detroit-film-review-
Detroit-Screenshot

Review: 'DETROIT' Gives Very Little To The Black Community To Hold On To

Set in July 1967, 'DETROIT' chronicles the horrific events that occured inside the Algiers Motel.

Depending on which unarmed black or brown person is killed by a white member of law enforcement, followed by a useless indictment and subsequent yet predictable acquittal, Kathryn Bigelow’s latest film DETROIT may be viewed as more than gruesome, suspense filled entertainment. For certain moviegoers, activists and surviving family members, DETROIT is a cinematic dramatization of what is lived everyday.

Set in July 1967, the two hour film begins with police shutting down an unlicensed bar known as “The Blind Pig” by forcing patrons out and lining them up on the street. While a paddy wagon takes some away, a small crowd forms shouting “What did they do?” The lookie loos grow even more incensed at the irrational parading and arrest of innocent citizens and before long rocks are thrown, glass windows to storefronts are smashed and the city is quickly ablaze. Bigelow (Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) splices in actual footage from the 1960s throughout the film which adds texture, but also acts as a cross reference to inform the audience what’s being dramatized is real.

Police couldn’t get a handle on the rioting so former Michigan Governor George W. Romney (2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s father) sends in the National Guard to “restore” order with a militarized presence outfitted in tanks.

As Detroit crumbles, an unsigned group named The Dramatics waits in the wings of a local theater practicing their routine before they go on stage in what appears to be a talent show. Led by Larry Reid (Algee Smith) the group is moments away from performing when they’re told the auditorium must be evacuated due to the violence. Reid is distraught and despite having been left by everyone save for his best friend Fred (Jacob Latimore) he sings to an empty room before finally leaving.

While the film is called DETROIT, moviegoers may be surprised to know the story is about the horrific events that occurred at the Algiers Motel, which Reid and Fred check into for the evening. There they meet Carl (Jason Mitchell) and two white girls Julie (Hannah Murray) and Karen (Kaitlyn Dever) for what’s supposed to be a harmless evening until everything “blows over.” Seeing the commotion outside, Carl fires off three or four shots from a toy gun from a second-floor window under the belief police won’t be able to determine where the shots came from. Law enforcement soon swarms the motel and it's from this point the audience is immersed head first into non-stop turmoil.

It's hard to decipher if Bigelow was drunk off the allure of dramatizing black tragedy or wanted to showcase emotional black trauma for the sake of showcasing emotional black trauma, but there is very little to hold onto in this film. The audience initially receives it in small doses in the first 30-35 minutes. Whether it be seeing police mercilessly beat a black man in the street, or a sniper shoot through an open window killing a child. The first proper heart-wrenching moment comes when Officer Krauss (Will Poulter) sees Leon (Tyler James Williams) walking out of a looted store with two grocery bags full of items. Leon gives chase and Krauss shoots him twice in the back with a shotgun as he tries to climb a fence.

As if we didn’t see Walter Scott suffer the same fate for a lesser offense.

Make no mistake, this is a horror film being marketed as a period piece and Krauss is the most ferocious villain of them all. Played by the 24-year-old U.K. born actor, for the black community Poulter’s character is the boogeyman, he is the monster under our beds and no matter how much light sneaks into our room from mama leaving our bedroom door open, Krauss is still frightening. When asked how he washed his psychopathic character away, Poulter--who is warm, open, and bright--told VIBE it was easy to walk away from the heavy role but finding an entry point into the illogical mind of a racist proved to be the most challenging.

Krauss and his two cronies Flynn (Brian O’Toole) and Demens (Jack Reynor) are born and bred domestic terrorists armed with the power of the law which only emboldens their unjustified aggression. As Reid, Fred, Karen, Julie and Greene, a veteran (Anthony Mackie) face the wall with their hands up, the three cops enact the “death game” in which they take one into a room, fire off a shot, and tell the person to be quiet “or the next one’s for real.” The others outside think their friend is dead and this is supposed to be the interrogation tactic that will inspire them to fess up to a gun that doesn’t exist. If not that, then a constant beating from fists, the butt of a gun to the temple of a forehead or any other form of violence is used.

