Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Jason watches DETROPIA

So after THE AMERICAN SCREAM, I just sort of stuck around at the Roxie and caught this.

DETROPIA is a documentary collage/tone poem/love letter to Detroit. In 1930, Detroit was the fastest growing city in the world. Now it's one of the fastest declining, with massive unemployment, huge areas of unoccupied homes being demolished (at least demolition is a booming industry,) high crime, and a near constant state of crisis. But this film is no polemic on why or how it got that way, or on what to do about it.

Instead, through the eyes of committed citizens, it's a look at the vibrancy that still lives underneath the decay, and the hopes it still has. It's about the world-class opera (70% of the corporate funding is from the big 3 automakers.) It's about the owner of a blues lounge who has seen the good times and tough times of his business. It's about the video blogger keeping an eye (and her camera) on her city. It's about the local UAW president and his fights with management. It's about the difficult and unpopular decisions put before the mayor every day (I'm surprised they got as much access as they did to mayor Dave Bing.) And it's even about the return of young people to the downtown area, and about the pair of artists who chose to move there from Hawaii. It's even--in a very oddly offensive scene--about a pair of Swiss tourists who were tired of how new everything is where they're from and wanted to see some decay.

But if you're not from Detroit, and don't plan to ever visit, why should you really care? Well, first if you're a fan of good movies you should just watch it because it's a good movie. Second, it makes a compelling case for Detroit as a microcosm for all America. Perhaps Detroit historically has been affected harder by the direction of America (for better in the past, maybe for worse at times, and definitely for worse now) but what's happening in Detroit is happening for better or worse across America. So the fact that it ends on a hopeful note, with GM posting profits and bringing some jobs back to Detroit, is maybe a good sign for America. Or maybe it's a sign that the rest of America has to go through some Detroit-sized pain before it can really recover.

Also, go Tigers! One win away from knocking off the Yankees and going to the World Series! Woo hoo! (that wasn't in the movie, that's just real life right now.)

Running Time: 90 minutes
My Total Minutes: 300,619
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