Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark 30, The Hurt Locker) has carved a niche for herself in creating films that examine unpleasant points in American history. Frankly, she must be hard to hang out with, since she’d always be talking about killing Osama Bin Laden or race riots or something. I look forward to her future masterpieces which will no doubt examine such feel-bad moments in US history as the Dust Bowl, the Trail of Tears and the Stock Market Crash of 1929.
In Detroit, Bigelow turns her gaze to the 12th Street Riot in 1967. I think this movie’s strongest facet is that it evokes the absolute chaos of the moment. Molotov cocktails fly as looters destroy local shops and police bust out the billy clubs. It is in these riots we find 2 young men involved with a Motown group called the Dramatics searching for safety in the Algiers Motel. They find a variety of personalities in this motel who all have decided that a race riot is a good time to throw a party. Some racist police arrive and a series of disturbing events unfold.
Along with the movies The Butler, Selma and Hidden Figures, I put Detroit into my file of “movies where shitty racist white people do terrible things to people of color.” I think these movies document some important events and show a history that needs to be remembered—if only to remind us of the atrocities that can happen when people’s basic rights are violated. Is it bad that I don’t feel they make for a particularly fun night at the movies? Hopefully, these movies inspire people to get involved in politics and stand up for our rights.
Can I take the kids?: Rated R for lots of graphic, racially motivated violence and profanity.