Monday, August 7, 2017

Film Review: Kathryn Bigelow's Social Plight of Civic Unrest - 50 Years Ago

The Psyche of the Collective Unconscious is Still Haunting America's Social Culture from Generations Past.

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I am still trying to identify if The New Yorker’s film critic Richard Brody had favor or dismissed distaste for Kathryn Bigelow’s latest project Detroit.  Just by TNY’s very title “The Immortal Artistry of Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Detroit’” it unknowingly (or knowingly) recognizes her as an in-charge artistic visionary of her work.  

Ms. Bigelow is consistent in her grit and is focused with her left hemispheric attack in her films.  This seemed to be validated in her Q & A (question and answer) segment last Saturday night August 5, 2017, at The Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study.  

If you like Ms. Bigelow’s previous cinematic offerings you will not be disappointed.  This film transitions historical documentary
into box office tension.  The education and historical enlightenment comes through her process; it is true storytelling.  This film works. Despite any mixed review suggestions, this artist is consistent in her gift of bringing the untalkable to the screen.  Perhaps if one learns of Ms. Bigelow’s life her grace into the cinematic realm is an extension of her visual craft.  As a psychologist I present her as a goldmine of rich processing through her secular experiences.  Her Self explored life makes for an aware of the intrapersonal that transcends into the interpersonal into the art of film so that we the audience have a gripping account of art in film. She brings the audience into a personal investigative visual.  Despite being in a crowded theatre you are the fly in that room.  Unbeknownst to the fly that you’ve become with intimate knowledge you suddenly become caught.  Bigelow is the spider slowly approaching, from behind.  So you forget the audience but you are not alone.  You will live the experience with a sense of a traumatically syndromed stressed that might be remnants of the real lived experience.  This cinematic gift I assert comes from Ms. Bigelow’s right hemispheric functionality, which has been nurtured and is dominant.   She sees her intuition and the nuance and visually brings out the images that few, or possible no other, directors can convey.  Even her choice in introduction of Jacob Lawrence’s art migration rebirthed the idea of artistry and meaning to culture and blending of mediums.  Visual art becomes cinema.  To keep in the discussion of mediums Detroit’s Soundtrack can not be excluded.   

I am still awed in Bigelow and her team’s ability to nuance the Motown Sound and its respect and relevance to Detroit.  The music is heard and respected as a backdrop of the riots without overshadowing the intent of the film.  Visual art becomes cinema with music gently woven into film.  

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If you allow for some forgiveness with authenticity you will sit through a gripping account of the mythological 60’s as the once titanic fifth largest American city of Detroit begins its  demise.  Detroit, Automobile Capital of America, Motortown, or Motown.  There is history some remembered and some forgotten.  Bigelow commands us to remember.  What we learn from this project is that a good director with sensitivity, mindfulness, and an aware will bring a film to life; life to remembrance to unease to discussion.  

The ongoing argument in Hollywood of whether White directors at the helm of ethnically diverse Black historical relevant film is destructive to black narratives is a justified debate.  However, Bigelow, based on this screening, and her comradery with the cast members (all cultural diverse in their narratives) at the Q & A after the August 5, 2017 screening proves that this White female director’s major focus is on art; and, not on producing revenue from a white audience that fits the studios demographics.

Lastly, perhaps the most powerful weapon of the film is the ensemble.  Many of the actors have had previous on air golden moments in other films.  Once engaged into this gritty period of non-Glamoured-Motown-Detroit-rioting you forget the actors’ individual strengths and connect with the sculptured art as a whole body of work.  

As a therapist in Los Angeles one of my most gratifying experiences is for clients to share their life stories. That is in many ways a gift.  History produces growth, knowledge and power.  The retelling of this Detroit story 50 years ago gives light into generational trauma that is carried into the African American Psyche and collective unconscious of the communities experiencing these traumas.   For each of these characters we must ask how these short lived moments in history affected their families, children, parents, work relationships, friendships, social engagements and their Selves.  For Melvin the Security Guard, the two White women, the Detroit Police officers, to the lead singer of the Dramatics, and all victims at the Alsier's Motel, they all kept their narratives and PTSD (before it was even widely understood) untold.  For the lead singer he recognized that his churchianity was his connection to healing.  I cannot help but wonder what form of healing these victims, and Detroit (and Ohio) residents at large, used to get through the day, week and life.  

Read more about Dr. Strayhorn's practice and philosophy...

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