Posts Tagged ‘Kathryn Bigelow’


Richard and CP24 anchor Nathan Downer have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “The Dark Tower,” the eco-documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” the latest Kathryn Bigelow film “Detroit” and the culinary road trip of “The Trip to Spain.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies including “The Dark Tower,” the eco-documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” and the latest Kathryn Bigelow film “Detroit.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

CTVNEWS.CA: “THE CROUSE REVIEW FOR ‘The dark Tower’ AND ‘Detroit’!”

A new feature from from! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “The Dark Tower,” the eco-documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” and the latest Kathryn Bigelow film “Detroit.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Richard sits in with CKTB morning show host Tim Denis to discuss the weekend’s flickers including “The Dark Tower,” the eco-documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” and the latest Kathryn Bigelow film “Detroit.”

Listen to the whole thing HERE!

Metro In Focus: Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit aims to get it right … more or less

By Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

Hollywood has a long tradition of bending history to suit their stories.

For instance the title of the historical disaster film Krakatoa: East of Java is a geographical head-scratcher. Krakatoa was actually west of Java. In 10,000 BC woolly mammoths are used as labour to build the pyramids in Egypt. That’s Hollywood history. Woolly mammoths weren’t desert creatures and the pyramids weren’t built until 2500 BC. Then there’s Mel Gibson’s wardrobe from the future in Braveheart. The movie is set in the late 13th century, but the kilts he wears didn’t come into existence until 300 years later.

The movie theatre is definitely not Mr. Parker’s history class.

Detroit, the new film from Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow, aims to bring historical accuracy back to the big screen. The movie focuses on the Algiers Motel Incident, the most infamous episode of the Detroit riots of the summer of 1967. The shocking story details how young African-American men and women sought the safety of the motel only to come under fire from police who handled them as revolutionaries. When it was done three young African-America men lay dead, shot, allegedly at close range. None of the officers charged with the Algiers murders were convicted.

“The Algiers Motel is a real American tragedy,” says Bigelow. “One of the most important aspects of preparing this movie was to spend time with the people who actually lived it.”

Filming this important slice of history brings with it the responsibility of getting it right. To that end Bigelow, screenwriter and former journalist Mark Boal and investigative reporter David Zeman, did considerable research. “My marching orders were to find as many of the principles as I could who could tell us something about their perspective on what happened,” said Zeman.

That may be so, but even the best-researched true-life drama brings with it a degree of artistic licence. Take for instance Bigelow’s last movie, Zero Dark Thirty. She called it a “reported film,” suggesting it existed somewhere in the murky middle between drama and documentary, yet it drew fire from critics (including the CIA) who felt it exaggerated the enhanced interrogation techniques allegedly used in the search for Bin Laden. So despite the opening credit claim that the movie was “Based on Firsthand Accounts of Actual Events” it may have fudged some facts.

So while there’s nothing in Detroit as egregious as Season of the Witch’s plague outbreak 76 years before the Black Death struck, it will not be a 100 per cent true and accurate representation of real life — it’s not possible. What it can do, however, is open a dialogue about the past, and in Detroit’s case, the present.

In a statement Charles Ferrell, the director of public programs of Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History said the film, “echoes the current proliferation of extra-judicial fatal shootings of African Americans by police who have been exonerated and highlights the major issue of criminal police violence and racial injustice that this nation must face and resolve through dialogue and corrective actions.”

Perhaps instead of looking at Detroit as a historical document it might be better used as a springboard for further study and conversation into the systemic racism that allowed the Algiers Motel Incident to happen and why so little has changed in the intervening years.

DETROIT: 4 STARS. “an uncomfortable, gruelling watch.”

There is a disclaimer at the end of “Detroit,” Kathryn Bigelow’s latest look back at our recent history. Before the final credits roll a title card reads something to the effect that the details of the bloody Algiers Motel Incident, the most infamous episode of the Detroit riots of the summer of 1967, were pieced together from available sources and eye witness accounts.

It reminds us that what we have just seen is an interpretation of history and not a strict, unequivocal statement of fact. The title card may be a reaction to the backlash that followed Bigelow last film “Zero Dark Thirty.” She called that film, a look at the decade long hunt for Osama bin Laden, a “reported film,” suggesting it existed somewhere in the murky middle between drama and documentary. Despite her claim the film drew fire from critics (including the CIA) who felt it exaggerated the enhanced interrogation techniques allegedly used in the search for Bin Laden.

Her new film is every bit as provocative but whereas “Zero Dark Thirty” felt of its time, “Detroit,” despite its 1967 setting, feels ripped from the headlines. It uses historical fact and dramatization as an urgent plea for further study and conversation into the systemic racism that enabled Detroit police to murder three young African American men and why so little has changed in the intervening years.

