I don’t tend to talk a lot about what happened before the screening of a film, but for those that have been reading me for the last 21 years… You know about the guy that sat next to me that was murdered in the parking lot after the screening of MARS ATTACKS! All manners of crazy things that have affected my screening of certain films.
It isn’t always the day, the mentality that goes into that day… but today I was seeing Kathryn Bigelow’s DETROIT – and the day began hearing that Donald Trump was firing 15,500 Transgendered people from the combined Armed Forces. That’s why I was wearing my Camo shirt, that is made up of multiple feminine looking silhouettes – that for this day I was calling my pro-Trans in the Military shirt, usually I just think of it as Make Love Not War… but it fit the issue of the day today. However, not to make light of the situation – it’s outrageous that this was even an issue for the day. But then most of the days are filled with outrageous things that are getting in the way of doing the real business of the country.
I’ve been catching my dad up with GAME OF THRONES – and we watched Stanis’ attack on King’s Landing – which went a long ways towards just putting me in a good “Watching” state of mind. Dad loved it.
We hauled out to get to the theater early – where we found a very long line of folks baking in the heat of Texas. Everything seemed fine. As a writer, I get sat early – and FatherGeek and I took our seats and was just chill. I was gathering my thoughts about what I remembered about the Detroit riots, thinking about the first time I experienced NEAR DARK – it was a blind date – which was a double date – and was the first time I was ever on shrooms – which was a condition of the date. But as a result, I have a very special love for NEAR DARK. I was thinking of BLUE STEEL and POINT BREAK… STRANGE DAYS was her first film I covered on AICN back in year 1. She’s a brilliant filmmaker – and a story about the 1967 DETROIT Race Riots… well, what a prescient film story to tell in the here and now. I was mostly curious to watch John Boyega in this film. Since meeting him at the ATTACK THE BLOCK screening and loving his Finn in THE FORCE AWAKENS… I just want nothing but success for this guy. I pulled up IMDB as was casually browsing, when… An altercation begins to occur just 2-3 feet from me.
I was sitting next to FatherGeek in the handicap aisle. So behind me was the first row of stadium seating and a dual level black iron bar/guard rail. In the space between the seats where wheelchairs go – was divided area of seating and across the was a elder Hispanic couple I’ve known at “free screenings” for about 20 years. The wife has become more fragile – and I noticed as they came in that the husband was supporting her as her legs shaked getting to her seat. Even still they greeted me and wondered if I was doing good. I had assured them I was great.
The altercation began simply with the little lady asking the lady behind her to please lower her feet. The woman in question had sandals with bare toes about 3-5 inches from the woman’s face on the top bar. This lady has done this behind me at countless press screenings. It has never sat well with me, but I’ve heard her talk about her knee pain, I believe, over the last 10 years – so I never complained. I figure… whatever makes someone happy. Fine. No harm. No foul – other than the occasional bad times when feet funk – or – the 3 times I’ve been slightly kicked in the back of the head on bathroom runs by this person.
Things escalated rather quickly. The Feet Woman was loud and unsympathetic to the desires of the lady sitting at my floor level. Some lady sitting on the row in front of me – and some other people behind me start to shout out, “LADY, PUT YOUR FEET DOWN” – This just incensed Foot Lady. And so she got a bit indignant in her refusals to cooperate. I think the word, “Damn” was what set the husband off, and he got up and one thing led to another – he pushed her feet, she slightly lightly kicked and he did attempt to slap her feet off the rail. That’s when Foot Lady’s man companion got up – and it felt like an actual fight was seconds before breaking out. Foot Lady was shouting about ASSAULT – threats of jail…. It was all that. The studio rep came over – and he asked that all 4 of them leave the theater – to deal with this outside. The ladies listened, the Foot Lady’s guy sat back down and wasn’t going to cooperate – the elder latino man was getting up another head of steam, so I decided to be the rational being to state, “Sir, the studio rep asked you to step outside with the ladies.” – To which he responded, “I don’t have to do a fucking thing” - SO I called the Rep over – and the two gentlemen left. The audience applauds.
