2017 Summer Movie Review: Detroit

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Officer Melvin Dismukes (John Boyega) tries to find out the commotion at the Algiers Motel in Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit. (Source: IMDb)

Director Kathryn Bigelow has come a long way from collaborating with her ex-husband on Point Break. A movie that is nothing but pure ‘90s entertainment. It’s dumb, hilarious, action-packed, and cool; featuring memorable dialogue and a great cast playing memorable characters. What’s not to love?

Heading into the 21st century, she—along with screenwriter Mark Boal—made the transition to capture the brutal realism of the War on Terrorism in The Hurt Locker (which won the Oscar for Best Picture of 2009) and Zero Dark Thirty. This time, they go back to a devastating time in history. Detroit brings the 1960s culture and the racial tensions of the time to pure life.

Michigan’s largest city has become one of the most diverse in America. Known as The Great Migration (as stated in the film’s opening scene), millions of African-Americans moved from the cotton fields of the South to the Northern states in hopes of living a better life and earn extra money. After World War II, however, the white population moved to the suburbs which caused tensions to rise.

On one of the hottest days of 1967, the police force (who are mostly white) make arrests on the streets, which pisses off the black community. They start robbing stores, put buildings and cars on fire, and protest to no end. The National Guard, the Michigan PD, and the Detroit PD patrol the streets day in and day out, and address a curfew to the residents.

Melvin Dismukes (John Boyega) is a security guard who hears shots at the nearby Algiers Motel. He goes over there to see what’s going on. Three white cops, led by Philip Krauss (Will Poulter) who has faced murder charges for killing a black male from robbing a grocery store in broad daylight. He lines people up against the wall to find out who’s responsible for shooting at the police. This resulted in three black males getting killed, and nine others—including a Vietnam veteran (Anthony Mackie) and two white females, Julie (Hannah Murray) and Karen (Kaitlyn Dever, Last Man Standing)—injured.

The riots from fifty years ago are relevant to the racial tensions of today—from the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, to the shooting of Oscar Grant at San Francisco’s Fruitvale Station (depicted in 2013’s overlooked Fruitvale Station), to the riots in Baltimore in 2015; where a game between the Orioles and the Boston Red Sox went on without any fans in the stadium whatsoever. Detroit is a reminder of today’s racial discrimination.

Barry Ackroyd’s handheld camerawork resembles the films of Peter Berg and Paul Greengrass. The entire sequence at the Algiers Motel had the same impact as the lifeboat sequence in Captain Phillips; nothing but edge-of-your-seat intensity. While filmed in Dorchester, Massachusetts, the sets look as authentic as the city and the events that took place.

I cannot ask for a better cast. From Poulter’s sinister work as Officer Krauss to Boyega’s raw, convincing performance as Officer Dismukes (who seems to be a great guy to be around with, particularly in an early scene where he serves coffee to a small group of white officers), Algee Smith steals the entire movie as Larry Reed, the lead singer of the Dramatics, with a stellar voice. After his performance gets cancelled, reality begins to hit him across the face.

According to an article in the Detroit Free Press, most of the audience members who attended the world premiere at the Fox Theatre were actually a part of the riots—from police officers to ordinary residents. They were moved to tears over the film’s portrayal. It’s a shame Detroit underperformed at the box office this past weekend. This is a movie everybody needs to see; not to mention being viewed in every high school in America.

4/4

 

2017 Summer Movie Preview: August

This is it! It’s officially August, which means the summer movie season is about to come to a close. This also means this is the last time I’ll talk about what has yet to come out during the summer until next year. Unsurprisingly, this has been a pretty decent summer for movies. I might not have seen every single one of them, but there have been some fantastic ones (War for the Planet of the Apes, Dunkirk), some bad ones (The Mummy, Okja), and ones I’m glad I skipped. Without further ado, let’s talk about the movies that are coming out in the slowest month of the summer.

August 4

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Source: IMP Awards

The Dark Tower – Based on a fantasy series by the marvelous Stephen King, this movie stars two talented actors—Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. Elba’s Gunslinger must prevent McConaughey’s Man in Black from the Dark Tower, hoping to save mankind. This has been in the works for a while. J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard considered to direct the continuation of King’s series before Nikolaj Arcel (writer and director of The Royal Affair, and writer of the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) took over. This might be okay if it was much longer than 95 minutes, so—the audience can discover the world Stephen King created. I’m skeptical with this one.

detroit_impawards

Source: IMP Awards

Detroit – Kathryn Bigelow has come a long way from directing the awesome 1990s action film Point Break. Now—she joins the likes of Paul Greengrass and Peter Berg with work on the gritty realism of the Iraq war in The Hurt Locker. She beat her ex-husband James Cameron for winning Best Picture and becoming the first woman to win Best Director. Bigelow continues her route with Zero Dark Thirty, the true story of the NAVY seals killing Osama bin Laden. With Detroit, she—along with writer Mark Boal—depict the miserable riots of the city that happened fifty years ago. From the looks of this, I see some powerful stuff. Will this be an Oscar contender? I’ll just have to wait and see.

