Cinema Dispatch: Fences

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Fences and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Denzel Washington

So what we have is one of the most respected black actors making a film based off of a multiple award winning stage play in a year where the Academy is looking for ANY film to try and make up for OSCAR SO WHITE.  Well, since Birth of a Nation turned out to be underwhelming and Moonlight being under the radar for most, chances are that Denzel’s big film of the year is gonna be a HUGE winner come the end of February.  Still, being ripe Oscar bait doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a GOOD movie (*cough* The King’s Speech *cough*), and there are plenty of films that won awards that no one cared about even a year later (*cough* Chariots of Fire *cough*).  Is this one of those that exists solely to maximize Oscar wins, or is there more beneath the surface what with the immense talent in front of and behind the camera?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is about the Maxson family; primarily the patriarch breadwinner Troy (Denzel Washington), his loving yet firms wife Rose (Viola Davis), and their son Cory (Jovan Adepo). The family lives a comfortable if somewhat tiring life in the Pittsburg suburbs where Troy spends five days a week hauling garbage and the other two days complaining that he never got his shot to play baseball professionally.  Naturally, he’s the kind of guy who makes sure that EVERYONE knows what he could have been if he wasn’t such a gosh darn loving and responsible father, and this attitude starts to get him into more and more trouble as the play goes along; including when his son is given a shot to go to college on a football scholarship that he isn’t too keen on letting him accept.  Will this man’s bitterness and resentment towards the world lead to his family (including his son from another family Lyons played by Russell Horsnby and his brother Gabriel who suffered brain damage during the war played by Mykelti Willamson) to finally turn their back on him no matter how many meals his paycheck gives them?  What else is he getting up to that neither he nor his best friend Jim Bono (Stehen McKinley Henderson) aren’t too keen on talking about?  Just how much screen time is too much for Denzel!?

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Trick question.  You can NEVER have too much screen time with him!

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Cinema Dispatch: The Magnificent Seven

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The Magnificent Seven and all the images you see in this review are owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Columbia Pictures

Directed by Antoine Fuqua

The original Magnificent Seven is a movie that’s on my depressingly large list of movies that I really should see at some point and unfortunately I didn’t get around to it before this remake came out.  That said, the premise isn’t all that hard to grasp and it’s definitely trying to reach a new young audience if the advertisements are anything to go on.  That and the addition of Chris Pratt doesn’t hurt either as the guy couldn’t be hotter with the younger demographics after star turning roles in Guardians of the Galaxy as well as Jurassic World.  Does this reinterpretation of one of the most classic stories of all time turn out to be a modern day classic, or is it doomed to live in the shadow of its predecessor?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with the town of Rock Ridge… I mean Rose Creek, being under siege from the EVIL rich guy Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) who wants to drive everyone out of there so he can mine the shit out of the place for gold and other valuable resources.  After burning down the local church and killing a few of the locals, they realize they can’t handle this on their own and they need some help.  After all, they worked too damn hard killing off all the Native Americans to build this town on their land for some rich asshole to take it all away from them!  Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) who is the widow of one of the dead guys goes to a nearby town with her friend Teddy (Luke Grimes) to find some tough guys to chase Bart’s friends out of town!  For their efforts, they find the bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) who then helps them gather the rest of the crew which includes the Chris Pratt archetype Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), an old-timey sniper Goodnight Robicheux (Ethan Hawke), his best buddy with the kick ass name Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), a wild mountain man Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), some random outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Ruflo), and a Comache hunter Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier).  Now all of them have their own reason for taking on such an impossible task (some less plausible than others as I still have no idea what Red Harvest is after), but it’s not going to be an easy fight as they’ve got an army to go up against and they have maybe a few dozen farmers to train up and give them support once the shit hits the fan.  Can this town be saved from the onslaught of Bart’s men?  Why exactly did Sam accept this job in the first place, and could he have ulterior motives?  Who thinks they’re gonna accurately predict which ones will die?  Think you can do better than me!?

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For the record, two of my guesses were right!

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