The film begins with a police raid of an unlicensed nightclub filled with African American men and women enjoying a drink, some music and each other’s company. Manhandling men and women alike the raid attracts the attention of the entire neighbourhood. As club goers are forced into paddy wagons for the crime of congregating and having a drink, cries of “You can’t do that,” erupt into rage and the frustrated shouts change to “Burn it down.” A riot breaks out leading to looting, curfews and mass arrests.

The story splinters to introduce Philip Krauss (Will Poulter), a racist trigger-happy Detroit cop who justifies gunning down a man who stole a bag of groceries because, “They’re destroying the city.”

Nearby are Larry Cleveland Reed (Algee Smith) and Fred Temple (Jacob Latimore), a wannabe Motown singer and his best friend respectively. When Larry’s big debut at the Fox Theatre is scuttled because of the riot outside the theatre’s doors he Fred head to the Algiers, a nearby hotel, “until all this slows down.”

The laid back vibe at the Algiers seems a million miles away from the violence on the street, which by this point has seen 3200 people arrested and blocks of Detroit burned to the ground. Larry and Fred meet some girls (Hannah Murray and Kaitlyn Dever), listen to John Coltrane and feel safe until another resident, Carl Cooper (Jason Mitchell), shoots a starter’s pistol out the window. “We should teach those pigs a lesson,” he says. The police below, including Krauss, think a sniper is shooting at them and invade the building, guns drawn. By the time their “investigation” is done three young African-America men lay dead, shot at close range.

The lone uniformed voice of reason comes from Melvin Dismukes (John Boyega), a security guard in a grocery store down the street from the Algiers who tries his best to prevent bloodshed.

“Detroit” is an uncomfortable, gruelling watch. The physical intimidation, racially based violence, murders utilized against Reed, Temple and others as they plead innocence, is sickening. “I will kill you one by one until I find out what’s happening here,” says Krauss. Using psychological games and hard-core interrogation tactics he (and a handful of others) terrorizes his suspects and it is gut wrenching. Bigelow has a historical POV setting up the story and in the subsequent court case but her handling of the interrogation sequences is pure psychological horror. Claustrophobic and violent, it is as compelling as it is abhorrent.

Bigelow uses archival footage and stills to set the stage but it is a combo of her kinetic, muscular filmmaking and strong performances that make an impression. Boyega channels a young Denzel Washington, radiating decency while Poulter is a snarling ogre who revels in the powerlessness and dehumanization of his victims. As a paratrooper recently returned from Vietnam Anthony Mackie is a stoic presence amid the chaos.

Best of the bunch is Algee Smith as the young singer whose dreams are crushed when the Fox Theatre is evacuated just before his debut. While the dirty cops assert that “one bad minute shouldn’t define their lives,” it is through Smith’s performance that the long term effects of the Algiers event are the most tangible. The repercussions of that vicious, lawless night echo throughout his psyche, changing him forever.

The story in “Detroit” is fifty years old but the names of Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Michael Brown Jr., Ezell Ford, Dante Parker or any number of others who have been killed at the hands of the police in recent times, echo throughout.


hurt_locker_poster_m_0In the last couple of years a number of movies about the Iraq War have come and gone, barely making an impact with audiences. Well intentioned, but earnest movies like Lions for Lambs, Redacted and In the Valley of Elah were box office poison to a public inundated by images of the war on television. That downward spiral may be stopped by a movie from action director Kathryn Bigelow, a character study placed against the backdrop of the Iraq War called The Hurt Locker.

Set in 2004 Baghdad, The Hurt Locker follows a series of missions with the Bravo Troop as they dismantle IEDs (improvised explosive devices) on the last 38 days of their rotation in Iraq.

What emerges is more a wartime character study than a war movie. There are shoot outs and terrifically tense moments, but the action is, by and large, low key and realistic. Bigelow stages effective action scenes but they don’t have the over-the-top bluster we’re used to in modern war movies, instead they rely on intensity and the shocking randomness of wartime violence to make them memorable.

At the center of the action is Staff Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner) an adrenaline addicted bomb diffuser who revels in risk taking. His team members, Sgt. J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Spc. Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty), still rocked by the sudden passing of their previous team leader, see James as a reckless troublemaker who may kill himself, or worse, get them killed. The tension in the film comes from their relationship with the showboating bomb expert as much as the battle scenes.

The film is episodic; not so much a story as it is a series of events, but as the clock ticks down toward the end of their stay in Iraq and the end of the movie it becomes clear that Bigelow is letting the pictures tell a bigger story. The relationship of the men is the main thrust but her use of “show me don’t tell me” shots of life in Iraq in the midst of the unrest tell us a broader tale. The wordless way life in the background plays out shows us the uneasy relationship between the soldiers and the locals. It’s subtle, evocative filmmaking that binds the whole thing together.

The Hurt Locker isn’t a typical Iraq War film and that’s probably a good thing. By focusing on the people fighting the war and the effect of soldiering Kathryn Bigelow has made the most effective and most harrowing movie about the consequences of the war since Coming Home.