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Source: IMP Awards

Kidnap – Halle Berry’s career has gone downhill after Oscar win for Monster’s Ball. Not to my surprise, this looks like a generic action thriller about a mother trying to save her son from getting kidnapped. I wouldn’t be surprised if this hardly makes any money at all. Moving right along.

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Source: IMP Awards

Wind River –Taylor Sheridan has crafted one of the best screenplays of last year with Hell or High Water. It features sheer intensity and characters with a razor-sharp wit. Wind River is his directorial debut; receiving positive reception at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen star as two agents investigating a murder of a Native-American girl in the most remote area in the United States—Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation. Co-starring Gil Birmingham (who also starred in Hell or High Water and—yes—as Jacob’s father from the Twilight saga), I cannot wait for some end-of-summer thrills.

August 11

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Source: IMP Awards

Annabelle: Creation – The popular Conjuring franchise opened up with an eerie scene where two girls are being interviewed about their Annabelle doll being possessed by a spirit. Following a terrible prequel/spin-off featuring the ventriloquist doll and a fantastic sequel to The Conjuring, Lights Out director David F. Sandberg brings the audience back how Annabelle actually came to be. This is the Annabelle spinoff everyone might be asking for! None of that cheap crap! Just pure atmosphere!

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Source: IMP Awards

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature – I haven’t seen the first film, and have no interest in seeing that or the sequel. Next!

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Source: IMP Awards

The Glass Castle – Brie Larson is becoming one of the best actresses working today. From winning an Oscar for the emotionally powerful Room, letting bullets fly in Free Fire, and about to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Captain Marvel, is there anything she can’t do? Star in another (seemingly) powerful indie drama, alongside Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson, based on the bestselling memoir of Jeannette Walls, growing up with three other siblings in and out of poverty.

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Source: IMP Awards

The Only Living Boy in New York – While this might have a great cast (Jeff Bridges, Kate Beckinsale, Cynthia Nixon, and Pierce Brosnan) and a talented filmmaker (Marc Webb) attached to it, but I felt absolutely nothing watching the trailer. It might go the same route as this year’s Gifted. Pretentious and manipulative. I’m skipping this one.

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Source: IMP Awards

The Trip to Spain – Following The Trip and The Trip to Italy, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are back for yet another hilarious trek through Spain. While I haven’t seen the other two films, the trailer for this one made me laugh quite a bit. I might give these films a shot.

August 18

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Source: IMP Awards

The Hitman’s Bodyguard – How can one not love Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson? Even if they star in an action-comedy together? Being in the middle of car chases and shootouts as they defeat a dictator, played by no other than Gary Oldman? I’m hoping this will be a good laugh-out-loud, shoot-‘em-up thrill ride.

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Source: IMP Awards

Logan Lucky – Steven Soderbergh is back in the director’s chair four years after Side Effects and Behind the Candelabra. He has brought back his roots of Ocean’s Eleven in this heist movie about two brothers pulling a heist during a NASCAR race in Charlotte, North Carolina. It has a talented cast including Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Seth MacFarlane, and Daniel Craig. While he’s no 007, it looks like Craig is having a blast here, along with his cast-mates. Definitely looking forward to this one!

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Source: IMP Awards

Patti Cake$ – This…looks…like it would be pretty good. I’m not the biggest fan of rap music, but I do enjoy movies having to do with rap music, such as 8 Mile and Straight Outta Compton. I have vaguely heard of it when it premiered at Sundance. This seems to be another movie about chasing one’s dreams, a theme in which I have come to admire during the past year. So—I’m in for Patti Cake$.

August 25

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Source: IMP Awards

Tulip Fever – This movie been pushed back from July 15 of last year to the last week of August. I was interested in seeing it, due to the brilliant cast including Academy-Award winners Alicia Vikander and Christoph Waltz. But now—I couldn’t care less. It just looks so dull and barely any flavor.

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Source: IMP Awards

Bushwick – Another film coming straight from Sundance. The awesome Dave Bautista stars in this futuristic tale as a war veteran joining sides with a Brooklyn resident (Brittany Snow, Hairspray and Pitch Perfect) to take down militia units. Why? Because Texas to secede from the Union and claim New York City as a negotiation tool. While the concept is intriguing enough and it looks intense, but it looks standard—more or less.

Recap:

Most Anticipated: Annabelle: Creation, Detroit, The Glass Castle, Logan Lucky, Wind River

Least Anticipated: All Saints, Kidnap, The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, The Only Living Boy in New York, Tulip Fever

I hope enjoyed reading my thoughts on what has yet to come out in the month of August. Please feel free to leave a comment on what your most anticipated movies for this month are. I appreciate each and every one of you reading my thoughts on the biggest summer blockbusters as well as some independent films. I’ll definitely do this next year. Stay tuned for that, as well as other content on this blog.