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.

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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 Actress goes to…

The film industry’s highest honor is this little statue

The nominees:

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

The winner: Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Jennifer Lawrence had a career year in 2012 and now she is an Academy Award winner

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.

Screen Actors Guild wrap-up

Another major awards ceremony for film is in the books with the conclusion of the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. The slogan for this particular ceremony, “The only show where actors vote for actors,” so Hollywood’s elite gather together to honor their colleague’s achievements in acting in the industries of film and television. Let’s take a look at who won in the film categories:

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role:

Winner: Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role:

  • Alan Arkin, “Argo
  • Javier Bardem, “Skyfall”
  • Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook
  • Phillip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”
  • Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”

Winner: Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role:

  • Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”
  • Marion Cotillard, “Rust and Bone”
  • Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Helen Mirren, “Hitchcock”
  • Naomi Watts, “The Impossible”

Winner: Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role:

  • Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
  • John Hawkes, “The Sessions”
  • Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserables”
  • Denzel Washington, “Flight”

Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture:

  • “Argo”
  • “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
  • “Lincoln”
  • “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • “Les Miserables”

Winner: “Argo”

Ben Affleck’s “Argo” takes home another prestigious film prize for Outstanding Cast at the Screen Actors Guild Awards