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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fences (2016)

Wow.  First of all, I have loved August Wilson for a very long time, and the opportunity to watch yet another of his plays about the African American experience in the 20th century with such incredible acting is something not to pass up. The fact that Tony Kushner, one of my favorite living American playwrights, helped bring it to the screen only adds to it's allure.  For me.  Let me clarify that my second said that this movie should be called "Denzel Washington and Viola Davis put on an acting clinic in an otherwise boring movie".  I am giving her my vote for best supporting actress, that is for sure, and Denzel Washington's performance is brilliant, but he has the bad luck to be up the same year that Casey Affleck completely nailed an impossible role.
Why do I love this so much?  August Wilson’s plays are rich, poetic, wordy affairs tinged with music, the magical nature of myth, and symbolic elements that work extremely well as live theater. Since theater is an intimate medium, the general consensus on translating plays to screen is to “open up” the play, which quite often destroys the natural fabric of the work. The masterful thing about Denzel Washington’s direction here is that he doesn’t exactly open up the play. Instead, he opens up the visual frame around the players.  Still, the play like quality predominates, and there are ALOT of words, that is for sure.  Washington's character, the age of my grandparents,  is unlikable for very real reasons that help frame modern day life for African Americans.

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