plotted film yet, propelled by a momentum that’s often exhilaratingly fleet. Yet his emphasis on his characters’ everyday stakes keeps the film from feeling lightweight.
If Hong is indeed the best that we have got, there is something troubling about this fact. For it should detract nothing from the integrity of his body of work to say that, when taken altogether, it is a quintessential expression of a cinema of disappointment and diminished expectations.
Even the most resourceful, imaginative filmmaker would be hard-pressed to redeem the screenplay, specifically the lengths to which Cody goes to disguise the true nature of the story, and also the underlying reasons for the charade, which are unconvincing and in bad faith.
That Denis can produce a work that, without a trace of preciousness, is equal parts indebted to Barthes and Chicago blues, connected as arm is to shoulder to the film-historical legacy of post-New Wave French filmmaking, is only further justification for claim that the 71-year-old is the greatest working director over the last two decades.