Fences: Film Review


Writer:August Wilson, Director: Denzel Washington, Runtime: 2h19m Full Cast & Crew
“How come you ain’t ever like me?”. What a thing to ask your father, I said to myself. Later, I caught wind of James Earl Jones doing the same scene. As he was in the play version many years ago. Then another video appeared with Leading Male, Denzel Washington, doing his version of the same play. What made it more interesting, was the audience was laughing. I couldn’t help but feel extremely perplexed by how such a scene could come off as comedic. So, I went and what I got was a film so distant to any film I’ve seen like it. Through the guise of spectacular acting, this motion picture felt more like a play than 24 frames rushing past your eyes.

What good editors will tell you, and I’m even sure this a quote from the Godfather’s editor, a cut should feel like a person blinking, more so than a cut for cuts sake. (Post Edit, its from Walter Murch). This was achieved here. The dialogue is so quick and cohesive that you don’t get to notice when the edits actually happen. That’s beautiful work in my eyes.

Denzel, Davis and co. Give such outstanding performances Watching the leads had me in such awe. The first half of the film belongs to Denzel. While the second is a humble share, if not impeccably dominated, by Viola. She steals scenes and she is the best in the business at doing so. I doubt she means to. But her hard work and talent that she’s has had over the years is simply being manifested into her performances. It’s hot actually.. My pick for best supporting actress at this year’s Oscars is without doubt,Stephen Henderson! (Jim Bono Character) He didn’t miss a beat and he had all the right emotion to match with the provided story. His first few scenes with Denzel, made Denzel better by providing someone grounded yet as crazy as Denzel’s character is.

The title is meant as an allegory that both works and doesn’t. Less the latter than the former. There’s so much happening with the people in the story, that the fence is benign. His Wife asks him to build it, however, it’s occurs so quickly, I nearly missed it. Each time it’s mentioned later, I barely cared as there was so much more going on(namely with his brother which had some of Denzel’s best acting for me, it added nothing to the story since there’s so much more happening that he can’t even build the fence. The fence is the least interesting part of the story.  Then you get to The confession and Viola Davis’ third, well-written act & tremendous performance. By that part, you have lost all interest in the fence. Maybe in the play it holds more of a meaningful presence. It then can be argued the cinematography or rather, the medium as a whole caused the fence to fall so far into the background. But that’s neither here nor there. Needless to say, the story being central to the fence is very misleading (even if it is apparent). Allegories shouldn’t be verbal in cinema, they should either be purely visible (through set pieces to cinematography) or simply acted out in body language/ actual deeds. Denzel and co dropped the ball on that in my eyes.

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Denzel deserves a nod for direction I feel as well. His choices with bringing the production to life were spectacular.

Bottomline: If you want to see a film that has tremendous acting and editing, see this one. It deserves all the nominations for those sort of categories. But it certainly doesn’t deserve a win for best picture(the nomination is fair). It should be nominated for set design or production coordination editing and of course any and all for acting.

 

  • Overall rating of the movie: 7 out of 10,
  • Cinematography: 8 out of 10,
  • Editing: 8.7 out of 10,
  • Audio: 7 out of 10,
  • Acting: 10 out of 10,

Theatres or wait for the blu-ray? Not a bad pick up if you wish to buy it, but this is more a Netflix stream than anything.

Hidden Figures: Film Review

So for the viewers at home and the millions around the world, who don’t know me…. yet! One of the most special  things I.., we have is, space. It’s kinda like a giant Unifier. For what surrounds all of us.. is space. After creating the “greatest” weapon at the time, in the Atom Bomb, we sent a man to reach the star spectacled, black ocean. We flew a mortal to the heavens and then in to the beyond we had so little information about. I’m sorry, but as far as true heroes and the concept of human achievement/advancement, that is the chief of all time achievement.
This film is about the people who had a big hand in making it all happen. As a proud black man, I can say that thanks to black minds, the greatest human achievement happened.


Writers:Allison SchroederTheodore Melfi, Director: Theodore Melfi, Full cast and crew Runtime: 2h7m

I’m calling this the movie of the year whether they win or not.
The entire cast was immeasurably believable in each of their roles. For me however, I felt the best talents were Tarjai p, Octavia Spencer, Dunst and Costner. Not to single out anyone as being bad. Just these roles resonated.  P. Henson has been hard at work with her roles. Her stand out moment has to be when she has to use the restroom and she gets called out for “taking longer breaks”. The promotion she gets should, one would think, lead her above the hate that was so prevalent in that era of time. It didn’t. The hate took a toll on her and she snapped. And it was amazing to watch. People were so attached to their hate that in so many ways they were jeopardizing their goal, Their jobs, and what would be their future and our present. But thankfully Harrison(Costner) saw that to be as stupid as it is now, then.

