Posts Tagged ‘Jason Mitchell’

Terror at the Algiers

Detroit

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Cast: John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, Jack Reynor, Hannah Murray, Kaitlyn Dever, John Krasinski, Anthony Mackie, Ben O’Toole, Jennifer Ehle

Oscar winning director of The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow comes with an impressive resume of films including Zero Dark Thirty. In her latest film with screenwriting partner Mark Boal Detroit, they viscerally tackle police brutality and racial tension in Motown, once the centre for the American automobile industry.

Detroit features a cleverly cast group of emerging young actors including British stars John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Will Poulter (The Revenant), while director Bigelow dissects in vivid and intense detail a murderous incident at the Algiers Motel on the night of the 25th July 1967.

Bigelow goes beyond racial polarities and cinematically retells a terrible incident whereby a young group of African American men were terrorized by White police men at the Algiers Motel headed by the sadistic Krauss excellently played by Will Poulter in one of his most prolific onscreen roles.

The group of African American singers headed up by Larry played by Algee Smith are equally traumatized by the lengthy incident when all they wanted to do was establish their singing group The Dramatics hoping to raise a similar celebrity status to The Supremes as they attempt to perform in downtown Detroit when a riot causes the show to be cancelled.

This was the Midwest in 1967. The American civil rights movement was in full swing as was the deployment of troops in the infamous war in Vietnam. American society was transforming exponentially.

Detroit is an extremely important film about visual identification and racial representation made pertinent by the ongoing debate about whether director Kathryn Bigelow as a white female director is the right person to be retelling the horrific Algiers incident whereby white policemen play the death game on the group of young African American men and taunt them because they are courting two young white prostitutes Julie played by Hannah Murray and Karen played by Kaitlyn Dever.

The three policemen responsible for the incident are Demens played by Jack Reynor (Macbeth, Sing Street), Flynn played by Ben O Toole (Hacksaw Ridge) and the aforementioned Krauss. John Boyega plays Dismukes a young African American man working two jobs one in a an automobile factory and the other as a night security guard who stumbles on the events at the Algiers when Carl played by Jason Mitchell shoots a toy gun at the National guard in the midst of inner city race riots.

What stood out in Detroit was how all the characters both Black and White are affected by a heightened level of inherent violence and male aggression, something which Bigelow highlights and Detroit suggests that this aggression is endemic in American society regardless of skin colour.

Framed against the incident is also the emotional story of Larry’s refusal after the event and subsequent trial to continue performing in The Dramatics at downtown nightspots where mostly white policeman can enjoy Motown music.

The racial signifiers in Detroit are complex but the narrative tension is brilliantly executed with a resonance and skill rarely seen in contemporary cinema. Detroit is an important film for everyone to watch, contributing to a cinematic study of race relations internationally and raises pertinent questions of visual representation.

Detroit gets a film rating of 8 out of 10. Highly recommended viewing for those that enjoy intelligently told docudramas about the turbulent 1960’s in America.

Where Myths and Science Meet

Kong: Skull Island

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham, Corey Hawkins, Tian Jing, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell, Richard Jenkins, Thomas Mann

The allusions to Apocalypse Now and Joseph Conrad’s novel The Heart of Darkness are rife in newcomer director Jordan Vogt-Roberts action packed seventies set adventure film Kong: Skull Island.

Featuring an international cast including British actor Tom Hiddleston, Oscar winner Brie Larson (Room), John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly and Tian Jing (The Great Wall), Kong: Skull Island wastes no time on characterization or dramatic build up but rushes straight into an adrenaline filled action film set at the end of the Vietnam war in 1973.

With a retro seventies soundtrack to match, Bill Randa played by John Goodman and Houston Brooks played by 24: Legacy’s Corey Hawkins get the go ahead from Senator Willis briefly played by Richard Jenkins (Eat, Pray, Love) to assemble a  military team and journey to a mysterious storm ridden island in the South Pacific on an exploratory mission.

The team consists of soldiers hanging for some more action after the American withdrawal from Vietnam including Preston Packard played by Samuel L. Jackson and Cole played by Shea Whigham (American Hustle) along with anti-war photographer Mason Weaver played by Larson and golden boy James Conrad, played by Hiddleston (Thor: The Dark World).

As they approach Skull Island and drop seismic charges on the lush and malignant landscape, the team soon discover that a massive beast is guarding the island from vicious lizards. That beast is King Kong, that giant gorilla last seen on top of the Empire State building with a blond in his palm. Reference Peter Jackson’s 2005 epic King Kong.

Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts cleverly wastes no time in cutting straight to the action as various teams on the island are separated only to be individually preyed upon by a variety of nefarious creatures including giant spiders. While Packard and his band of mercenary soldiers are keen on annihilating Kong, Mason and James stumble upon Hank Marlow, a crazed but good natured World War II pilot who accidentally landed on Skull Island back in 1944 and never left, even befriending the silent locals who worship Kong as their sole protector.

Marlow is superbly played by character actor John C. Reilly, a role clearly referencing Dennis Hopper’s frenetic photojournalist in Apocalypse Now without the looming intensity of a Mister Kurtz watching over his horrific empire. Reilly brings empathy to the role of Marlow, another clear reference to The Heart of Darkness and advises the more sympathetic team that Kong is not that bad. A fact which is vividly illustrated by Mason Weaver’s wonderful encounter with the gigantic beast.

Brie Larson gives a resilient performance as the only strong female lead in a basically all male film and has the best screen time with Kong, realizing that much like those brave soldiers hunting Kong, they are all as confused about this rapid reversal in the environmental food chain.

Kong: Skull Island is unadulterated adventure, punctuated with cool photographic stills of exotic ethnography to capture a unique and terrifying experience where myth and science meet.

With the help of a groovy seventies soundtrack and a stand out performance by John C. Reilly, Kong Skull Island gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10. Highly recommended viewing.

 

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