1134604 - Zero Dark ThirtyAlfred Hitchcock famously described how to create tension in a movie. “There’s two people having breakfast and there’s a bomb under the table,” he said. “If it explodes, that’s a surprise. But if it doesn’t…” I’ll finish the sentence he so anticipatorily left undone: “…that’s suspense.”

“Zero Dark Thirty” (refers to the military time for thirty minutes after midnight) operates on this premise, creating suspense even though many of the bombs do go off and we know how the story ends. The whole movie is the bomb under the table, leading up to an explosive, although protracted, climax.

The film begins on 9/11 with audio of calls coming from the Twin Towers. Stage set, the movie leaps forward two years to the brutal waterboarding and torture of an Osama bin Laden relative by Dan (Jason Clarke) a CIA expert in extracting information. “In the end everybody breaks,” he tells his subject. “It’s biology.” Overseeing the waterboarding and humiliation techniques is Maya (Jessica Chastain), a newly recruited officer charged with helping to track down terrorist leader bin Laden and dismantle al-Qaeda.

This is Maya’s story. It’s a carefully plotted espionage tale that flows from the clues that lead to the death of bin Laden at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in May, 2011.

“Zero Dark Thirty” is not a who dunnit, or why dunnit, but a how dunnit.

It’s a detailed look at the step-by-step process that resulted in locating and exterminating bin Laden. The story begins before President Obama’s famous, “We don’t torture,” speech about regaining “America’s moral stature in the world,” so it presents the uncomfortable, controversial truth that pitiless persuasion like sleep deprivation, boxing and waterboarding—so simple, yet so brutally, terrifyingly effective—was used to gain information.

That queasy feeling from the film’s opening torture scene–that unethical techniques were used to gain information—evaporates during the daring Abbottabad raid sequence. While there’s a political discussion to be had regarding the ethics of waterboarding, that’s for another column. Dramatically it helps to provide a starting place for what is essentially a procedural.

Director Kathryn Bigelow and journalist-turned-screenwriter Mark Boal have focused on the details, shying away from delving into the personal lives of the characters.

Chastain’s Maya is a cipher, we know little about her except she was recruited out of school by the CIA and has spent a decade chasing one goal. Her selfless, obsessive dedication has perhaps cost some of her humanity, but Chastain manages to create an interesting character even when she has to mouth hyperbole about her noble quest. “A lot of my friends have died,” she says. “I believe I was spared so I could finish the job.” That’s a line straight out of any generic action movie.

But this isn’t a generic action movie. It’s a nuanced, suspenseful and terrifically exciting look at recent history.

Frequent overwriting—the inevitable “then I’m gonna kill bin Laden” moment and CIA honchos who say things like “Do your jobs and bring me people to kill,”—seems too easy for a movie this clever, but Bigelow’s virtuosic handling of the climatic raid scene overpowers the film’s weaker moments.

Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow hunting for another Oscar By Richard Crouse Metro Canada In Focus Wednesday January 9, 2013

zero-dark-thirty1Zero Dark Thirty is billed as “the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man.” It’s a carefully plotted espionage tale that flows from the clues that lead to the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in May, 2011 and it will very likely earn its director, Kathryn Bigelow, an Academy Award nomination.

It won’t be the first time the Academy has honored her. In fact she’s one for the record books. Her last film The Hurt Locker was a huge critical hit and made her the first woman to win best director awards from the Academy Awards, the Directors Guild of America, the BAFTAs and the Critics’ Choice Awards.

It was her first serious awards recognition, but it wasn’t her first film. At age 61 she is a veteran with nine features, hours of television and music videos for bands like New Order to her credit.

Critic Jon Popick called her first film, 1982’s The Loveless, “a slightly hallucinatory homage to The Wild Ones,” which means it’s a surreal outlaw biker film, one part tribute to the genre, two parts reinvention.

That movie set Willem Dafoe on his way to stardom, but it would take Bigelow five years to make another movie. Her next film, Near Dark, is another hybrid, a mix of vampire myths, westerns and biker movies the Washington Post called, “outrageous and poetic.”

Near Dark became a cult favorite, but it was her next three movies that set the template for her career. A trilogy of action films—Blue Steel, Point Break and Strange Days—saw her blend technical sophistication with themes that redefined the genre of the movies.

“It would be very difficult for me to just approach something that reinforced the status quo—although that might be the safest road to take,” she said. “When you have this great social tool, at the very least, take advantage of it as a means to communicate.”

Since then she has pushed boundaries in a variety of films from action, like the submarine thriller K-19: The Widowmaker to The Weight of Water’s multi-storyline plot.

Bigelow is frequently referred to as a woman who makes movies for men. She sees it differently. “It’s irrelevant who or what directed a movie,” she says, “the important thing is that you either respond to it or you don’t.”