REVIEW: “DETROIT” (2017) MGM Pictures

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With “DETROIT” Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s new turn at making another hard-hitting film, just doesn’t connect completely. Though again, Bigelow takes on delicate subject matter with the expertise of a great filmmaker, and it is a very good film – for about 60 minutes of the 2 1/2 hour run time.

‘Detroit’ takes place in 1967 during the midst of the riots after a black owned Blind Pig bar where patrons were kicked out due to lack of liquor license and eventually leads to the towns people rioting and destroying the nearby businesses, even with tags of “Soul Brother” as a way to try to protect their black owned business. However, most of the film centers around the several young men and 2 women staying in the Algiers Motel. Carl Cooper (Jason Mitchell) has a starter pistol which he shoots in the air, and police mistaken it for a sniper, and begin to surround the Algiers and harass and intimidate the guests beyond recovery.

‘Detroit’ is filmed wholly hand-held, and the shakiness that comes along with that direction choice is effective and not the nausea-inducing type that can sometimes happen with this type of filming, The opening scenes before the riots even start and as watch them proceed brought a note of flashbacks for me, having been through the L.A. riots, it’s not something you easily forget. The storyline that follows is where the weakness of the film sets in. If I didn’t know that this was actual history, I would have thought this part to be made up as you get introduced to the characters Larry (Algee Smith), Michael (Malcolm David Kelley), Morris (Joseph David-Jones), Jimmy (Ephraim Sykes) and Fred (Jacob Latimore) who make up the singing group the Dramatic’s. Once they are told to leave the stage before their biggest performance to date, because of the riots is where the film really starts to kick in. This is where the shocking nature of what takes place really begins and you will be set on edge throughout the next 60 minutes by what unfolds in front of you. It’s also where we meet the rest of the characters to whom this appalling and disturbing event happens to.

Dismukes (John Boyega), the security guard who witnesses everything that happens, though honestly, I don’t think he was in the position to stop what was happening. Julie (Hannah Murray) & Karen (Kaitlyn Dever) are the two white girls who happen to be at the hotel also, partying with their African-American male friends Green (Anthony Mackie) Aubrey (Nathan Davis Jr.) and Lee (Peyton Alex-Smith), which in the 1960’s still was not accepted. This alone creates tension that is only ratcheted up little by little as the film progresses. At this point we also meet the police officers involved Karuss (Will Poulter), Demens (Jack Reynor) and Guardsmen Flynn (Ben O’Toole) who along with the terrifying nature of the situation, help make this feel like what happened is something out of a horror film.

Every actor here gives a near flawless performance. this is actually a film without a standard Hollywood- style star. These actors are treated as equally important details in a larger event. The performances here are emotional, powerful, but most of all, real and feel instead as though each actor embodies the real life people that lived through these events and that let you get to know them as people, allowing you to genuinely care about them.

While this is a great film, it is a hard watch. This is an emotionally grueling film for the most part. With that being said, the two and a half hour run time of this film is exhausting and the length is something that can really work against this film. While I do recommend it as a watch because of it’s intrinsic value that it carries, it’s not as brilliant of a watch as I expected it to be.

Grade: B-
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Review Screening – Wednesday, August 2, 2017 ~ Courtesy of LAFTV Film Group
“Detroit” will be in theatres nationwide on Friday, August 4, 2017

REVIEW: “THE REVENANT” ~ POST Q & A ~ LEONARDO DICAPRIO/DIR: ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU/PROD: STEVE GOLAN & MARY PARENT

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Since I was lucky enough to be part of the first ever audience to see this remarkable picture with Leonardo DiCaprio & Alejandro González Iñárritu doing the post Q & A along with producers Steve Golan & Mary Parent ~ I think I can safely tell you all…Prepare to be blown away as I’ve personally never seen a film of this magnitude in my life. And here I thought Alejandro couldn’t outdo last years epic ‘Birdman’, well I was wrong. He can and he did.
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Along with the sure-fire Oscar gold performance of Leo DiCaprio here, ‘The Revenant’ follows the true story of the epic adventures of frontiersman Hugh Glass. It is also about someone trying to survive using the extraordinary power of the human spirit. In an expedition of uncharted America back in the fur trading days, legendary explorer Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), is brutally mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own team. the revenant 7

In an effort to survive, and with a full heart of unimaginable grief and betrayal of trust by John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and Jim Bridger (Will Poulter) for the death of his son, Glass is buried alive with injuries most would not be able to withstand. Full of anger he goes to the end of what is uncharted wilderness to find Fitzgerald and Bridger. Guided by sheer will and love for his son, Glass navigates a severe winter in the relentless pursuit to live and find redemption. And revenge. Yes, revenge, because make no mistake about it..this is a film of someone seeking revenge in it’s purest form. the revenant 4

While there are some tough-to-watch graphic scenes in this film, it’s a spectacle that really must be experienced both visually and story-wise. While you can pick up the book and spoil it for yourself – don’t!!!! – this is truly something that must be experienced completely on your own. the revenant 3

The no longer-young boy from Titanic, DiCaprio’s phenominal performance here, in which his character is alone and doesn’t speak for much of the two and a half hours of running time that he carries the film, is joined in tandem by the remarkable Tom Hardy. Here again, the man of many accents has another one, not sure where he picks them up, but they do serve him well. He is the villian of sorts here, but is it that or is he just trying as they all are, to survive the harshness of life in these times. With a supporting cast of Domhnall Gleason as Andrew Henry, Brendan Fletcher as Fryman and Grace Dove to name just some of the mixed cast of French, Native American and American actors that provide the makeup of this of ensemble cast.
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This film is as big as it is bold and like nothing I’ve ever seen before, with many a dark and brutal moments that might be to much for some in the audience. Take that as a serious warning as I saw many seat squirmings and some scenes stayed with me for some time after, but I also loved every minute of this film and for me,  I see #OSCAR#OSCAR#OSCAR written all over it.

