Freeze Frame: “Detroit,” “Lady Macbeth”

One way or another, you will be disturbed by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s grim and troubling historical drama, “Detroit.” Either the police brutality and racism will rattle you or the movie’s sadistically violent depiction of it will do the trick. During the summer of ’67, civil unrest gripped much of Motor City. An incident at the Algiers Motel left three black men dead and three white police officers accused of homicide.


Bigelow places the audience in the midst of the mayhem, forcing us to be witnesses and providing no relief. Some viewers may resent the relentlessly brutal, sledgehammer approach to the material, but there is no denying its effectiveness. “Detroit” takes an unblinking look at a very dark incident in our history, one that, sadly, still resonates today.


The drama, “Lady Macbeth” isn’t about Shakespeare’s villainous Scottish queen, but was inspired by her ruthlessness. Although based on a Russian novel, the action of “Lady Macbeth” has been shifted rural Victorian England in 1865. Newcomer Florence Pugh plays Katherine, a young woman stuck in a loveless marriage to a nasty landowner. Things get complicated when she has a torrid affair with a virile workman, played by Cosmo Jarvis. When Katherine’s loutish husband gets wise, Katherine gets homicidal.


Pugh gives a riveting performance, initially gaining our sympathy as a victim and then losing it as she transforms into a malicious manipulator. Pugh gives “Lady Macbeth” its nasty edge.


Also opening this week, Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey star in an adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower.” It was hidden from critics, always a bad sign. The same is true of the aptly titled thriller “Kidnap,” starring Halle Berry. “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” is the follow-up to Al Gore’s Oscar-winning environmental documentary. Michael Cera leads a diverse cast in a multi-plotted drama, “Person to Person.”