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.

Safe House Review

WELCOME ONE AND ALL TO THE LAND OF XAVIERS MOVIE REVIEWS *David Rudder voice*. (Lol) I actually started this review fresh out the movie theater.

In this installment I bring you “Safe House” starring Denzel Washington & Ryan Reynolds.Denzel has been m.i.a. from movies, I believe, since the movie Unstoppable. In this movie, he gives us one of his best performances since maybe “Training Day.” Denzel really got into the character, “Tobin Frost”. Denzel didn’t have many lines, but.. HE DIDN’T NEED THEM. He ended up using his face for majority of the film & I’m glad he did as it lets the audience really grasp what his character is feeling, thinking and making him appear to be a bit of an asshole. I, personally don’t know much about Mr. Reynolds but his portrayal of the character, Matthew Weston was a lot better than what he gave us in Green Lantern. (Which, again, I believe is his last known movie). He had a set of dialogue & delivered 90% of it very well. I believe he tried to out do himself more due to the presence of Mr. Washington.

*POSSIBLE SPOILER WARNING* The title “Safe House” is used as metaphor, and I argue, the driving force of the movie.

The movie plot summary is as follows: “Matt Weston has been frustrated by his inactive, backwater post in Cape Town, South Africa. A “housekeeper” who aspires to be a full-fledged agent and has been waiting for an opportunity to prove himself. When the first & only occupant he’s had in a year, proves to be the most dangerous man he’s ever met, Weston readies for duty. Tobin Frost has eluded capture for almost a decade. One of the best ops men that the CIA has known, the ex-intelligence officer has given up assets and sold military intel to anyone with cash. As soon as Frost is brought in for de briefing, attackers unknown to Weston, the CIA agents guarding Frost, and Frost himself, are sent to kill anyone in the way and retrieve Frost. Barely escaping, the two form an unlikely partnership & must discover who is attacking them & why.”

As I mentioned the title is not just the ACTUAL safe house he is in and has to guard (Reynolds), but his mind is a safe house, as is his home country. (America in the movie since he’s actually Canadian folks) What happens is Foster, broke down the walls Weston deemed safe, both mentally & physically. The entire movie is like a Padawan learning from his Jedi teacher. There are clues in the movie so subtle that play major factors in the film towards the end.

The plot seems to have been executed very well.. The editing now, along with the cinematography, is where any real complaint can be made. Shakey cam.. Is, yes, a skill, but so is normal camera work. This movie suffers from the camera work. For example, the main and first physical fight scene becomes a joke because of how it’s shot & edited. If you have motion sickness, you may want to skip this movie. The overall editing is good, but because of the shaking camera, it loses any kind of greatness it could have had. Though I must add at times I did not notice it, but when I did, it was very bothersome. There were not as many “Hidden messages in the shots” as I had hoped for, but that’s just a film student/lover critique.

Overall rating of the movie: 4 out of 5, cinematography: 2 out of 5, editing: 3 out of 5, Audio: 3.5 out of 5.

THATS IT! CHEERS “TO PEACE”, AND MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU!

– Xavier