Grade: A+

Screening: Sunday, November 22, 2015 ~ Courtesy of the Producers Guild of America & 20th Century Fox.
And a quick shoutout to my movie-going BFF – Jason Watters for only with his invitation was I able to be part of the 1st audience and wonderful experience. Thank you so much!!!
Nationwide release: Friday, January 8, 2016

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POST Q & A WITH Leonardo DiCaprio/Alejandro González Iñárritu/Steve Golen and Mary Parent

Starting off with many questions to regarding the film’s production that has already attracted controversy after reports that it became “a living hell”, with some members of the crew quitting and being fired. Iñárritu noted “As a director, if I identify a violin that is out of tune, I have to take that from the orchestra,” “I have nothing to hide,” the director said. “There were problems, but none of them made me ashamed.” The budget also swelled from $60m to $95m.

In the Q & A, Iñárritu described making the film as “almost like an impossible task” — and when asked about his first day on the set, DiCaprio smiled and said, “To tell you the truth, it’s all a beautiful blur to me.”
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Leo noted that while the book is based on a true life story..but the stories being those told around the campfires of those days in time also can be full of embelishments etc.. it’s like when you tell a story to a person and it travels through 10 people it becomes a different story. There is no way to verify it and he could only read for reference stories told and written by these men. DiCaprio described it as “almost a silent movie performance from me” it’s a father/son story..a love story and a ‘bear’ of a story all wrapped in one.

The script had been floating around for some time but no one could picture how they could possibly make a film of this magnitude with Iñárritu originally passing on the project some time ago. Iñárritu said some days they only had 45 minutes of workable shoot time, other days an hour and a half tops with hours sometimes being take to intricately set up the shot required. They were at the mercy of the weather, which at one point dropped to 40 degrees below zero.
Alejandro noted that the pressure on Leo was immense as once everything was set up..it was up to him to carry it out and lead the way in the short time span avail to them. If he didn’t, then they would have to start all over again the next day. leo & alejandro 1
Rehearsals, they said, took months, with elaborate camera moves worked out with the actors before they ever went to the wilderness locations, many of them near Calgary, Canada. “You felt an intensity, and a unity with the whole crew that you had to grasp the entire shot every day,” said DiCaprio.
Probably my favourite quote by director Alejandro González Iñárritu in answering a question regarding the beauty and harshness of the wilderness in which they shot he noted: “the sky is omnipresent.”

Review: “THE MAZE RUNNER” (2014) 20th Century Fox

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Add this movie onto the list of post-apocalyptic teen romps that see’s a ‘rebel’ hero fight back against whatever system is denying him/her, except that this one is no where near as good as say the “Hunger Games” or even “Divergent” series.. It’s along the lines of a bad “Twilight” movie – wait..were any of those really good..ok..you have your answer. ha!  Let’s just say unless your in the median of 11-15yrs of age, you might end up feeling like I did..which was..”Why did I spend money on this movie when there are soooo many other films that have got to be better, to be seen. 😀

 

 

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To be fair, it’s not all horrible. Really it isn’t. It, like all the others, is also based on a book, from which I gather is A LOT better than the movie and that happens with all sorts of book-to-film projects.  My beef with this one was it just all happened so fast, you could see it all coming and it wasn’t as near as suspenseful as it could have been.  The movie follows “Thomas” (Dylan O’Brien) who finds himself transported and trapped into the Glade, an all-boys encampment of sorts, fending for themselves, where every month someone new is ‘delivered’ along with supplies.  No one has any memory of how they got there, why they are there etc. Except we know that there is a big maze which according to leader of the pack, “Alby” (Aml Ameen) goes furthers than we can possibly imagine, moves and changes every night and he has a group of the some of the boys he designated as ‘runners’ to try and map out the maze.  One problem..there is also creatures that live in the maze called “Grievers”  which is a cross between a spider & scorpion, that of course kill anyone that tries and are some of the worst movies creatures I’ve seen in quite some time.. You know the dumdedumdum roll when they announce, ‘no one has ever made it over night in the maze’  because of course that means that Thomas, our hero, is going to have to get the job done!!. ZZZZZzzzzzzz   There is the usual rumblings when he tries and then when the first girl they’ve ever had, “Teresa” (Kaya Scodelario) shows up in the transport and actually knows the name Thomas..well then everyone goes into an uproar.  This is where they could’ve really taken the film some place intriguing but failed to.

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So as not to give the entire plot away..because if you’re watching the movie and you don’t see it coming, it’s because you’re under 18.. ha! Seriously, not making that much fun of it because I like some of these movies just fine..hey I even read/saw all the Twilight books/movies..(I know I know..there were points that it was reeeally hard to do), And I find the acting by a lot of this cast to be pretty good…I especially liked “Gally” (Will Poulter), “Minho” (Ki Hong Lee), “Newt” (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and of course “Chuck” (Blake Cooper) who provided the bit of comic relief needed in this tale.  I would have probably loved this movie much more had there been maybe a more “Lord of the Flies’ element to it. I mean they tried a little to do it, but it just didn’t come off as scary, thrilling or creepy and it certainly could have used that aspect to jazz it up some.

Grade: C- if you liked Twilight you will like this  ha!   D  for all others 😀

(see grading scale)

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