Lingering throughout the motel is John Boyega’s character, Dismukes who has the legal authority to stop the egregious abuse of power by his fellow men in uniform, but is crippled with fear and outnumbered. Dismukes wants to intervene but is alone and offers the little help he can by advising a motel attendee to “survive the night.” Dismukes is meek, even-keeled but the equivalent to low-impact cardio. This is not to say powerful performances can’t possess gentleness, but Bigelow doesn’t offer a backstory for Dismukes leaving little, once again, for attendees to hold onto.

And if the horror of the motel isn’t enough, Bigelow takes you through the entire trial where the verdict is all too familiar. If there is one redeemable aspect to the film it would be the small role of Aubrey Pollard Sr. (Gbenga Akinnagbe). In the film, Mr. Pollard gets a phone call and learns his son was at the Algiers Motel and the gentleness that already lives in his eyes is first replaced with denial and then sorrow. Akinnagbe’s role and delivery proves one of the young men killed was loved, received love and most likely gave love. He wasn’t just another dead nigger, but yet, Akinnagbe’s role was still there as a facilitator of the pain endured.

I can’t help but wonder how this gruesome story with no silver lining would be told had the film and script been handled by a person of color. There is emotional terrorism, psychological trauma and a hodgepodge of anger and helplessness that stays with you. These scents are the cologne of an already oppressed people. The ballooning resentment and injustice that grows throughout the film is also too much to swallow, but aside from just telling the story, where Bigelow falls short is the fact the film is devoid of any real empathy. If the Academy-Award winning director assumes dead black bodies will inspire an outpouring of support for black people in America, Emmett Till’s open casket proved Sister Bigelow wrong many moons ago.

Ava DuVernay is a firm believer in showing the ramifications of being black in America. Her Netflix film 13th which chronicled the prison system was full of graphic images. Everything from Eric Garner’s chokehold death to surveillance footage of Kalief Browder being jumped inside Riker’s Island were littered throughout the film, but during an interview, the Academy-Award nominated director said she simply couldn’t end the documentary by listing the names of all the prestigious talking heads which contributed to the film. Instead, she showed pictures of black families, men, women, and children, smiling, laughing and living the part of life that black people deserve as well.

The African-American community does more than endure, Kathryn Bigelow knows this, I hope.

I also wonder who this film is for? At the bottom of the movie poster, it reads “It’s time we knew.” Who is we? And know what? If you’re black in America this story may very well be your existence, if you’re not black, well, it must be nice to personify the old adage ignorance is bliss.

DETROIT hits theaters August 4. Good luck.

From the Web

More on Vibe

Getty Images

Love To See It: DaniLeigh Choreographed DaBaby's Extraordinary "BOP" Video

Nearly reaching 10 million views in a matter of days, DaBaby's "BOP" music video teaser has A-1 editing, hilarious characters (recorder guy) and perfect choreography. As it turns out, we have DaniLeigh to thank for the rapper's smooth dance moves.

The singer-songwriter teamed up with choreographer Coach Cherry to share her eclectic dance style with the buzzing rapper. "BOP" dropped Friday (Nov. 15) as "BOP on Broadway" with a bevy of dancers taking part in the one-shot style video. Directed by Reel Goats, the teaser feels like the full music video for the single thanks to the three different dance flows including a surprising set by the iconic Jabbawockeez.

DaniLeigh's influence can be felt throughout the video thanks to her signature moves. With her own video reaching 100 million views on YouTube, the singer continued her winning streak with the remix for "Easy" featuring Chris Brown.

