Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Most Depressing Double Feature I Ever Had

OK, the main reason was learning she died.

This happened five minutes after Manchester By The Sea ended at the Century Riverside 12 in Reno. Thanks to some handy discounts I saw this and another movie for less than nine bucks, and basically saw the top contenders for the Oscars in February. I learned about it on my phone, and told a few people who were nearby. I fully expect people to make a return trip to their local theater to see Rogue One just one more time, along with the main Star Wars movies and The Force Awakens. This will be a long week, but this will be the only way such fans, including me, will cope.
To think, I had a chance to go see her when she was at Comic-Con. Then again, I thought she'd last longer than her mom, Debbie Reynolds. At least I have her autograph.

Getting back to Manchester, I wanted to know if Casey Affleck's performance is really a guaranteed award-winner. It''s pretty good, although I also liked Lucas Hedges as the teen who's also a main part of the story.

The movie is about Lee (Affleck), a handyman who maintains several apartments while living in a small basement apartment. He gets news that his brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler), died from heart failure, and that he has to take care of his nephew Patrick, played by Hedges. Lee is very reluctant to do this, mainly because of a shocking tragedy from his past. During the first half, the movie looks at Lee dealing with his brother's death and the new responsibilities while also adding flashbacks to his past, and that tragedy. It's a shocking moment that drives him away from his family and his wife, played by Michelle Williams. Seeing both Lee and Patrick in their younger days, when they were much closer while fishing in Joe's boat, is touching. However, seeing Lee deal with the tragedy is also heart-breaking.
Hedges is also great as a teen who's stressed out by way too many things, from hockey and losing his dad to trying to reconnect with his uncle and how this will affect his life. There's also a scene where he visits his mom (Gretchen Mol) and his new sort-of creepy fiance (Matthew Broderick). Patrick finds his mom via e-mail but another e-mail will upset him. Hedges just might sneak in for Supporting Actor, but may not win.

The story also took Lee and Patrick's relationship to unexpected roads, especially at the end. It's a good decision by writer and director Kenneth Lonergan to have a story where a family tries to recover from tragedies, but also an ending that is honest.

The other movie I saw was the adaptation of August Wilson's classic play, Fences. We can thank Denzel Washington for this, being director and the star. This is basically the same play that wowed Broadway a few years ago, but on a sound stage. It's about a Pittsburgh garbageman in 1956, still bitter over what could have been. He used to be a ball player, but before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. When we first meet Troy, he's talking to his friend Bono over the fact that all garbage truck drivers are white. Troy breaks that color line, but he's still bitter about other things. He argues with his son over whether he should play football, but has a loving relationship with his wife Rose that crumbles when a big secret is revealed.

Washington is realy good as Troy, while Davis just takes her Tony Award-winning performance to the screen and makes it even better. While she's in the Supporting Actress races, people wonder if she could beat Natalie Portman or Emma Stone in Best Actress. It would have been very possible.

From here, I'll be looking forward to Jackie and Hidden Figures over the next few weeks, and the Oscar nominations in a month.

In the meantime, I'll toast Carrie with the screen test that started it all:

Carrie Fisher by andaluska

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