Review: Detroit

Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s newest picture, or should I dub it a docudrama, is a hard-hitting take on the events that transpired in the Motor City in 1967. Detroit follows the individuals and actions that lead to the horrible shootout that took place at the Algiers Motel, where the police shot and killed three African-American boys suspected of firing shots at National Guardsman and the aftermath of their actions.


Image by Annapurna Pictures

Detroit is a culmination of three subplots carried by a security guard named Melvin Dismukes, a Detroit police officer named Krauss and an aspiring Motown lead singer named Larry and his friend Fred. Each of them are eventually drawn to the Algiers where bedlam, fear and senseless violence take place after the police arrive and take drastic and dangerous steps to determine who fired the suspected gun.

Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal have worked together to deliver two of the hardest hitting dramas echoing current cultural and societal issues. Detroit is no exception to the standard as it definitely packs an impact upon viewing it, but unlike The Hurt Locker and unlike Zero Dark Thirty, I found Detroit a mess.

I couldn’t get past the constant shaky Steadicam work. The cinematography of Barry Ackroyd was very unsteady to watch; I get that Bigelow wanted to go for authenticity and I respect for that but the camerawork was so over the top, I couldn’t find a way to settle.

I also found flaws in how this was written. Mark Boal is talented but I can’t help but think that he may have overdone it; especially after the film concluded and Bigelow wrote in a statement stating that a lot of the information about the events of this movie was incomplete. I understand how filmmakers can take certain liberties to enhance the appeal of a film, especially if they are based on true events but it just raises the questions how much of this film was influenced by the modern day news stories about black men killed by police for little to no reason at all.

Also I found that the script left some things unresolved by some of their characters like Dismukes, Krauss, Greene and whoever else was involved in this ordeal and managed to survive; this movie, felt incomplete primarily because of how it was written.

Bigelow made her intentions clear in Detroit and I can definitely see why she was drawn to make this movie; the problems relating to race and police violence are just as relevant and important today as they were back then and the system has not made a difference. The problem is that this film has problems and those problems dragged this film down; the writing muddles the impact and the camerawork hinders the editing of William Goldenberg and Harry Yoon, which felt very sloppy transitioning between Dismukes, Krauss, Larry and the guests at the hotel for a while.

What I can’t say is that the cast and the acting were not a problem. John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, Anthony Mackie, Nathan Davis Jr., Hannah Murray, Kaitlyn Dever and Jason Mitchell all do a fine job with their roles.

James Newton Howard’s music was fine, Jeremy Hindle’s production design was bold, the set decoration by Dennis Colvin and Kathy Lucas was sharp, the art direction by Greg Barry and Jim Wallis was good, the make-up and sound effects was top notch and the costume design by Francine Jamison-Tanchuck was very precise.

There were times where I tried to force myself to pay attention to this movie and that has never happened to me before with a Kathryn Bigelow movie. Detroit is an impactful film, it is, and it is worth seeing because it has relevance but it also has problems that are difficult to ignore and ultimately, it is disappointing.


Movie of the Week: Detroit

The tandem of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal have delivered compelling cinema over the past few years. The Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker was an intense examination of how war can be addictive to man. Zero Dark Thirty was a relentless depiction on the manhunt for the world’s most infamous terrorist and now the two are ready to take audiences back in time to one of the most recent darkest chapters in American history. In 1967, one of America’s most prominent cities was ready to explode due to racial tensions and hostilities toward the police and the incidents which occurred at the Algiers Motel, may as well lit the fuse on those tensions. It’s time to go to Detroit.

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Screenwriter: Mark Boal

Starring: John Boyega, Will Poulter, Jason Mitchell, Jack Reynor, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith, Jacob Lattimore, John Krasinski, Kaitlyn Dever and Hannah Murray.

What am I expecting to see?: From what I’ve heard going in, this movie is very polarizing; either people will enjoy it or people will see it as a mess, which is strange considering Bigelow and Boal crafted it. The subject itself is tantalizing considering how societally relevant it seems but even the great ones can make mistakes. I’m looking forward to being enlighted, educated and entertained by Detroit considering how much I enjoyed Bigelow’s last two features but I’m bracing myself for the worst all the same.

And the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay goes to…

The film industry’s highest honor is this little statue

The nominees:

  • “Amour.” Written by Michael Haneke
  • “Django Unchained.” Written by Quentin Tarantino
  • “Flight.”  Written by John Gatins
  • “Moonrise Kingdom.” Written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
  • “Zero Dark Thirty.” Written by Mark Boal

The winner: “Django Unchained.” Written by Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino’s latest film has earned him his second Academy Award for “Django Unchained”

2013 Academy Award Predictions

The 85th Annual Academy Awards are just a few weeks away

It has taken a while but I have finally seen every motion picture nominated for Best Picture for the 85th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony. As promised, I will submit my predictions as to who will win in what I like to call, the Big Eight (the two screenplay categories, the four acting categories, the directing category and the most prestigious Best Picture category). This is not a list on who I think should win, it is a list of who I think will win considering what film has won what during this year’s “Awards Season.” So hold on to your hat and let’s get started!

