Dearest Blog: Yesterday it was off to Marquee Cinemas for Detroit and The Dark Tower.
Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers or the news.
First on the docket, Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit.
During the Detroit Rebellion of 1967, a handful of city cops terrorize young people staying at the Algiers Hotel.
Dear reader(s), you know when I call a movie "must-see," it's usually gonna be some big, dumb actioner with a current obsession not *quite* getting enough screen time for my liking. Evidence: that latest Transformers movie that everybody hates? Yeah, that'll be skirting my Top Ten come year's end. However, here I must break with tradition to suggest emphatically that everyone get out and see Detroit. It is a very, very important movie and a timely reminder of what happens when we allow some people to be treated as less than others.
Detroit opens with a clever sequence that brings viewers who might not be familiar with this event up to speed, and from there it's a slow burn into chaos. The movie is never in a hurry to get where it's going, yet there are millions of things happening all at once. Point of view is personal rather than general, with dialogue so natural as to seem unscripted. I'm no fan of Bigelow's jiggly camera work, but I couldn't look away from the terrifying events playing out onscreen. There is no sugar-coating, there are no cookie-cutter characters, and the performances are uniformly extraordinary. Of special note, as usual, is John Boyega in a smart, sympathetic turn. The violence and torment are up close and personal, at times nearly impossible to watch. The movie builds to its unsettling climax with such tension you might not even realize you're holding your breath. This is no fun summer flick; it's challenging and exhausting. (For the record, I ran straight to the ladies' room and threw up when it ended, and it's had me in tears more than a few times since.) Detroit is smart enough not to leave it to viewers to distinguish between "based on a true story" and "inspired by actual events;" it freely acknowledges that its account relies on the recollections of people who were under not-a-little duress during these events. No fun summer movie, Detroit will stay on your mind long after you exit the theatre.
Detroit clocks in at 143 minutes and is rated R for "strong violence and pervasive language."
A headline I saw earlier this morning said, "Detroit is going to hurt, but it's worth it," and that's about the best way to sum up this brilliant but difficult movie.
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Detroit gets eight.
Fangirl points: Not to take away from the seriousness of this picture, but I can't imagine a more beautiful human than Anthony Mackie exists anywhere in the universe. *le sigh*
Next on my agenda was the first big-screen shot at Stephen King's Dark Tower series.
The Last Gunslinger hopes to stop the Man in Black from toppling the Dark Tower, which protects the world from evil...or something like that. (I'm pretty close, right?)
Not having read this book series from Stephen King, and having heard nothing good about this adaptation prior to seeing it, I was prepared to state that--while I understood it might not meet the expectations of book fans--the movie is perfectly passable entertainment for the rest of us.
Sadly, after nearly nodding off twice in just an hour and a half, I had to rethink that opening.
The Dark Tower is just a bad movie, and that's without even being able to speak to its failings by comparison to the books. It feels like, at some point very early in its making, all the Stephen King forces in the universe decided to focus their positive energy on the remake of It and deserted this entirely. (I guess the good news is my pretty busy cinema seemed to soil its collective drawers at the It trailer that preceded Dark Tower, so King may be redeemed rather quickly.) The Dark Tower's characters are so broadly drawn you'll only care what happens to any of them if you have a vested interest in the actor(s). Shallow storytelling provides very few answers, but leaves lots of question marks, for anyone unfamiliar with the source material. Clearly this was meant to set up a franchise, but if it's to do so with any success it'll need serious retooling. Man in Black Matthew McConaughey is as bland as ever (can't spell "McConaughey" without "ugh!") as a paper-doll baddie who's about as menacing as my little Cockapoo. Idris Elba is smokin'--and I mean SMOKIN'--hot as the Gunslinger, but the role is so poorly fleshed out it scarcely taxes his ability or charisma. Effects are pedestrian at best, and the action (such as it is) is accented by a comically-melodramatic score.
The Dark Tower runs the slowest 95 minutes ev-ah and is rated PG13 for "thematic material, including sequences of gun violence and action."
I truly had hoped to buck the trend and declare the Dark Tower passable entertainment for a summer afternoon, but, sadly, it can't meet even that low bar. Of a possible nine Weasleys, the Dark Tower gets two.
Fangirl points: OMG you guys...Idris Elba! (Teeny-weeny spoiler alert: When a boy says to the Gunslinger, "I dreamt about you!" I'm pretty sure I said out loud to the screen, "Me too!")
Until next time...