Detroit: Movie Review. Kathryn Bigelow just keeps on delivering.


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It’s fair to say that Kathryn Bigelow is on a roll.

Her last three movies (Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty and now Detroit) have been gut busting horror shows about the human condition.

I love that Kathryn Bigelow sits in the ‘male’ directors’ chair.  I love hat she must be and should be a feminist icon, because she does the sort of movies that she makes much better than most men make them.

Kathryn Bigelow likes an explosion, a gun, a death.  But her female perspective on this raises it from guts and gory/glory into something higher.  Something more profound.

Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker both took on war as the subject matter.  This does too, but it’s the war of the races.  The war of oppression by white men upon black in the Summer of Love.

Ironic, because this is a film about hate.  Racism. Supremacy.

It opens with a short animation that perfectly encapsulates America’s fundamental tic.  The thing that won’t go away.  The displacement of race.  From the displacement of American Indians to the displacement of Africans to the slave plantations of  the Deep South and latterly their displacement into the Northern industrial cities like Detroit.

This displacement, in fact, displaces the white ruling class into the suburbs and that’s the start of deep tension and resentment.

We have witnessed this in the UK too, as gentrification of once unfashionable districts has displaced both black and white working classes into modern day ghettos.  And it aint stopping any day soon.

What Bigelow achieves with this movie is a political calling cry to any liberal minded decent human being, regardless of colour or creed.  It vilifies the atrocious white police force of late sixties Detroit  (Yet, I don’t think Detroit itself was much different from other places – there were riots in Harlem for instance and we all know about 1980’s LA).

She creates an almost documentary feel that is more 4D than any of the 4D Sh!t you’ll see in multiplexes.  Because this is for real.

Apart from the relatively well known John Botega (brilliant thank you) her massive ensemble cast is star-free.  That’s kinda how she rolls.

But each and every one of the 20 or so leads (yes 20) will have had life-affirming, and early career defining, roles in this epic.

But one stands out above all else in this majestic movie.

Will Poulter.

The actual devil incarnate.

Were he real, not an actor, he should rot in hell.  But he’s only an actor and his performance is surely Oscar worthy. You simply despise this evil racist bastard.  And he is unflinching in his evilness.  The smirk at the end of the movie almost gets you out of your seat.

This is a truly great movie.  A movie that should be syllabus material on any High School history course.

Kathryn Bigelow and her team (especially writer Mark Boal) deserve all the awards that this movie will hopefully receive.

Mother!: Movie Review. Will have film students hard at work for years.


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Darren Aronofsky has followed up his biblical epic, Noah, with another biblical horror story starring Jennifer Lawrence (his partner in real life) and Javier Bardem.

Whilst advance publicity had suggested this might be heavily inspired by Rosemary’s Baby this is not in fact the case.  Far from it.  Rosemary’s Baby is about the birth of Satan. This is not.

I found it helpful to know in advance what the premise of this film was and there is  a brilliant deconstruction of the plot in this article in the Telegraph.  You may not want to know before you see it, but it’s a great read after the fact and confirmed most of my assumptions about the heavy allegory and metaphor used in the movie.

To make two consecutive biblical films is surprising because Aronofsky has declared his atheism but presumably the source material is such brilliant storytelling that he simply could’t resist.

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What results in mother! is a film of such epic proportions, such horror, such artistry that at times your jaw actually drops.  Aronofsky stops at nothing.  There are no sacred beliefs that he cannot explore or visualise.  What he does not do is ridicule them.  This is a representative telling of Genesis, the New Testament,  earth science theory and sustainability all wrapped in one great gothic whole.

And it’s gorgeous, sumptuous and creepy.

The performances by Bardem and Lawrence are electrifying, albeit their togetherness as man and wife seems unlikely, but as the plot unravels it’s obvious why.

The appearance of a married couple in the shape of Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer (both extraordinary performances) into their lives is startling in its aloofness and cruelty.  One feels Lawrence’s panic bubbling over as the idyll she is trying to create in an island home is about to gradually unwind.

And unwind it does; in increasingly spectacular fashion.

I’m not going to go into spoiler territory (read the Telegraph article for that (after you’ve seen the movie) so I’ll stop here.

Suffice it to say that although this won’t appeal to many; for those that it does this is a truly great movie.

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Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile. Separated at Birth.


This is outrageously great; both as a meeting of songwriting minds with its resultant musical output, but also as a video.

It’s genius.  “Hey guys, you look like each other.” let’s swap your voices and dress Kurt in all white and Courtney in all black then mirror all your moves in black and white in the countryside.”

“Dude, done!”

(I wonder if one’s shot in Oz and one in USA? That would seem to make sense as they never actually come together.)

Boom! what a fucking result.

Extraordinary.

(And there’s an album to come.  I canna wait for that.)

It: Movie review.


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Right.  This is ‘Stranger Things: The Fucking Nightmare’.

Which means it’s; ‘ET, The Goonies, Stand by Me: The Fucking Nightmare.’

Not least because it stars Finn Wolfhard.

And, if nothing else it has unearthed the preternaturally beautiful Sophia Lillis, as Beverley, who, like Wolfhard, surely has a massive career ahead of her.

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It is proper scary.

Kids fight monsters.  What’s not to like?

Nothing beats proper scary in my book and few writers create scariness better than Stephen King.  The Shining and Carrie are two of the best horror films ever made and this is his hat-trick.

We open in year 27 (1989 with lots of neat historical references) of a 27 year cycle in which mayhem descends on the small town of Derry (in Maine?) and follows a group of Losers; geeks, fatties, stutterers, black kids, scaredycats and a tomboy with attitude (Beverley) who also provides the love interest.

The movie starts with stutterer Bill (beautifully played by Jaeden Leiberher) losing his beloved younger brother, Georgie, to a demonic clown who lives in the town’s sewers.  It’s the start of a series of disappearances amongst children in the town.  And the clown, played superbly by Bill Skarskgard, called Pennywise is out to wreak havoc having been let loose in year 27.

The movie has plenty of jumps.  And some of the appearances of Pennywise are frankly terrifying.

Despite its length, over two hours, it maintains interest throughout and the story develops brilliantly.  Top marks to director Andy Muschietti who is adept at creating mood, atmosphere and moments of humour.

“Who invited Molly Ringwold” asks Wolfhard in reference to the short red haired Beverley.  It’s a laugh out loud moment (and Wolfhard has them all).

There’s a neat subplot about school bullying (that begins a little cliched but develops nicely) with a good performance from Nicholas Hamilton as a proper bully, Henry Bowers.

But the heart of the movie is dedicated to scaring the fucking shite out of you.

And it succeeds triumphantly.

It’s a great horror movie.  It really is.