Three Reasons to Watch: Blindspotting
Every Monday, Curzon or a guest editor recommends a key film from the Curzon Home Cinema collection. This week, it’s one of last year’s most astonishing films, Blindspotting.
Thirty years ago this summer, Do the Right Thing opened in the US and across Europe. Spike Lee’s third feature unfolds over the year’s hottest day and in a Brooklyn neighbourhood. The action revolves around Sal’s Pizzeria, a long-established Italian-American-run restaurant that caters predominantly to African-American patrons. Mookie, played by Spike Lee, is a 20-something employee whose friends are outraged that the restaurant’s wall of fame only features white people. From this simple premise, Lee orchestrates a blistering portrait of race, racism and antagonism in contemporary America. Since then, the country has witnessed Rodney King and the LA riots, a seeming increase of police shootings of unarmed black people, Barak Obama become president, the rise of white supremacists and the reeling back of voting rights for people of colour in various states.
Last year, cinema audiences saw a reflection of American society and increasing racial tensions in Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, a powerful adaptation of Angie Thomas’ YA novel The Hate You Give, Reinaldo Marcus Green's Monsters and Men and Carlos López Estrada’s Blindspotting. Together, they showed that little has changed in the three decades since Do the Right Thing.
Blindspotting is arguably the least known and best of these films. It opens with a parolee witnessing the shooting of an unarmed black man by a cop. Fearing any repercussions if he were to offer a witness statement, on the few days he has left before being a free man once again, he says nothing. But the rage and guilt at what he saw and didn’t do build up. At the same time, he is attempting to get back with his girlfriend and steering clear of any trouble that could affect his parole. Which isn’t so easy when he has to cope with a friend who lives life on the edge and regularly explodes at the way their beloved Oakland has become gentrified.
Like Do the Right Thing, Blindspotting lifts its weighty themes with a deftness that has the film seamlessly shifting gears between comedy, drama and, in its climactic moments, nerve-shredding tension and heightened emotion. The drive of Carlos López Estrada’s direction might betray his background in music videos but is nevertheless an impressive achievement by a first-time director. And the script, co-written by the film’s two stars Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, remains on point, even in its knockabout comedy banter.
Three Reasons to Watch Blindspotting
Collin’s rap. The culmination of the film’s seething anger at police violence reaches its climax in a tense encounter. But in refusing to play to Hollywood stereotypes, Collin launches into an articulate but enraged rap performance about the state of society. As would be expected of one of the original cast members of ‘Hamilton’, Daveed Diggs delivers a barnstorming performance.
Two of the film’s tensest scenes involve a gun. One in a domestic environment, the other on the street. But in both instances the film once again plays against type. The gun is not a symbol of machismo or strength, but a threat to the person holding it as much as the people it might be pointed at.
Diggs and Casal’s banter. There’s an immediate and recognisable familiarity between the two, which starts out as the comic core of the film but deepens as it progresses. It ultimately asks the question, how do we deal with our closest friends when we move on and they remain stuck in the past?
Blindspotting is available to watch on Curzon Home Cinema
Do the Right Thing will screen as part of Curzon Sheffield’s Summer at the Cinema
Collin (Daveed Diggs) must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning. He and his troublemaking childhood best friend, Miles (Rafael Casal), work as movers, and when Collin witnesses a police shooting, the two men’s friendship is tested as they grapple with identity and their changed realities in the rapidly-gentrifying neighbourhood they grew up in.
Longtime friends and collaborators, Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal co-wrote and star in this timely and wildly entertaining story about friendship and the intersection of race and class set against the backdrop of Oakland. Bursting with energy, style, and humor, and infused with the spirit of rap, hip hop, and spoken word, Blindspotting, boldly directed by Carlos López Estrada in his feature film debut, is a provocative hometown love letter that glistens with humanity.
Watch Blindspotting now on Curzon Home Cinema