At the DUNKIRK screening – there was a lady that went scream crazy – over something I wasn’t a witness to, but Ernie Cline and I were – freaking fascinated. But here – I was could’ve touched everyone involved in this scenario. It was a Hispanic couple and a White Couple. One side was being awfully indignant. And – here’s my thing. If you want to be a rude, crude and socially unacceptable person – unfortunately or fortunately – we have that right. What none of us have the right to do is strike the first blow – or even lay a finger on another human being. Once you do, you break a barrier you can’t take away. Once you touch that person, you can – and often will be punished for anything that happened after.
When Foot Lady came in to gather her stuff and was marching out of the theater, she left flipping off the entire audience. Now, I’ve never seen her companion before – but all of these people have and can be the sweetest people ever. They all have friends they come to screenings with – so I assume people like them… but for some reason, common decency was not the rule for the day.
I get it. The old couple wouldn’t move cuz the wife was having a very shaky leg kind of day. And I get foot lady has genuine leg pain that I’ve often heard her complain of. But folks – if your bare feet are by someone’s face in a movie theater – and they nicely say to move them – do it. This thing wound up with Police Officers – and I hope to the almighty that charges were not pressed – because that lady needed her husband to walk into the theater.
There was a uptight energy permeating the theater, so much – that some attendees that arrived after this – seeing whatever they saw in the lobby with Police Officers – they came in with questions. So ungodly awkward. Bizarre.
BUT NOTHING IN COMPARISON TO THE MOVIE THAT FOLLOWED.
Ok – so all that shit ended about 2 minutes before the movie started to play. When it started – wasn’t sure I was even watching DETROIT… The screen was filled with bright painted, slightly animated colors illustrating a bit of history about the migrant patterns of Black and White folks in this country – and how that gave rise to the civil unrest and Civil Rights movements of the late Sixties. I’d heard nothing of this – but I loved how off guard it took me. For one – it was beautiful and informative.
What to say about DETROIT?
This is the very best film I’ve seen this year, thus far. Kathryn Bigelow’s direction has never ever been better than it is here. Every single performance, camera angle, music choice – all were just perfect from start to finish.
you know – when a fight breaks about between people you actually know, and then the film actually takes that awkward “FUCK THIS” feeling and sends it to fucking Mars… well, DAMN! I recommend, no matter what color your skin is – you need to take your family to this movie and use it as an object lesson for how not to make situations fucking worse.
John Boyega is tremendous in this movie. He’s the level headed reasonable person that sees how everything is going down & is always working at all times to make the situation better. ALL WHILE DOING SOMETHING HIGHLY WRONG – from the stand point of… STAY SAFE. When he leaves his guard duty at the convenience story – my inner monologue was screaming NO! He’s not a police officer, not a National Guard Officer, he’s a weapons carrying security guard. BUT – he might’ve saved several people’s lives just by being there. THAT’s a key thing. At what point do you stop witnessing the tragedy of history and fucking take responsibility? His character is judging everyone on and off the screen and he’s great. When fates turn on him. FUCK man. Just FUCK.
Will Poulter. Ya know – when he debuted in Garth Jennings’ brilliant SON OF RAMBOW – I just loved him. But he was such a whiney bitch as Eustace in THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER – and that’s when I began thinking… Fuck Will Poulter. But his role in Bigelow’s DETROIT… He plays Krause, an officer we see shoot a man in the back for stealing what looks like two bags of groceries in the midst of a riot. That’s basically our introduction. Steal Groceries and DIE MUTHERFUCKER!!! He gets told he’ll be brought up on murder charges – then told to go back out on the street. WHAT. THE. FUCK. Yeah, RIOT. Still, WHAT. THE. FUCK. Poulter is not just a bad cop, not just pretty fucking racist… but he’s just bad at being a bad cop. He half asses his coverups. I mean, he leaves knives without wiping the knife down and placing it in his dead victim’s hands. So, the whole time I’m watching Cousin Eustace the Racist Detroit cop, I’m convinced – this fucking idiot is going to jail. Fuck him.
