Tag Archives: Denzel Washington

Fences

Movie:  Fences

Rating:  5 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:    It is 1955, and in Pittsburgh Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) is doing his best to make a life for himself and his family.  But it ain’t easy for a black man to get ahead in that time and place.  Troy might have been one of the best baseball players ever, but was past his prime when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball.

Troy has a steady job as a garbage collector, and makes $76 every Friday to give to his wife Rose (Viola Davis), who is in charge of finances.  They have a modest apartment and a 17 year old son Corey (Jovan Adepo), a promising high school football star looking to win a scholarship and go to college.  Older son Lyons (Russell Hornsby) has moved out, trying to make his way as a musician.  On payday there is enough change left over to buy a pint of Emerald’s Dry Gin and hang around the back yard shooting the bull with his best friend Jim Bono (Stephen Henderson).  Troy is sociable and extroverted, loves his family including his mentally challenged brother Gabriel (Mykelti Williamson) who was seriously wounded in WW II, and Troy tries his best to keep all the plates spinning so everyone is cared for.  He does this because he is the man, the head of the household, and it is his responsibility.  But at times, the pain he feels as a black man who has had to struggle too hard to survive bubbles up to the surface to fuel his anger, as well as a deep resentment that he never had a shot at greatness as a ball player.

Fences, originally a play by August Wilson, was a celebrated success on Broadway.  Denzel Washington and Viola Davis played the parts on the stage, and brought their considerable talents to this film.  This is a totally character driven movie with 90% of the scenes taking place in the house or the back yard.  The characters are so real you can feel their joy, their pain, and their resignation that they must accept the hand that life has dealt them.  Only Corey with his youthful idealism believes that he can make a better life for himself.  This film defines the experience of what it was like for many black families at that time in America.  The acting in this film is brilliant.  My pick for Best Picture Oscar, as well as Oscars for Denzel Washington and Viola Davis.

Mini Trailers: 

Troy – “I eye all the women.  I don’t miss nothing.”  Rose – “I told him if you ain’t the marrying kind to move out of the way so the marrying kind can find me!”

Bono – “Ain’t but two men ever played baseball as good as you; Babe Ruth and Josh Gibson.”

Troy – “Jackie Robinson!  I seen some teams Jackie Robinson couldn’t even make!  If you can play, you should be able to play.”

Troy – “If my brother didn’t have a metal plate in his head I wouldn’t have a roof over my head or a pot to piss in.”

Corey – “Can I ask you a question?”  How come you never liked me?”  Troy – “What law is there that say I got to like you?”

Gabriel – “I been chasing hell hounds.  The Devil ain’t no pushover!”

Bono – “Some people build fences to keep people out, and some people build fences to keep people in.”

Troy – “It’s not easy for me to admit I’ve been standing in the same place for 18 years.”     Rose – “What about me?  I’ve been standing in the same place too!”

“Life ain’t fair, that’s for damn sure.  As Troy liked to say, a big part of getting through life is knowing you have to take the crooked with the straight.”

 

 

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The Magnificent Seven

Movie:  The Magnificent Seven

Rating:  3 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:    There’s gold in them hills, and Bart Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) means to get every nugget of it for himself.  If that means he has to threaten, terrorize or kill every sodbuster in Rose Creek, then that’s what he means to do.  One of the few citizens with the gumption to stand up to Bad Bart is Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett).  She hustles over to nearby Amador City, and as luck would have it, makes the acquaintance of Sam Chisom (Denzel Washington), a duly sworn warrant officer in Wichita, Kansas and seven states.

Emma pleads her tale of woe to Chisom, who is not especially inclined to intercede on her behalf until the name of Bart Bogue comes up.  Apparently Sam Chisom has some knowledge of what a scurrilous rogue Bogue is, and maybe even some past history.  For whatever reason, Chisom and new acquaintance Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), who also seems pretty handy with a gun, set off to settle matters with Mr. Bogue.  They wisely come to the conclusion that more help is needed if they are to have any chance against Bogue and his small mercenary army of thugs and scurrilous killers, so along the way they pick up five more compadres to aid in the cause.  They run into Goodnight Robichaux (Ethan Hawke), a sharpshooter of some renown, along with his side kick Billy Rocks, a knife throwing son of a gun.  Then there is Vasquez (Manual Garcia-Rulfo), a Mexican bandit, Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onfrio), a mountain man, and finally Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), a Comanche warrior alienated from his tribe.  This motley crew with deadly skills are all that stands between the good people of Rose Creek and oblivion.  There will be a showdown….

This film is solid entertainment with more rootin’, tootin’ shootin’ than any 3 westerns combined.  It takes quite a while to get to the confrontation, but will hold your interest until you get there.  For those movie fans acquainted with the classic version of The Magnificent Seven, it is not an exact remake.  Some general plot points are the same, but different enough to keep you interested.  Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt hold their own against the earlier duo of Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen.  The new cast probably doesn’t have the star power with the rest of the 1960 cast that boasted Charles Bronson, James Coburn and Robert Vaughn.  Still, it is a fun gallop into an exciting old west yarn.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Church Pastor – “This is the Lord’s house!  No place for guns.  There are women and children!”

Bart Bogue to Town’s People – “You’re standing not only in the way of capitalism but God.  I’ll give you $20 for each parcel of dust.”

Emma to Bart Bogue – “What kind of man are you?  What did these people ever do to you?  For land?”

Bart Bogue – “Leave the bodies where they lay.  I want them to look at them a few days.”

Chisom to Emma – “You seek revenge.”  Emma – “I seek righteousness.  But I’ll take revenge.”

Faraday – “Would you like to see another magic trick?  The disappearing ear.”

Chisom to Sheriff – I need you to send him a message.”  Sheriff – “You already sent him a message.  You’re not going to like the answer.”

Faraday – “Oh good, they brought their pitch forks!  We might stand a chance after all.”

Chisom – “I believe every man has the right to choose where he dies.”

Theme Music:  Yes, if you wait for the end of film credits you will get a bit of Elmer Bernstein’s classic theme song from the 1960 movie.