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Posts Tagged ‘Anthony Mackie’

Will Poulter, Anthony Mackie

“DETROIT”  My rating: B

125 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Kathryn Bigelow doesn’t pull many punches.

In the fact-based “Detroit,” the Oscar-winning filmmaker explores a deadly 50-year-old incident from America’s racial past, an incident so distressing that in comparison it makes her “Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty” seem like lighthearted matinee fodder.

That the film is powerful is beyond dispute. It’s so powerful, so excruciating that one must question whether audiences are willing to take it on.

Bigelow’s subject is the notorious Algiers Motel incident. In July 1967, during rioting (some have called it a rebellion) in Detroit’s black neighborhoods, three young men were killed — murdered by most accounts — when confronted by police at the aforesaid motel.

Employing a docudrama approach of the sort pioneered by Paul Greengrass (“Bloody Sunday,” “United 93”), “Detroit” tells its tale without much explanation. After an animated opening sequence exploring the sources of America’s racial crisis in the late 1960s, the film throws us into the action.

It begins when Detroit police raid an illegal after-hours club, and a crowd gathers. Bricks are thrown. Within hours a full-fledged uprising/riot is underway.

The screenplay by Mark Boal (“Zero Dark Thirty”) introduces a half dozen characters on both sides of the conflict.

When their performance at a big soul revue is canceled because of the rioting, Larry Reed (Algee Smith) and Fred Temple (Jacob Latimore), members of the singing group the Dramatics (the group eventually would be signed by Motown Records), attempt to get home. They decide to hole up where a score of others have taken shelter, in the Algiers’ annex, a once-impressive house now divided up into individual rental rooms.

On the other side of the equation is a white cop, Krauss (Will Poulter), who claims to understand the plight of the urban underclass but who is clearly trigger-happy, weary from days of dealing with arson and looting. Earlier that day he had shot and killed a fleeing looter.

An Algiers tenant (Jason Mitchell) taunts approaching police and National Guard troops by firing a harmless starter pistol, unleashing a series of horrific events. Detroit cops, state police officers and guardsmen storm into the house, rounding up the tenants. Employing psychological terror and beatings, Krauss and company demand to know the whereabouts of the “sniper.” (more…)

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Sandra Bullock and Joaquim Alameda

Sandra Bullock and Joaquim de Alameida

“OUR BRAND IS CRISIS”  My rating: C+ (Opens wide on Oct. 30)

107 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Truth is relative in politics,” observes campaign consultant “Calamity” Jane Bodine (Sandra Bullock) in the opening moments of “Our Brand Is Crisis.”

“I could convince myself of anything if the price is right.”

A catalog of the many dispiriting ways in which the electoral process has become an exercise in lying and slime-slinging, “Our Brand…” is grimly satiric and thoroughly depressing.

Dramatically it is undercooked, with outrage outscoring humanity.

The latest from chameleonic director David Gordon Green is a fictional remake of a decade-old documentary of the same name. That film followed a group of American campaign strategists — among them Clinton stalwart James Carville — working their black magic for candidates in a Bolivian presidential election.

The doc showed these Yankee fixers bringing their mercenary campaign marketing tactics to the developing world.

Gee, thanks, fellas.

Bullock’s Jane Bodine is a one-time terror of the campaign trail who, in the wake of a humiliating defeat, has spent the last six years in eccentric isolation in a Colorado cabin.

Now she’s offered a chance to get back into the game by working for a Bolivian presidential candidate. Jane is ready to reject the idea until she learns that her old nemesis Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton with Carville-esque chrome dome) is working for the competition. This will be her chance for revenge.

Jane and her team (Anthony Mackie, Ann Dowd, Scoot McNairy, Zoe Kazan) are working for Pedro Gallo (Joaquim de Almeida), a surly plutocrat and past president whose first term was marked by the crony-pleasing sale of Bolivia’s national resources to multinational corporations.

Now the Americans must figure out how to propel this unsavory character to the top of a six-candidate race.  Their plan is to emphasize crises for which their man offers the best solutions. That these “crises” don’t actually exist is beside the point . They will strike fear in the hearts of Bolivia’s various economic and ethnic voting blocs. (more…)

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cap 3“CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER” My rating: C+ (Opening wide)

136 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

There are few moments early in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” that suggest what the film might have been.

Fans of the Marvel Universe will recall that at the end of 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger,” the Cap (Chris Evans) was thawed out after a half-century of suspended animation and was recruited by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and his super-secret spy organization S.H.I.E.L.D.

Put yourself in the Captain’s shoes. You grew up in the 1930s a 98-pound weakling. You were transformed into a muscled hunk of extraordinary power by some government-brewed elixir. You fought the Nazis in World War II.

And now you’re in 2014. Overnight you went from a world where “high tech” meant an AM radio to one of cell phones and the worldwide web. Of course, you must contend with more than just technical advancements. You’re bombarded by modern morals and sensibilities that run counter to your squeaky-clean upbringing.

When you were frozen the word “teenager” didn’t exist. Now you’re in a civilization that caters to teens as the most desirable demographic (this movie being Exhibit A).

Credit Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s screenplay for this much at least: It tries to say something about the dislocation that good-guy Cap – aka Steve Rogers – feels, to explore the angst of a man from a genteel past trapped in a crass present.

That’s a movie I would have enjoyed.

(more…)

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