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 Purge: Election Year

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The Purge: Election Year and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by James DeMonaco

For the past few months, there hasn’t been a movie I was more excited to see than this one.  I still haven’t seen the first movie, but the SECOND one is a really great B-Movie in the vein of John Carpenter or even modern day directors like Gareth Evans.  It was more than just an action shlock-fest though as it really wanted to say something about its premise in between the outrageous violence.  This one though?  This looks like they’re going full-tilt on having something to say about society, politics, and violence in our culture!  In between the brutal murders and silly costumes of course.  Does this manage to be yet another sequel this year that ends up better than the previous film, or have they run out of genuine ideas and are now just parroting hot button issues?  Let’s find out!!

The movie takes place two years after the events of The Purge: Anarchy where Frank Grillo’s character from the that film FINALLY has a name (Leo Barnes) and has somehow found his way to being the head of security for Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) who is poised to win the Presidential Election that year and will hopefully end the purge.  Unfortunately for her, the ruling party in the US Government (the New Founding Fathers of America, or NFFA) would very much like to keep their jobs and to keep the purge going so they can kill lots more poor people, so their plan to stop the senator is to change the rules of the purge so as to lift the ban on killing government officials; leaving them free to send a whole bunch of mercs (neo-Nazi ones of course) to take her out.  Well not if Frank Grillo has anything to say about it!  He manages to get her away from the assassins after their initial assault on the Senator’s home and they end up finding a few people trying to survive the night and more than willing to help the senator who will bring an end the purge once and for all.  These include Joe Dixon (Mykelit Williamson) who owns a small convenience store that is being threatened that night, his employee Marcos (Joseph Julian Soria) who wants to help his boss, and Laney Rucker (Betty Gabriel) who is one of the volunteers that helps people get medical treatment during purge night.  Can this rag tag group of badasses manage to outrun the NFFA?  Will Senator Roan be able to win the election, or should they find a way to ensure her victory this very night?  There have been what, fifteen purges already?  You’d think some of these people would find it all passé at this point.

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“We’re hardcore bro!”     “You’re all a bunch of posers!”

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