The video earned her a Soul Train Music Award nomination for "Best Dance Video" and inspiration for lovers of dance challenges. The Dominican-American might look familiar to many thanks to her contribution to the infamous #InMyFeelings challenge where she managed to hop and bop out of moving car. Ironically, the "Lil Bebe" singer started her career as a backup dancer for the likes of Nelly Furtado and Pharrell. She also choreographed and wrote the treatment for Prince's visuals for "Breakfast Can Wait."

"He wanted it really big in the dance industry so from there, I held auditions and did this video on my own," an 18-year-old Dani told VIBE in 2013. "It's crazy and hard to believe but it was great."

Dani recently released "Cravin" featuring G-Eazy and dropped her debut project The Plan late last year.

Check out the visuals to "BOP" below.

Continue Reading
Ryan Miller/WireImage

Solange Uses Her Divine Spirit To Calm The Mind And Body For "Bridge-s" Performance Piece

There's a serene feeling over the bodies standing in the iconic architecture at the Getty Center Museum. Jazzy horns, peaceful keys, and crisp guitar riffs gently interrupt the soothing silence as dancers dripped in marigold threads swayed to "Counting," a composition created by Solange. A series of odd numbers like "5", "7" and "9" are recited on a loop by half of her dancers while the others chant "6", "4" and "2." It's just a preview of her latest creation Bridge-s but felt like a dynamic meditation.

Bridge-s brings yet another magnetic piece into her series of interdisciplinary works that spawned after the release of her magnum opus, A Seat At The Table. The world was introduced to Solange's artistic side thanks to performance art pieces at the Guggenheim in New York and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

Composed by Solange and choreographed by Gerard & Kelly, Bridge-s was created with the pillars, beams, and columns around the museum in mind. Dancers and the orchestra used the space to their advantage, with tuba players catching the peripheral of attendees from afar.

Four rollouts will take place November 16-17, curated with a selection of films that include Black to Techno by Jenn Nkiru, AFRONAUTS and Boneshaker by Nuotama Bodomo, The State of Things by singer-songwriter Kish Robinson (Kilo Kish) and more. In its entirety, Bridge-s was designed to explore "transitions through time."

This was felt throughout the performance piece as dancers move with the intent of love, internal struggle, and unity. In a stunning zine designed by Sablā Stays, Gerard & Kelly shared the emphasis behind their modernist and inclusive approach.

"Our work, like hers, is part of an interdisciplinary effort throughout the arts and humanities to redefine modernism by critically engaging its prevailing narratives. By accounting for differences of gender, sexuality, and race. By focusing on intimate and collective histories. By centering our work around the body, dance and movement," they said.

Solange also opened up about the importance the museum and the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg played in the performance piece. "Both Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and the Getty Museum have sure strong distinctive voices spatially, and so the intention is that all of the work, the movement, the language, the songs all align with those principles," she said. "Working with Gerard and Kelly, who share many of the same philosophies on their approach to interpreting time and space through performance has really built the foundation [for] the spirit of this collaboration."

Like the rest of us, the artist watched closely the dancers glide across the floor, while bandmembers release enchanting sonnets with vocalists dropping a few high notes in between. Guests like Thundercat (and his Pikachu backpack), Kilo Kish, Dev Hynes of Blood Orange and Tyler, The Creator were also left speechless after the performance.

“I just want to thank you guys for allowing me the space to evolve, experiment and express new frontiers,” Solange said to the crowd after the assembly provided endless cheers.

Learn more about Bridge-s and get free tickets here.

Continue Reading
Nic Harcourt hands Quincy Jones the AKG Lifetime Achievement Award.
Courtesy of AKG

A Night Of Timeless Moments: AKG Honors Quincy Jones At 'History of Making History' Event

Quincy Jones can hang.

As AKG Audio's special event honoring the legendary composer in Hollywood came to an end just before midnight on Tuesday (Nov. 12), the 86-year-old was in the third hour of meeting guests. Sitting on a piano bench with a wide smile, Jones showed genuine love, laughs and hugs with every fan who had their own special story of how his work changed their lives.

