Spike Lee’s new BLACKKKLANSMAN is an urgent call to look to the past to understand the present, an approach it shares with many of Lee’s films, though perhaps none as strongly as his 1992 epic biopic MALCOLM X. The films revisit two different chapters in 20th-century history, and star two different members of the Washington family — Denzel and his son, John David — but both are pure Lee in both their narrative motivations and their filmmaking technique. In this half, we consider what makes MALCOLM X the rare cradle-to-grave biopic that works, how Lee finds the dynamism in near-constant speechmaking, and whether Angela Bassett elevates a thankless role, or simply channels its innate nuance. Plus, some feedback asking our two less confrontational co-hosts to step up with their unpopular opinions.
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