“HERE AT NASA WE ALL PEE THE SAME COLOUR”

Few play that old southern American better than Costner. He has a way of bringing something rich and new to the role, even if he is typed casted for it. I liked that he came off as a man of ambition. He wasn’t going to let his or anyone else’s discomfort for something different or anyone’s ego prevent him from reaching his goal. Costner is still a strong performer. be it in leading roles or supporting.
Outside of playing Mary Jane in Spider-man, and even then, I’ve never been a fan of Ms. Dunst. But in this role. I didn’t see Dunst. I saw her as the embodiment of white privilege. She was either directed well or did the right prep as an actor (perhaps both) and it’s hard to ignore how well she performed on screen. Her best scenes come from the denials of the supervisor position to Dorothy Vaughan. Vaughan felt like the mom of the group. When you have kids, you do everything you can to succeed in part for yourself, but more importantly for your children. And in this film she did that. She ensured the advancement of her “babies” by a adapting to the changes that could have very well been the end to her tenure at NASA. I was rather intrigued by her character right from the jump. She looked like she had no business being under that car hood, but there she was. Controlling her on “fate”. To me, outside of P. Henson, she was the strongest female in the film. It’s no wonder that both my favourite scenes come when she explains to her kids the library book; and how she led the group of girls to higher ground.

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That scene, was by far the strongest. It’s brief, if you blink you’ll miss it. It did so much for so little. Women of colour were advancing they were climbing their way out of the basement, and into a position of being seen. In a position of being needed. How they built up that scene from the start was great. Vaughan looked out for herself and her cubs at the same time.

 

I haven’t seen such a well acted cast like this in some time. From the opening moments, to last words in the credits, It was, in all aspects, an immaculate production. They brought to life that feeling of having to do the most just to have a chance that many people of colour.  All while showing how that to reach new heights, the height of space. They would have to unite themselves to a goal and put their differences aside.

A film about black women who are smart, beautiful (even while being dressed from head to toe), motherly, funny and ambitious. I can’t name many films like this one made recently. There wasn’t a set of man drama, there wasn’t a set of slackness and bacchanal. Even when they introduce the male love interest, they didn’t over saturate his role in their lives. The focus of the film is the women. It makes the film stronger because of it. I did feel like Janelle’s Mary Johnson was swept over some. Be it for time or just tell story trying to be told. Her story, and in no way is this meant as an insult, felt more “What you see, is what you get” as opposed to the other two women’s story. Which could be arguably called an allegory for so many things, chief among them, unity.

This film deserves all the praise it can possibly get. It’s inspiring for men, women and children alike. It is power, sexy, and endearing. I haven’t left a movie theatre with such hope for the future, pride in self (racially), admiration for the past, and sense of wanting to cry. Ever!

Movie of the year. Easily. If ever there’s another pro women/Black Women film.. this should be the precedent to compare from(Genre specific).

hf-gallery-02-gallery-imageBottom line: To the entire cast and crew, this film is superb.

 

  • Overall rating of the movie: 10 out of 10,
  • Cinematography: 9.9 out of 10,
  • Editing: 9 out of 10,
  • Audio: 10 out of 10,
  • Acting: 10 out of 10,

Theatres or wait for the blu-ray? Bluray, Totally worthy of whatever it will cost when released.

Moonlight review 

Writer: Barry Jenkins (screenplay), Tarell Alvin McCraney (story), DirectorBarry Jenkins Run Time: 1h 51min, Full cast and crew.
Oscar contenders aren’t usually my thing. But I’m doing different things this year.

moonlight-poster-1Moonlight is an interesting story as it’s about *spoiler* a black man coming to terms with being a homosexual black male, all while juggling the hardships that come from that and the hood around him..  What got me interested in the film was the level of talent brought on to tell this tale, and of course how it was told.