Jones and innovative sound leaders AKG Audio have a lot in common. For the last seven decades, both have commanded the world to open their ears to new styles of technology, music, and production. It's a bond that brought the two to the Capitol Records Tower for "A History of Making History: Celebrating 70 Years of AKG," an event honoring the massive brand while tipping its hat off to one of the most important music composers of all time.

Jones accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award in front of an intimate crowd that included guests like singer-songwriter Daley, Maejor, Bobby Brackins, Jones' protege Jacob Collier, longtime friend and host Nic Harcourt, and many more captivated by the musician.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Quincy Jones, the legendary composer, producer and founder of @VIBEMagazine, was honored last night in Hollywood by @akgaudio with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to music for over the last 7 decades. Check out our stories for more with Mr. Jones and AKG’s legendary role in the history of headphones! #AKGX70

A post shared by VibeMagazine (@vibemagazine) on Nov 13, 2019 at 8:51am PST

"Thank you from the bottom of my soul," Jones said. "This is as good as it gets for an 86-year-old bald-headed beep bopper (Laughs). Seven kids, eight grandkids; life is great. I hope you all experience a long, long life filled with love to share, health to spare, and most importantly, friends who care."

“Throughout his legendary career, Quincy Jones has created some of the most iconic records in the history of the recording industry and we are honored to present him with a Lifetime Achievement Award,” Erik Tarkiainen, Vice President of Global Marketing, HARMAN Professional Solutions tells VIBE. “For 70 years, AKG has been creating headphones and microphones that empower the spirit of creativity and innovation, and no one embodies that spirit more than Quincy.”

Some of AKG's classic mics were on display like the model Beyonce used for the album 4 and another used by both the late 2Pac and Luther Vandross. Jones even shared how he's used their products over the years.

"For almost seven decades in this business as a musician, composer, arranger, conductor and producer, I have always gone for the music that gives me goosebumps. And whether it was Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Sinatra and the Count Basie Orchestra, the Brothers Johnson, Michael Jackson, the artists who contributed to the recordings of "We Are The World", right up until today, without fail that music was delivered through AKG audio products,” Jones said. “As you celebrate your 70th anniversary, I have no doubt in my mind that AKG will continue to be an essential part of the music recording and listening experience for many, many more decades to come."

Collier's covers revealed just how sharp Jones' ears remain over the years. Collier's jazz-tinged covers of Jones' compositions like "Human Nature" (Michael Jackson), "Fly Me To The Moon" (Frank Sinatra) and "Give Me The Night" (George Benson) included jazz and R&B blends with the multi-instrumentalist using his voice as the most powerful card in the deck. The Grammy-winning artist's performance was a gift to the audience and to Jones, as he sat front and center enjoying an icicle and while tapping his shoe to the new-wave rhythms.

Just before Collier united the room, several studios at Capitol Records acted as classrooms. One studio featured a conversation between Harcourt and acoustics expert Dr. Sean Olive where they touched on the history of AKG's role in the headphone industry, dating back to 1949's AKG DYN Series. Another room included the stems of Quincy's most iconic production—Michael Jackson's "Thriller"—available on laptops for guests to mix while AKG's latest releases like the AKG K361 and K371 were on display. In the Crow's Nest studio rested with elation is Ramzoid, who offered his own remix to Jones' music.

One of the main studios featured a DJ set by Austin Millz, one of the creatives behind D’USSE Palooza and admirer of Jones. "It was an honor to play for the Quincy Jones/AKG event," he tells VIBE. "Quincy is one of my biggest influences in music. His path, journey and all his contributions in music is countless and is a great example of setting the tone for what is an extraordinary career. His accolades and what he stands for is exemplary. Last night was a night that I will never forget."

The bubble with Jones and AKG was a music lover's paradise. As the legendary composer continues to receive his flowers, new and old friends are learning more about him each and every day. "It's the left brain and science," he said of the intersection between God-given instrumental talent and technology. "You have to master the rules before you can break them, so you better know what you're doing."

Continue Reading

Top Stories