Best Original Screenplay:

  • “Amour.” Written by Michael Haneke
  • “Django Unchained.” Written by Quentin Tarantino
  • “Flight.” Written by John Gatins
  • “Moonrise Kingdom.” Written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
  • “Zero Dark Thirty.” Written by Mark Boal

Predicted Winner: “Django Unchained.” Written by Quentin Tarantino.

Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” is a ripe and vintage screenplay that plays to Tarantino’s strengths as a storyteller

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • “Argo.” Written by Chris Terrio
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Written by Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin
  • “Life of Pi.” Written by David Magee
  • “Lincoln.” Written by Tony Kushner
  • “Silver Linings Playbook.” Written by David O. Russell

Predicted Winner: “Lincoln.” Written by Tony Kushner.

Tony Kusher’s screenplay is based on the novel “Team of Rivals” and this screenplay was a key cog in the success of this amazing film

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:

  • Amy Adams, “The Master”
  • Sally Field, “Lincoln”
  • Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”
  • Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”
  • Jacki Weaver, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Predicted Winner: Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”

Hathaway may have had limited screen time for “Les Miserables,” but she knew how to use it to produce the best performance of the year.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role:

  • Alan Arkin, “Argo”
  • Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”
  • Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”
  • Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”

Predicted Winner: Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”

Tommy Lee Jones’ portrayal of Radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens is one of the best acting performances of 2012

Best Actress in a Leading Role:

  • Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”
  • Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour”
  • Quevanzhane Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
  • Naomi Watts, “The Impossible”

Predicted Winner: Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”

Jessica Chastain gives the most driven performance of the year as Maya, the CIA Agent who spearheaded the hunt for Bin Laden in “Zero Dark Thirty”

Best Actor in a Leading Role:

  • Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
  • Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserables”
  • Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”
  • Denzel Washington, “Flight”

Predicted Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”

The role of Abraham Lincoln is another excellent addition to the resume of master-class actor Daniel Day-Lewis

Best Director:

  • Michael Haneke, “Amour”
  • Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
  • Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”
  • David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”

Predicted Winner: Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”

Legendary director Steven Spielberg is the veteran director in the Best Director category and his influence on “Lincoln” should make him the odds-on favorite to win

Best Picture:

  • “Amour.” Produced by Margaret Menegoz, Stephan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka and Michael Katz
  • “Argo.” Produced by Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Produced by Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald
  • “Django Unchained.” Produced by Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone
  • “Les Miserables.” Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh
  • “Life of Pi.” Produced by Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark
  • “Lincoln.” Produced by Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy
  • “Silver Linings Playbook.” Produced by Donna Giglotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon
  • “Zero Dark Thirty.” Produced by Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison

Predicted Winner: “Lincoln.”

“Lincoln” had everything to be considered one of the year’s best films. It wouldn’t surprise if the film took the film industry’s top prize on Oscar night

The 85th Annual Academy Awards telecast, hosted by comedian Seth MacFarlane will air on February 24th at 7:00 p.m. The full list of nominees can be found by clicking the link provided.

Review: Zero Dark Thirty

September 11th 2001 became a day that America and the world would never forget as the actions of Osama bin Laden made him public enemy number one, sparking a ten year manhunt for the terrorist mastermind, chronicled in the latest film from Academy Award winning director Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”), “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain (“The Help,” “The Debt”) stars as Maya, a CIA operative assigned to investigate the whereabouts of bin Laden and members of his Al Qaeda inner-circle.

Witness the greatest manhunt in history in “Zero Dark Thirty”

Maya’s decade-long crusade to find the mastermind behind 9-11 begins in the Middle East, interrogating potential terrorism suspects to the point of torture and ultimately ends with the discovery of a small compound, whose inhabitants have adopted an isolationist demeanor and satellite surveillance discovering that a man who does not leave the compound entirely but has ties to Al Qaeda operations being dispatched to several working operatives arouses extreme suspicion.

Maya is dead-set certain that the man in that compound is none other than bin Laden himself and if the CIA and US military act quickly, they can capture or possibly eliminate him and deal a crushing blow to terrorist operations.

“Zero Dark Thirty” is without question a relentless and intense motion picture delivered with raw and tenacious initiative.

Kathryn Bigelow is a master of the concept of “quiet tension,” delivering the moment at its purest level of realness and then BOOM! An action occurs that leaves audiences short of breath and jumping in their seats and “Zero Dark Thirty” carries this element in spades.

Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal have delivered another high-caliber motion picture worthy of Oscar-contention. Boal crafted a thriving and pulsing story based on dramatic and real-world events, crafted it into something of a one-woman show, Bigelow brought it to prosperous life.

Jessica Chastain is superb as Maya. She is the true driving force of the film and the supporting cast just perfectly compliments her character.