The first act is Chiron as a child. Early on one can tell that there was a lot of thought process in the early workings of the picture. That opening shot was masterfully done. I’m a sucker for continuous shots. Those are the best way to see every department, every aspect, of what makes any film, a work of art in my opinion. God bless whoever made the steadicam. One of the cool things about this film is how well the colour helps aid the story. As a child the world is very colorful. The acting in the first act is captivating. As “Little” (Chiron)doesn’t talk. You really have to watch how he moves and his facial expressions react to the world around him. The Young actor’s performance is very loud. One just has to be willing to see. That doesn’t mean he’s not aided in his performance by his Co-stars. This act, more than any I wish had gone on a bit longer to to give me a bit more exposition to what follows.

The second act is the most desaturated of all the acts.. rightfully. It has the feeling of being lost, emotionally, for the Chiron. He’s constantly facing the question “What kind of man does he want to be?” Which hits all men if not everyone (change man to human) at some point. And that question isn’t to be taken lightly. As the kids are older so is the tone. I do wish he had more of a guide but, in the same breath, it strengthens “Little” as an independent person to make the choices “uninfluenced”.  The best scene in terms of love on screen, comes from Chiron & Kevin on that beach. Artistically, it’s one of the most powerful scenes I’ve seen in recent memory. The manner in which they captured that feeling of being high on some Mary J, and being with that person who loves to look out for you, that complete innocence of losing your virginity to someone you both truly love and admire, was outstanding. Again a tremendous team effort by the production team. That scene alone felt like how a good poem makes you feel. There was so much good about that scene. The act closes with both heart break and awe as you see how he decided to be the man he wanted to be. Never fear standing up for yourself (and your loved ones). That one action could mean the world for someone. I cheered a little.

The third act is adulthood and our Little Chiron isn’t so little now. I almost didn’t know who he was at first. Which was interesting. He took a pain, harboured it, and became a an alter ego all to bury it said pain. He didn’t just become big and tough, he was big and tough. He mimics the only male who has seemingly raised him. But everyone has a weak spot. His was Kevin. It’s been some time since high school and he instantly drops his big bad persona and reverts back to being Little. As the scene continues, the technique he uses to sheds his figurative armour is outstanding. When he confesses to only being with Kevin, the delivery of it hit me. Not in some kind of profound, inspired way. Rather the innocence of it. He easily could have been out there. His character was in the right place to do some more experimenting but he only had love for one person. In this day and age that loyalty is harder to get from romantic lovers. Muchless friends of even 3 years.

If you didn’t know the synopsis going in, you definitely get it after the two boys have their little wrestling match in act 1. It’s beautifully designed but it certainly makes one feel uneasy.. well me. But it reaffirms the point of the story as it’s loosely implied at this point. I can only imagine it did a great job in capturing what I’m sure many in the LGBTQ community go through early on, in their coming out stage. The scene out of context, comes off as two kids horsing around. If you look closely, you can tell the kids are just enjoying being  goofy in front of a camera and are genuinely happy kids. So it’s shot in a smart way to hide that. But immediately after the fight. The look on Little‘s face is in the blissful climax feeling that I’m sure many know exactly what I mean. It made me feel uncomfortable. Was that by design? I have no idea. But I do think it was very effective visual storytelling. This is after all, an art medium.

The lack of Janelle Monae bothered me. She has a such a means of drawing attention toward herself on screen. Her character design was just grand. I really wanted to see more of her. the Story is better for the lack, but I wish she did more for Little &/or Chiron (act one or 2). I can admit to not knowing her music or really who she was prior. But I can confirm she’s well on my radar now. I really feel she’s a great actress and hope to see more of her. Aside from that, I feel act one’s cinematography was very spotty. A lot more shots felt out of focus unnecessarily. I’d be surprised if that was intended. Lastly the end shot… I wasn’t a fan. Maybe the reasoning flew over my head, but I didn’t like it.

Due to the nature of the script, it’s hard to select one key talent but the opening shot’s sequence deserve to be recognised for the every growing talent that is Mahershala Ali. He’s come a long way and I feel this was the film to put in in the public eye like never before.

Bottom line: It’s a great film. Tremendous art film, and deserve it’s praise.

  • Overall rating of the movie: 8.9 out of 10,
  • Cinematography: 7 out of 10,
  • Editing: 9 out of 10,
  • Audio: 9 out of 10,
  • Acting: 10 out of 10,

Theatres or wait for the blu-ray? Bluray: it’s a cool film to talk about and to show friends. I’m mixed between it’s worth owning or to stream it if available, when available.