Racist police in Detroit, Al Gore undeterred in his Inconvenient Sequel and Coogan and Brydon on the road again
Film Noir, the summer treat is on full at the Cinematheque now after last night’s opening. Three undisputed classics are on three times over the weekend: Double Indemnity, The Maltese Falcon and The Glass Key and for more about the series that runs until Aug. 24 visit the website http://www.thecinematheque.ca/
While you’re there notice an innovation this year: two science fiction films with film noir touches. Once is the original and great Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Also notice there are triple bills at a special price Sat, Sun and Mon and on Aug 19.
Meanwhile a lot of good new films have arrived:
Detroit: 4 stars
An Inconvenient Sequel: 3 ½
The Trip to Spain: 3 ½
Brigsby Bear: 3
Moka: 3 ½
Risk: 2 ½
The Dark Tower: 2 ½
DETROIT: If you’ve got the stomach for it, this piece of agit-prop will let you feel the depths of police brutality and racism. It’ll feel absolutely real because of its documentary look and the fact that it all happened. It was 50 years ago but the images are no different from Ferguson and Baltimore and the other racial incidents we’ve seen in the news on TV. Kathryn Bigelow brings out the same visceral feel and anger in her direction of the material written by Mark Boal. She previously collaborated with him on two Oscar winners: The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. This one is harder to take because it’s closer to home, extremely intense and unrelentingly anti-police.
Detroit erupted in five days of rioting in July 1967 when the police were heavy-handed in shutting down an after-hours drinking club. The film shows exactly how things got out of hand, Molotov cocktails were thrown and looting started. Then it focuses down on one place, the Algiers Motel where a violent young cop, played with a chill by Will Poulter, terrorized, intimidated, insulted and racially abused a group of black guys and two white girls. He thought a sniper had fired a shot from there and was intent on finding the gun. Before he and two other cops were through, three black men were dead and nine other people were beaten and tortured. National guardsmen had refused to intercede and a black security guard (John Boyega) couldn’t manage to speak up. It’s the most notorious incident in the riots but should it represent the whole story? The film is electric in what it does show but too narrow-minded in what it’s saying about it. (5th Avenue, Scotiabank and suburban theatres) 4 out of 5
AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL : The original 10 years ago won an Academy Award. The follow-up can’t be as effective, on the issue of novelty alone. Once again Al Gore has numbers, facts and charts to throw at you about climate change. Like this: in all human history of which we have records, 14 of the 15 hottest years on earth have been since 2001. Mull that over during this hot summer.
Actually, this film is almost as imperative as the first. It’s packed with information and visuals to support it. Violent storms are increasing. Gore sees the effects of a typhoon in the Phillipines. His prediction in the first film that the World Trade Centre site could someday be flooded was violently attacked. It came true; he’s got film. Hurricane Sandy did it. He takes us to a Greenland Glacier for some dramatic views of water cascading down inside. And where does the melting water go? Check out the flooded streets of Miami.
And there’s a dramatic arc: the story builds to the Paris Climate conference where we feel the tension and see backroom dealing, a key bit of which Gore was involved in. He also runs into Justin Trudeau and offers him encouragement. I find his optimism extraordinary. Donald Trump hadn’t yet pulled out of the Paris accords but his anti-environmental bent was clear. Gore carries on anyway, training environmental activists for the future and highlighting the progress already happening. The remarkable rise of solar, for instance. The film is a fine, and absolutely necessary, update on the first. (5th Avenue, where you have to be at least 19 to get in) 3 ½ out of 5
THE TRIP TO SPAIN: Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are out again tasting the food. They’ve been to northern England and Italy and now in Spain we get more wry comments about local customs and, of course, a steady flow of their impressions. Michael Caine and Sean Connery are back but Mick Jagger is new. The boys get into an impression duel over him, especially over his hand gestures. They even have him do Shakespeare. As usual it’s all very funny. So is an extended dissertation by Roger Moore about the contributions made to Spain and the world by the Moors.
And picking up on an addition that started last film, their fictional personal lives are worked in. This time it’s Coogan’s. He’s waiting for word on a script he submitted in Hollywood and feels irritation every time he talks to a new agent now in charge of his account. At the same time he feels his advancing age and his distance from family. Nothing that can’t be solved by an Anthony Hopkins dissertation on Picasso (“he put the eye up here and the nose down there”) or a game show based on the Spanish Inquisition. Michael Winterbottom directs and makes it all feel easy and improvised. (5th Avenue) 3 ½ out of 5