Tracker Pixel for Entry

​A riot going on: Bigelow revisits “Detroit”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | August 9th, 2017

Kathryn Bigelow, to this day the only woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director, makes an admirable if flawed attempt to fictionalize key components of Detroit’s 1967 12th Street Riot.

Timed in part to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the incendiary actions that resulted in 43 deaths and more than 7000 arrests, Bigelow -- working for the third time with “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty” scripter Mark Boal -- concentrates on the so-called Algiers Motel Incident in which three black male civilians were murdered by white police officers.

“Detroit” is carried along by Bigelow’s visceral facility for violence, but the filmmaker struggles to grasp the psychological interiority of the sprawling ensemble, whether black or white, guilty or innocent.

At 143 minutes, “Detroit” attempts to cover more territory than can be effectively addressed within the genre parameters of the “fact-based” history lesson.

Following a Henry Louis Gates prologue explaining the Great Migration, a police raid on a “blind pig” leads to civil unrest that escalates until National Guard soldiers arrive.

While the details of the Algiers Motel (both verified and speculative) take up the bulk of the film’s central sections, “Detroit” rushes through the aftermath of the crime. The resulting material, a streamlined and simplified abridgement of the legal proceedings that ended in jury decisions favorable to the police officers, is so different in tone to the preceding content, it might have been eliminated in favor of a deeper look at security guard Melvin Dismukes (John Boyega).

Boyega does absolutely anything and everything he can with Dismukes, often wordlessly conveying the unthinkable circumstances of being witness to a terrible and dangerous situation that continues to deteriorate. As the sole person of color depicted in a frontline position of any authority during the terrorizing perpetrated by a small group of white cops, Dismukes is shown multiple times making instant decisions that imply a desire to do whatever he can to protect the “suspects” caught up in the horrific “death game” of racist ringleader officer Philip Krauss (Will Poulter).

The filmmakers, however, only gesture toward the question of Dismukes’ possible complicity in the nightmare.

Past and present remain in uncomfortable proximity, and the astonishing period detail is just about the only signpost we have to separate the Algiers from constant contemporary examples of unarmed black men dead after coming into contact with police.

More than one critic has identified Bigelow’s grim and unflinching construction of brutality and mayhem as torture porn, and Krauss’ repetitive tactics certainly suggest that Bigelow was -- rightly or wrongly -- deliberate in her decision to take viewers through the punishing details of the gruesome “interrogations.”

Read as horror movies, “Detroit” and “Get Out” exist in distinctly different realms, but the readings of violence, ranging from A. O. Scott (“The specific, close-up acts of cruelty you witness are comprehensible as manifestations of a systemic, continuing and frequently invisible pattern of injustice.”) to Angelica Jade Bastien (“What is the value of depicting such nauseating violence if you have nothing to say about how that violence comes to pass or what it says about a country that has yet to reckon with the racism that continues to fester within its very soul?”) will continue to divide opinion regarding the film’s effectiveness.

Recently in:

FARGO – Ellen Chaffee wanted to know how much lobbyists were spending to influence North Dakota legislators. Online searches ended in dead ends. As the founders of North Dakotans for Public Integrity, Chaffee and Dina Butcher…

by Ryan Jankeryanjanke@hpr1.comZero Gravity Alternative Fitness will present their annual Halloween showcase this Saturday at their studio in south Fargo. The event, aptly named Poletergeist II, is a chance for students and staff…

Wednesday, October 24, 6:30 - 8 p.m.Atonement Lutheran Church, 4601 University Drive S., FargoBring the kids for candy and fun! This family-friendly halloween event has fun for everyone! There will be trunk or treating outside, a…

This weekend I was showing a friend of mine some Fargo hotspots. He was visiting from the West Coast, so naturally I was playing up the Midwest’s many charms. He mentioned that one thing that differed from the West Coast was the…

Gadfly

Goodbye Democracy!

by Ed Raymond

How today’s “christians” hammered the nails into the hands and feet of christHistorian Christopher Browning, who has spent a lifetime studying the Holocaust, Nazi Germany, and the World War II era of Europe, has expressed…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

by Ryan Jankeryan.janke78@gmail.com The scent of sauerkraut will be in the air next Wednesday when the Wishek Association of Commerce hosts the 93rd Annual Sauerkraut Day festival in Wishek, ND.The city of Wishek is situated 30…

We started our interview with JBOT, Captured! By Robots front man, captive and creator by playing a small bout of phone tag. You see, his internet went out and that sent his mind racing. Once we touched base, he said, “For a…

Damien Chazelle’s fourth feature follows the trajectory common to the careers of many ambitious and talented filmmakers honored with Academy Awards: the dissipation of rawness and experimentation as budgets, expectations, and…

I came to Mineral Point, Wisconsin for the art. The tiny town among the rolling hills about 50 miles southwest of Madison is home to just 2,491 souls and 25 art galleries and studios. Any community with that much creative energy…

by Stella Mehlhoffstellamehlhoff@gmail.com“Our mission is to invigorate civic conversation through intimate and transformative storytelling.” This statement posted on Theatre B’s website and tacked to their studio wall in…

Those who have been reading my articles for a while may remember when I interviewed Zachary Tooker about the Level Two Comedy Club at the Radisson in Fargo. While the club may have unfortunately closed, Tooker has not ceased…

Beer Snob

Warm up with a hot toddy

by HPR Contributor

by Ben Myhrebenmyhre35@gmail.com Fall is once again upon us. The leaves are turning, gardens have been pulled, and Summer’s heat has waned into Autumnal frosts. Along with the change of seasons comes a change of seasonal flavors.…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

By Melissa Martinmelissamartincounselor@live.comThink back to one of your worst small decisions. Then answer the following questions:How did you make the decision?What happened after the decision?When did you know it was the worst…

There are two ways to look at the recommendation of Administrative Law Judge Patrick Ward that the North Dakota Public Service Commission dismiss the complaint against that (expletive deleted) Meridian Energy for failing to get a…