Monsters and Men, the new movie from writer/director Reinaldo Marcus Green, uses a police shooting of an unarmed black man as its inciting incident. That event has a ripple effect through the lives of multiple people and families, but the focus is on three individuals in particular.
Manny (Anthony Ramos), who just wants to provide a good life for his family and who filmed the shooting; Dennis (John David Washington), a police officer who’s seen the footage and is disturbed by the department’s silence around it; and Zyrick (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), a young and promising athlete who has to weigh his future as a baseball player against his desire to be active in his community.
There’s not a whole lot to the first poster, which just shows Manny and Dennis staring each other down through the one-way glass of a police interrogation room. Aside from the title there isn’t even any copy or text on the poster. What that image shows, though, is the dynamic that will fuel the story of law enforcement and its sometimes adversarial relationship with those they’re meant to protect.
The theatrical poster offers a bit more, showing the main characters arranged above and around a background image of protesters assembled and marching. There’s not much more explained outside of the tagline, “One moment can change everything.”
The trailer lays out for us the basic premise of the story, that an unarmed civilian has been shot by a police officer, seemingly with little or no provocation. From there on out we see how the three main characters and those around them respond to the incident and how they all have to make decisions that are in the interests of themselves, their communities and more.
That looks pretty powerful and impressive. It’s very much the kind of conversation-starter that should be happening today and it pairs nicely with the similarly-themed Blindspotting as well as the recent Pass Over. The cast looks excellent and, most importantly, it doesn’t seem to be overly-exploitive, just raw and unfiltered.
Online and Social
The usual array of standard material is found on NEON’s official website for the movie, including the trailer, a story synopsis and prompts to buy tickets, either individually or in groups. As with other releases from the studio there’s also a nice section of “Social Assets” where you can download images and videos suitable to share online. Links to the official Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages can be found in the upper right corner of the site.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
There’s a very good 30-second spot that can be viewed on the official website that narrows the focus of the story a bit to not overwhelm the tight running time. Green also shared images of outdoor ads around New York City the studio placed that used the key art.
Media and Publicity
The movie was one of those most frequently cited by critics as one they were anxious to see at the Sundance Film Festival. A clip was released by the filmmakers around that time to capitalize on that buzz and the film was soon acquired by NEON. The movie was announced as one of those screening on opening night of the Toronto International Film Festival.
Just days before release news broke that beleaguered movie ticket service and nascent film distributor MoviePass had taken a stake in release and distribution.
Washington did a little bit of publicity and press, including an appearance on “The Tonight Show,” and participation in live Q&As, but he was coming off the press tour for BlacKkKlansman, so Green handled a lot of the duties in this department. That resulted in interviews like this and other appearances
With a handful of similarly-themed films coming out this year, Monsters and Men risks getting lost in the end-of-year shuffle. I realize that statement is telling in and of itself since there are probably like 15 movies around the ennui of middle-aged white guys that came out this year while this is one of just three or four stories about the injustice faced by black communities.
That being said, the movie looks just as powerful as the others that have come out already or are still on the horizon and it’s necessary to tell more of these stories so they become just as common to make sure the issues raised aren’t washed away. Hopefully the campaign reaches enough people to help make that happen.
PICKING UP THE SPARE
Director Reinaldo Marcus Green has further thoughts on how the story forced him – and hopefully the audience – to genuinely consider the point of view of police officers involved in incidents like those the movie depicts.