Movie Reviews #49…

[Before reading this review, please read my “Monday Words of Wisdom: Special Edition.” This movie takes on new meaning in the dark and somber aftermath of what happened in Charottesville.]

Detroit. Kathryn Bigelow, dir. I wasn’t enthusiastic about going to this movie. I’d seen Zero Dark Thirty; Bigelow’s emphasis in that movie changed the story too much. And, when the director becomes the story, I feel the movie already has one strike against it.

Another reason for my lack of enthusiasm is that Zero Dark Thirty was one-sided. While I’m 100% against terrorism, I recognize that many Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, bin Laden’s homeland, magnify the universal and historical gap between the poor and rich elites, whether these be initiated by old colonial powers or current despotic and medieval regimes and theocracies.

A third reason finds its basis in this question: can a white person in this country ever manage to communicate the story about the sixties unrest occurring in America’ large cities from Boston to LA? As a white author, I don’t think I could do it, although I’m not a fan of the anti-cultural appropriation crowd. I haven’t experienced racial discrimination en carne propia (a Spanish expression from another minority currently under attack that means “in my own flesh”). I could analyze this history like a doctor analyzes her or his patient, but this analysis would probably fail because I didn’t experience the pain.

Ms. Bigelow manages to portray the pain. Some viewers might think the white cops, the villains, are given too much screen time. I think this is positive—the director doesn’t try to hide the bigotry and hatred of their racism—but the focus is more on the personal stories of black frustration in the inner city, and it’s powerful history and a warning for our present.

Of course, Ms. Bigelow also directed The Hurt Locker. You take some facts and fill in the parts you don’t know, and you have a film inspired by true events. Add some good acting and get a good director, shake and do not stir, and you just might have an Academy Award winning film. Detroit is high on my list for the latter.

Unfortunately the movie is depressing. First, the cops got away with murder. Second, and more importantly, the racial tensions, hate, and bigotry exhibited in the film still continue. Dr. King’s dream of a colorblind society with equal opportunity for all still doesn’t exist in America. Instead of preparing people for the new jobs of the 21st century, we leave them living desperate lives or put them in jail. Desperate people do desperate things, and the people creating the desperation are to blame.

The movie is also intense. The Detroit cops portrayed here could be the stereotypes for police brutality. Most cops aren’t like this, but enough are to make your stomach churn. The state police, supposedly a notch up in moral fiber, walk away, saying they don’t want to get involved in a civil rights case. OK, that’s depressing too.

We have seen all too often that problems occur when the police force doesn’t reflect the diversity of the city it serves. That was Detroit’s problem. It’s still a problem today in many municipalities, although it has some partial solutions. And the white judge and all-white jury might be different today and punish those white Detroit cops responsible for the murders and beatings depicted in the film. Or not.

The movie is of immense value, though, because it makes us think about what happened and still is happening in America. We have to work to change that. So, don’t bury your head in the sand. Go see this movie and be moved. I was. We need more like it.


The Midas Bomb (Second Edition). With a plot motivated by signs of the impending financial collapse of 2007-2008, Ponzi schemes, and international terrorism, this first novel in the “Detectives Chen and Castilblanco Series” is as current today as it was back then. The story connects an unscrupulous hedge fund CEO with two Manhattan murders and terrorist attacks. The two detectives team up for the first time. Connecting the two murders uncovers the larger conspiracy. Available in ebook format from Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo, and Smashwords (and its lending affiliates) as well as in paper format from Amazon, this novel starts off the series with a bang. Good summer reading!

In libris libertas! 

Comments are closed.