Wednesday, August 9, 2017


Last night I went to see Detroit, one of the most powerful films about brutality and injustice that I have ever seen.  It is set against the backdrop of the riots that happened in Detroit in 1967.  As the city burns out of control the local police, along with the state police and National Guard, are asked to do the impossible and keep the peace.  We meet a trigger-happy young white officer named Philip Krauss (Will Poulter) who has been reprimanded for shooting a looter in the back, an aspiring black singer named Larry Reed (Algee Smith), and a black security guard named Melvin Dismukes (John Boyega).  They all converge at the Algiers Motel, where Reed has taken refuge for the night when he can't get home, after a resident foolishly fires a starter pistol at the National Guard who mistake it for a sniper attack and fire back.  What follows is a long and protracted sequence where Krauss and two other white officers brutalize Reed and the other black residents in order to get them to confess, ultimately killing three of the young men, despite Dismukes' attempts to intervene.  These scenes affected me on a visceral level but I was even more upset when the young men seek justice.  In my opinion, they faced more discrimination in the courtroom than they did while being beaten in the motel.  I was very moved by Boyega's performance, especially in the scenes where he is interrogated unjustly as a suspect just because of his race.  Poulter also gives an incredible performance because I hated him and, frankly, I am going to have a hard time watching him in any other movie from now on because he is so menacing in this role.  This film was incredibly difficult for me to watch because in my mind I pictured my nephew in that motel and I cried through most of it (and for hours after it was over).  However, this is a film that I think everyone should watch because, as much as we would like to think that we as a society have moved on from 1967, I don't think we have.

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