Saturday, August 26, 2017

Wind River

Taylor Sheridan wrote the gristly screenplay for last year's Hell or High Water, an outstanding Texas cops and robbers flick that was terrifically scripted and scorchingly intense. He also wrote the equally masterful Sicario (2015). Sheridan wrote and directed the bitter but brilliant Wind River, a worrying mystery set in the snow of the eponymous Wyoming reservation. The reliable Jeremy Renner stars as a federal wildlife hunter who is recruited by a young and overwhelmed FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) to track down a suspect in the sexual assault of a young woman found dead in the snow. The wintry landscape is both beautiful and unforgiving, and the native people on the reservation are depicted as decimated in number and spirit. Wind River is an engrossing and troubling study of arrested lives and suspended hopes. Highly recommended.

Monday, August 7, 2017


Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit is an important film that dares you not to like it. Although I appreciate Bigelow's craftswomanship, the film plays with form more than her most celebrated works -- The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty -- and I found that disconcerting. The opening sequence that features artistic renderings of the Great Migration and the subsequent deterioration of Detroit sets a different tone from the newsreel excerpts that document the urban uprisings and the murky set piece that depicts the Detroit police in 1967 shutting down an unlicensed night spot and parading patrons out of the front door and into police vans in front of agitated bystanders. Each is individually interesting but together seem disjointed. These are followed by the shooting of an unarmed looter by the film's villain, the satanic Officer Krauss (a remarkable Will Poulter)and the fateful confrontation between Krauss and his murderous cohorts and the patrons of a downtown motel. Three young black men were killed during the encounter; two were shot in the back. The officers were tried but not convicted. To alleviate the pressure built up by lengthy passages of violence and chaos with musical scenes feels forced, uneven and distracting and detracts from the power of a fairly uncompromising film. Bigelow pulls fine performances from the young actors John Boyega, Algee Smith and Jacob Latimore and veteran Anthony Mackie. Recommended but unspeakably grim.


  Director Danny Boyle's hummably insightful morality tale, Yesterday, is a sure starmaker for amiable Hamish Patel, who plays ...