Thursday, May 23, 2024

Oscars: Kathryn Bigelow (“Hurt Locker”) Points to Possible Second Statue with Raves for 1967 Detroit Riots Film


Is it November? WHat the heck is going? Oscar season has begun waaaaay too early for all of us entertainment writers. But it’s good news for the movie going audience!

First we had “Baby Driver” and “The Big Sick” and “The Beguiled.” When do we ever get three terrific indie films in summer? But they were all “B” movies. (Get it?)

Then came “Dunkirk.” A masterpiece in July. A potential Best Picture winner, not just nominee. “Dunkirk” made a very strong $50.5 million this weekend, too. It’s a box office hit. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Now comes Kathryn Bigelow’s “Detroit,” written by her collaborator Mark Boal. They received Oscars for “The Hurt Locker” and kudos galore for “Zero Dark Thirty.”

“Detroit” was just screened for newspaper critics and has scored a 100 on Rotten Tomatoes. The rest of us will see it today and Wednesday. By then “Detroit” should be at 200!

This is the first release as a distributor from Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Films. In a few short years, Annapurna has racked up a bunch of quality hits that other studios — like The Weinstein Company and Fox–released. Now they’re on their own, and their first out of the gate seems like a winner.

Todd McCarthy writes in The Hollywood Reporter: “Intense and physically powerful in the way it conveys its atrocious events, the film nonetheless remains short on complexity, as if it were enough simply to provoke and outrage the audience. It’s a grim tale with no catharsis.”

Owen Gleiberman says in Variety: “…this is no comforting drama of social protest. It’s closer to a hair-trigger historical nightmare, one you can’t tear yourself away from.”

“Detroit” is based on an incident that took place during the 1967 riots (exactly 50 years ago). Some of the characterizations are fictional to create characters, but the historical facts of the riots are documented. I’m glad to hear Boal made the great R&B group The Dramatics a centerpiece of the story. (The soundtrack looks amazing.) I hope the group members were paid. Four years after the riots, the Dramatics signed to Stax/Volt Records and had two monster hits heard today all the time: “In the Rain” and “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get.” The latter might have been an alternative title for this sure to be controversial film.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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