Posts Tagged ‘Will Poulter’

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.

The Wild Ones

The Revenant

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Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Lukas Haas, Paul Anderson

According to the Oxford Dictionary, Revenant means a person who has returned supposedly from the dead.

According Oscar winning Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant has a far deeper mythical connotation. After the success of Birdman, Inarritu follows up that whimsical taste of Broadway with a gruelling historical epic, The Revenant casting two of the best leading actors in contemporary cinema: Leonardo di Caprio and Tom Hardy.

The Revenant is a harsh masculine film, set in the American wilderness in 1823, the early years of settler exploration along the Missouri river near the Canadian border. Gorgeously shot by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant takes on a slightly Terence Malick feel in the first hour, but then the audience is thrust into a bitter tale of survival about a group of men who are not only attacked by roaming Pawnee Indians but by the neighbouring French.

DiCaprio plays a bearded and mostly silent yet skillful tracker Hugh Glass in one of his best performances for years. DiCaprio’s role is so grueling and utterly physical that is completely opposite to anything done by the actor before which makes it all the more engrossing to watch. His previous roles in The Great Gatsby and The Wolf of Wall Street focused on characters that were debauched and surrounded by lavish wealth and power.

In The Revenant, this is DiCaprio laid bare both physically and psychologically as he battles the most hostile terrain in the icy parts of North America. In probably the best scene of the film, Glass is viciously attacked by a grizzly bear and severely injured, the filming of this scene deserves an Oscar in itself. Glass is left for dead by the half-scalped hunter and dangerous John Fitzgerald, in a career best performance by Tom Hardy who manages to permeate all his scenes with the same chilling sense of menace as he did, playing Bane in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises and most recently as both the Kray twins in Legend.

The tension between the two men is palpable although Hardy is the one with the most lines, while Di Caprio expresses his pain with his eyes and body, an entirely physical ordeal, a gut-wrenching soul destroying battle for survival. The environment too has own character as these two men not only battle each other but also have to survive in a semi-explored icy landscape, where settlers and native American Indians are bartering and killing each other in a continuous bloodthirsty war over land, occupation and women.

Ethnographically, The Revenant is an important film, a vivid tale about the early American settlers who encounter the other, or the savages as the French call them. A primal battle which Inarritu elevates to myth, beautifully capturing the essence of the unforgiving yet stunning landscape, while emphasizes the terrain’s nefarious creatures and events, from vicious bears to avalanches.

At two and a half hours long The Revenant is not easy viewing and, the viewer does get a sense that the second act drags a little, yet the performances are so captivating and the sound editing so brilliant, that any minor criticisms can be forgiven. Warning: this is not an easy film to watch.

The Revenant is violent, gory and at times just plain cruel, but also sets the standard high for revenge themed adventure tales. Hardy and DiCaprio are both utterly terrific. The Revenant is a highly recommended and critically acclaimed film sure to attract a cult following.

Cinematically, The Revenant is nothing short of a masterpiece.

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