Police Officers. SERVE & PROTECT. Right up front, them’s the rules. I know cops. I’ve got cop friends, not just in Austin, but all over. All sorts of races. But my entire cop interaction in life have been situations where I was in a clear violation of the speed limit by around an extra 40 mph over … And in all situations I’ve talked my way out of a ticket, by being… essentially self-deprecating and entertaining. And yes, that’s what being white and looking absolutely pathetic and repentant in all ways – can do. That is not others’ experience. Shit – 2 days ago in Texas, a black kid got shook the fuck down for mowing his yard. Mowing, HIS yard. WTF. There are good officers in this film, but there’s also stressed out racist officers that needed vacation, dismissal and fucking prison. I’m sorry – but if you’re an officer and think of humans on the street as vermin. You need professional help. That person, doing whatever the fuck that person is doing… is who you’re supposed to PROTECT & SERVE. Even the bad guys. And yeah, that sucks. But it is the fucking job you signed up for. Even more so – the film shows the Thin Blue Line mentality of cops looking out for cops – even while others are doing the right thing. It’s just. It is a thing. Something that needs to be taken apart. Donald Trump firing 15,500 Transgendered Military personel isn’t going to help a damn thing. Firing 40,000 bad cops and bringing in 60,000 good ones, could save American lives. One of the key things this film underlines is… from 1967 to 2017… 50 fucking years, the same shit is happening, the same anger, the same mistrust, the same ol shit. It is sickening.
The inhabitants of the Algiers Motel. I know this is a true story – and that’s terrifying all on it’s own, but before we ever get to the scene of the incident in question, you see Detroit coming apart at the seams. The citizens of Detroit are pissed at the Police violence and respect for authority fucking blows. But you need to know, those in the Algiers Motel were there to avoid the unlawful insanity. They just wanted to party while Rome burned. And they weren’t really getting all that crazy. The nonsense with the Starter Pistol. Why noone volunteers that info will drive you crazy if you’re like me. But at the same, volunteering anything doesn’t seem very advantageous in their situation. In particular, I love Algee Smith’s Larry character, he has, seemingly, the most to live for, but everyone there deserved the right to live. The two white girls? One is Gilly from GAME OF THRONES – and I was all SAM wanting to protect her. The other, I didn’t really recognize, but both Kaitlyn Dever and Hannah Murray – were used as an excuse for the worst behavior from these officers. When Anthony Mackie is caught playing cards with them in his room – you can hear the shit explode in his body. This is 1967 – and there wasn’t a pretense of not being racist in this scenario. All characters in the Motel are fantastic.
You need to know – the film plays very very real. You will have a pretty hard hatred for Will Poulter’s KRAUSS. Anyone that would rather shoot than run, fuck right off. Especially when nobody is in danger. Shooting shouldn’t be a matter of fucking convenience. It should be about preserving life, not just making it easier. That lead in an officer’s gun was paid for by the people they see on the street. All of them. Each of us.
The film is tense as hell, I don’t want to go through the deaths, you should experience them as I did tonight. When they brutally hit you. This isn’t a happy story and I wouldn’t say the story ends when the credits roll.
Each of us. Citizen. Officer. Member of the Government. We are all connected by the Constitution. By the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. We are in the United States. Be the best of what that means, not the worst.
The period seems perfectly captured from the 43 Americans, 386 injured and 477 buildings damaged - though I’ve read numbers as high as 2000 buildings were affected in the Detroit Riots of 1967. We must remember these times, we must see the evil of those times – and fully acknowledge that Police must respect the laws and justice that they enforce. When a man in uniform is evil, you do not rally to that man’s support, you testify to the truth. Mindless support, be it of a leader or the people you serve alongside – should never be blind. Cops are not meant to serve and protect only their own, but all. DETROIT is a film you need to see, show your children and take all to see.
The movie ultimately plays like a Horror film. This is Bigelow’s very best film to date, though I’ll still watch NEAR DARK more.
Keep it cool,