Tag Archives: Jason Mitchell

Detroit (Kathryn Bigelow, 2017)

With the same you-are-there handheld aesthetic that characterised her Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker, the opening of Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit – following a brief animated prologue that contextualises Motor City’s racial tensions – gives viewers a reconstruction of the event of overzealous police violence that kicked off days of rioting in the eponymous city in 1967. One of the most destructive civil disturbances of its kind in the history of the United States, it saw the Michigan Army National Guard being deployed and President Lyndon B Johnson sending in airborne infantry divisions.

Despite that opening, Detroit is not an exploration of the entire uprising; even the 143-minute runtime it has wouldn’t do that subject justice. Instead, Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal focus on one of the more disturbing events that took place among the chaos…

Full review for The Skinny

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Barry (Vikram Gandhi, 2016)

Vikram Gandhi’s Barry is 2016’s second biopic about the (at the time of writing) current American President, after the Barack-Michelle first-date movie Southside with You, and it is similarly concerned with honing in on a specific short period of Obama’s life, using it as a means of examining how this time informed a path the man would later take, rather than attempting to tell an entire life’s story. It’s a completely different approach to Oliver Stone’s W., which was another film about a US President to debut at the tail-end of their tenure in the White House. While that messy chronicle suggested a veteran filmmaker having lost his game just a tad, Barry, as Gandhi’s non-documentary feature debut, suggests a promising new voice in American cinema…

Full review for VODzilla.co

Straight Outta Compton (F. Gary Gray, 2015)

The problem with most biographical dramas, particularly those concerning musicians, is that they can often play like greatest hits samplers rather than a cohesive, insightful character study. Some of the best music biopics are those that take a formally interesting approach that feels akin to the spirit of the artist/s in question, rather than trying to box their persona into a rigid formula; Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There is one example, as is the recent Love & Mercy, which offers a dual performance to depict two decades in the life of subject Brian Wilson, but also sonically innovative soundscapes to convey the troubled genius’ artistic process.

This is not to say that the traditional music biopic formula is of inherently dubious quality. As with any genre, execution is key. Straight Outta Compton, a portrait of N.W.A (though mainly members Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E) from director F. Gary Gray, is one such example of the formula done very well. Or, at least, up to a point…

Full review for VODzilla.co