Kyle Chandler (“Super 8”), Mark Strong (“Sherlock  Holmes”), Joel Edgerton (“Warrior”) and Jason Clarke (“Lawless”) were all solid but were simply out shined by Chastain’s performance. Partly because they contributed to the purpose of her relentless and innovative character.

“Zero Dark Thirty” is a must-see film because the subject matter in the eyes of a visionary director such as Kathryn Bigelow is as real as it can get.

And the Golden Globe for…

The Golden Globe Awards honor the best in the media outlets of film and television

Best Screenplay goes to

  • Mark Boal, “Zero Dark Thirty”
  • Tony Kushner, “Lincoln”
  • Quentin Tarantino, “Django Unchained”
  • Chris Terrio, “Argo”
  • David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Winner: Quentin Tarantino, “Django Unchained”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture goes to

  • Alan Arkin, “Argo”
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, “Django Unchained”
  • Phillip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”
  • Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”
  • Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”

Winner: Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture goes to

  • Amy Adams, “The Master”
  • Sally Field, “Lincoln”
  • Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”
  • Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”
  • Nicole Kidman, “The Paperboy”

Winner: Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”

Best Performance by an Actress-Comedy or Musical goes to

  • Emily Blunt, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”
  • Judi Dench, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
  • Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Maggie Smith, “Quartet”
  • Meryl Streep, “Hope Springs”

Winner: Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Performance by an Actor-Comedy or Musical goes to

  • Jack Black, “Bernie”
  • Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserables”
  • Ewan McGregor, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”
  • Bill Murray, “Hyde Park on Hudson”

Winner: Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserables”

Best Performance by an Actress-Drama goes to

  • Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”
  • Marion Cotillard, “Rust and Bone”
  • Helen Mirren, “Hitchcock”
  • Naomi Watts, “The Impossible”
  • Rachel Weisz, “The Deep Blue Sea”

Winner: Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”

Best Performance by an Actor-Drama goes to

  • Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
  • Richard Gere, “Arbitrage”
  • John Hawkes, “The Sessions”
  • Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”
  • Denzel Washington, “Flight”

Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”

Best Director goes to

  • Ben Affleck, “Argo”
  • Kathryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty”
  • Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”
  • Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”
  • Quentin Tarantino, “Django Unchained”

Winner: Ben Affleck, “Argo”

Best Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical goes to

  •  “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
  • “Les Miserables”
  • “Moonrise Kingdom”
  • “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”
  • “Silver Linings Playbook”

Winner: “Les Miserables”

Best Motion Picture-Drama goes to

  • “Argo”
  • “Django Unchained”
  • “Life of Pi”
  • “Lincoln”
  • “Zero Dark Thirty”

Winner: “Argo”

For the complete list of winners click here.

Movies of the week: Gangster Squad and Zero Dark Thirty

A battle for the soul of 1949 Los Angeles and the greatest manhunt in history kickoff 2013 at the movies.

Josh Brolin leads a small squad of cops to save Los Angeles from crime in “Gangster Squad”

This week features Ruben Fleischer’s crime drama “Gangster Squad,” starring Academy Award winner Sean Penn as ruthless Brooklyn mob-boss Mickey Cohen, who takes his enterprises to the west coast. Cohen’s rise to power eventually leads to a virtual conquest of Los Angeles and Cohen’s rule is unchallenged until a small squad of LAPD cops, led by Sgt. John O’Mara, played by Academy Award nominee Josh Brolin, go undercover to completely dismantle Cohen’s illegal operations. O’Mara’s squad wages war against Cohen’s criminal rule for the salvation of the city of Los Angeles.

Academy Award winning director Kathryn Bigelow brings the story of the decade long manhunt of 9-11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden to the big screen in “Zero Dark Thirty.” The film stars Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain as Maya, a dedicated CIA operative leading the charge in locating Bin Laden leading to the Navy seal’s May 2011 raid on Bin Laden’s compound.

What am I expecting to see?: Ruben Fleischer is stepping away from his usual comedic style to deliver something gritty yet stylized in a film-noir type of film such as “Gangster Squad.” Sean Penn looks as if he is bringing his A-game to the role of Mickey Cohen, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and Nick Nolte look good in the supporting cast and the film overall is just dripping with intense drama that earmarks the gangster film genre. I’m expecting “Gangster Squad” to begin 2013 with a bang.

"Zero Dark Thirty" is a serious award contender  this year

“Zero Dark Thirty” is a serious award contender this year

As for “Zero Dark Thirty,” this movie has been gaining incredible award momentum and justifiable critical acclaim and I’m expecting that acclaim to live up to the hype. Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal are carrying their trademark quiet tension that brought their previous Oscar-winning film, “The Hurt Locker,” such widespread recognition and prestige. Jessica Chastain is garnering much praise for her performance and this film is truly winning over the attention of audiences because of the main subject of the film and Bigelow’s name and reputation. The combination of the two makes “Zero Dark Thirty” a film that can’t be missed.