Tag Archives: Movie comment

FENCES: MOVIE COMMENT

Fences
Director: Denzel Washington
Writer: August Wilson from his play
Cast: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson
Awards: Golden Globe winner best performance by a supporting actress, nominee for best performance by an actor, numerous nominations including BAFTA, Art Director’s Guild, AAFCA, Critics Choice , Screenactors Guild and many others. Just in: Oscar nominations for best picture, best actor and best supporting actress, best adapted screenplay.

During the early scenes of the film, this viewer was blown away by the writing. Such dense sentences, so many words! Denzel Washington delivered these words rapidly and clearly. His character, Troy Maxson, is a talker. He talks and talks. Washington became this man. I can’t think of any performance by an actor ever that compares to Washington’s portrayal of Troy Maxson in 1950’s Pittsburgh. He’s a big character and Washington fills himself up with the character to overflowing. He evokes strong feelings in every scene. I want to liken this film to a piece of cloth, tightly woven, all parts forming a whole. The film leaves the viewer nearly speechless, filled with emotions, unable to take one’s eyes from the screen for a second.

The film/story rests on an examination of family in a particular time and place. All of the roles are finely written and acted with the highest degree of skill. This is a tribute, not only to the actors (Viola Davis as Troy’s wife has received well deserved recognition.), but also to Denzel Washington as the director.

Praise is deserved for several of the films I’ve seen in recent weeks, this season’s Oscar contenders. But this is Washington’s finest hour as actor and director. He, the movie and the writing are at the top of this year’s mountain, by my reckoning. Together these actors, writers, film-makers of all kinds have created a marvelous viewing experience. Do not miss it. A Tony award winning play, a great director, and the finest performances by Washington and Davis of their careers. I deeply hope Oscar rewards them accordingly.

But whether or not that happens, I award the movie Fences, Washington, Wilson and Davis my personal awards for best of the year. It’s not all that easy to do. After all, I’m a huge fan of Jeff Bridges and his sheriff in Hell or High Water, to name another performance I found enchanting this year.

On my list, nothing this year or any other year tops Denzel Washington as Troy Maxson, and that includes Casey Afflect in Manchester By The Sea. Tom Hanks, Leonardo Dicaprio, Bradley Cooper, Bruce Dern, Daniel Day Lewis, to name some well-known fine actors, are clearly also-rans in this race for best. Stories are different, acting ensembles hold a range of supports and requirements, films are cooperative efforts that make for uncertainty of outcome. Given all that, this movie fan is unable to be restrained in any way about what Denzel Washington has accomplished with this movie. He is simply amazing.

I hope you see it!

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA – MOVIE COMMENT

Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Writer: Kenneth Lonergan
Cast: Casey Afflect, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges
Running Time: 2 hrs, 17 minutes
Awards: Golden Globe winner for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, Golden Globe nominee for Best Picture, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Director and Best Screenplay, numerous BAFTA nominations and many other awards.

And the Oscar for best picture goes to…….

This is a great movie. Its creator, Kenneth Lonergan has given us a film in which the whole is even greater than the sum of the parts, or however that saying goes.

It is sad, yes. But there is humor, there is inspiration, there is hope. What more can we expect from some of the worst pain life can conjure.

After the sudden death of his brother, Lee Chandler is made legal guardian of his nephew. Lee is an isolated and lonely man. As the movie progresses, between scenes in the present and flashbacks, we learn, at least in part, why this is the case. The story deals with love, forgiveness and responsibility. It is skillfully told.

Acting, pacing of the scenes, photography, story, writing are excellent. I now totally understand why the teen actor, Lucas Hedges, has received such praise even along the giant acting skills of Michelle Williams and Casey Afflect. I urge you to experience this film in all its thoughtfulness.

If like this viewer, you wonder about other Lonergan films, you may remember Count On Me with Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo, and a lesser-known more recent film, Margaret, starring Anna Paquin, Matt Damon and Mark Ruffalo. I’ll be checking Netflix for that one.

Having seen this film only a few days ago, at this time I believe it should win every award possible. It’s hard to compare films, they present so differently. But good drama has a depth other genres can seldom match. This is a thoughtful and caring film amidst terrible hurt and tragedy. Watch carefully and you will see the humor, an important and helpful coping mechanism for character and viewer.