CVIndependent

Tue11212017

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) directs Detroit, an uneven yet occasionally powerful account of the 1967 Algiers Motel incident, part of a race riot that put the city of Detroit under siege.

When a man fires off a pistol from his hotel window during intense riots, the police and National Guard converge on the Algiers—and a terrible night ensues. It results in three men shot to death, with others psychologically and physically tortured. As for the judicial rulings in the aftermath … they’re the type that are far too commonplace when it comes to law enforcement violence against people of color.

John Boyega plays Dismukes, a security guard who finds himself entangled in the bloody events perpetrated by racist policemen led by Krauss (a legitimately scary Will Poulter). The men and women held captive at the Algiers are played by a strong ensemble cast, including Jason Mitchell, Anthony Mackie, Hannah Murray, Kaitlyn Dever, Nathan Davis Jr. and Algee Smith.

The film feels a bit too fictional in spots. In an odd move, Bigelow incorporates real stock footage along with scenes meant to look like stock footage, much like Oliver Stone did in J.F.K., further confusing fact and fiction. She’s going for a documentary feel, but the script sometimes calls leads to cartoonish caricatures of its bad policemen. No doubt, some of the policemen at the hotel that night were monsters, but the portrayals of them (beyond that of Poulter) feel too cliché and, in some cases, aren’t well-acted.

There are enough strong performances to make Detroit worth your while. While some of the details seem manufactured, this is a true story that needed to be told, even if the film seems tainted by fiction at times.

Detroit is playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews

Director Jason Reitman delivers a boring, lethargic and woefully predictable look at humans and the way in which interact with the Internet: Men, Women and Children winds up being nothing more than an ugly commercial for the Ashley Madison dating services.

Adam Sandler plays a sex-addicted married man who jerks off to Internet porn and eventually begins using an escort service. Meanwhile, the wife (Rosemarie DeWitt) has started having sex with men she meets on Ashley Madison. Oooh … the Internet is bad.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Garner plays a mother who obsessively stalks the Internet activity of her daughter (Kaitlyn Dever), while Judy Greer plays a mom who has no problem creating a provocative website for her daughter (Olivia Crocicchia). That darned Internet!

Everybody in this movie is either maddeningly morose or completely deranged. Reitman may think he’s delivering some sort of time-capsule movie showing how technology is the destroyer of relationships and real human communication, but there is absolutely nothing provocative or probing about what he’s saying in this movie. It’s a total drag, squandering a talented cast and offering nothing new.

Men, Women and Children is now playing at the Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 (72777 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage; 844-462-7342) and Cinemas Palme d’Or (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-779-0730).

Published in Reviews

Brie Larson and Short Term 12 got some Oscar buzz (but were ultimately denied a nomination) for her role as Grace, a supervisor at a foster-care building full of angry and depressed teens. Larson is quite good, as is co-star John Gallagher Jr. as Mason, her boyfriend and fellow supervisor.

The film plays like a sort of juvenile One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, except that Grace is a helluva lot nicer than Nurse Ratched, and none of the teens really have the exuberance of Jack Nicholson’s McMurphy. In fact, Grace is compassionate to an extreme, which leads to some conflicts of interest when dealing with one particular girl (Kaitlyn Dever). The girl has similar problems to those suffered by Grace during her youth, so Grace gets a little too proactive—and jeopardizes her standing at the foster home.

Some of the kids are interesting, especially Keith Stanfield as Marcus, a suicidal teen slated to be released to his lousy mom. Overall, the cast is impressive, and the movie works on most levels. It’s certainly worth seeing for Larson and Gallagher, who are a mighty convincing couple.

Special Features: The film is based on a short film, which is included on the disc. You also get deleted scenes, a documentary on the film’s music, and some behind-the-scenes material. 

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing