Posts Tagged ‘Denzel Washington’

Title of Dignity

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Director: Dan Gilroy

Cast: Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Amanda Warren, Carmen Ejogo, Sam Gilroy, Tony Plana

Oscar winner Denzel Washington (Glory, Training Day) received another Oscar nomination for Best Actor at the 2018 Academy Awards for his betrayal of human rights lawyer Roman J. Israel Esq. in a film of the same name perceptively directed by Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy.

Dan Gilroy expands his notion of urban cinema further in the compelling legal drama Roman J. Israel Esq. whereby the city in this case Los Angeles becomes another character in his film like it did so vividly in the disturbing Nightcrawler.

Its Roman who is living in downtown L.A. who doesn’t drive and catches public transport, living in an old apartment building next to a condominium construction site whereby he continually complains to city authorities about the after all hour noise levels.

Roman J. Israel Esq follows the story of an out of touch human rights lawyer who is unwillingly thrust into the legal limelight when his more esteemed partner has a sudden heartache. Roman takes on a case about a young African-American boy who is accused of killing an Armenian drugstore worker.

However, Roman’s case soon is not what it seems when he falls under the guidance of hotshot attorney George Pierce, a slick oily performance by the impressive Colin Farrell (The Beguiled).

Pierce soon lures Roman into the corporate legal world with plush offices in a downtown skyscraper overlooking a busy Californian highway. Roman also has to contend with his own ethical and moral convictions as he battles with the idea of being seduced by the trappings of wealth and commercialism, which conflict so sharply with his idealistic human rights beliefs.

These beliefs are embodied in Roman’s awkward relationship with the head of a civil rights Non-Profit organisation, Maya Alston played by Nigerian British actress Carmen Ejogo (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them).

Roman’s former law firm is being wrapped up by his incapacitated partner’s niece Lynn Jackson played by Amanda Warren last seen in the Oscar winning Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.

As the case of the young accused becomes increasingly more complex and Roman J. Israel Esq in a desperate bid to earn fast cash does something illegal against all ethical considerations, the consequences of which come crashing down on a L. A. lawyer who like the inner city he dwells in, eventually consumes his entire existence.

Roman J. Israel Esq is a compelling examination of dignity, career ethics and the seduction of wealth, held together by a mesmerizing performance by Denzel Washington who plays the civil rights lawyer grappling to adapt to the changes of a millennial environment, while still listening to his Walkman and clutching a bulging briefcase on a legal motion to transform the Federal law system by giving each defendant a stronger chance of being represented equally and fairly before the law.

Roman J. Israel Esq gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and is highly recommended for those viewers that savour a complex and ethically dubious legal thriller filled with conflicting images of paranoia and idealism. 

Pittsburgh Patriachy

Fences

Director: Denzel Washington

Cast: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson, Stephen Henderson

Viola Davis gives a career defining performance in Fences, the big screen adaptation of the Pulitizer Prize winning play by August Wilson directed and starring Oscar winner Denzel Washington (Training Day, Glory). Davis whose previous credits include The Help, Eat, Pray, Love and Doubt recently won all the major acting awards including the Golden Globe, the Bafta and the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at the 89th Academy Awards in February 2017.

Her performance in Fences is a testament to her immense talent. Davis plays Rose Maxson opposite Denzel Washington as Troy Maxson, a 1950’s African American garbage collector in Pittsburgh who punishes his sons for his own failed dreams.

Denzel Washington inhabits the screen in his larger than life portrayal of Troy, the Pittsburgh patriarch who is intent on demonstrating how hard he has worked to keep his family together, only to reveal far deeper character flaws and underlying fragility which comes out in the play’s stunning second act.

Troy’s sons Lyons and Cory, played by Russell Hornsby and Jovan Adepo are continually chided for pursuing their own dreams. Lyons, a son from Troy’s first relationship wants to be a jazz musician while the teenage Cory wonderfully played by Adepo is constantly held back from participating in the city’s football league merely because his father’s dreams of becoming a major football player were dashed at a young age.

Wilson carefully scripts the conflict scenes between Troy and Cory as they clash over ambition, careers and what is holding them back. Fences is about a working class African American family held together by Rose, as the mother figure who has to contend with all this male egotism and bravado, only to stoically continue when she is unforgivably betrayed.

Like all films based on plays, the action is limited to the Maxson’s house  and backyard where domestic clashes are played out in brilliant dialogue which requires exceptional acting capabilities. When Rose discovers a serious transgression of Troy, her security is shattered and her devotion to her husband is undoubtedly brought into question, causing a significant rift between Troy and Cory who cannot forgive his father for what he has done to his mother.

Directed by Denzel Washington and featuring brilliant performances by the entire cast, Fences is a superb film adaptation of an American classic elevating the lives of ordinary working class people to extraordinary clarity amidst a time when historically America was transforming through the significant Civil Rights movement. When JFK and Martin Luther King heralded a new decade in American politics defined by radical change and constant upheaval.

When the youth especially Cory and Lyons start questioning the wisdom of their parents decisions and more specifically their spectacular mistakes. Audiences should watch out for a particularly outstanding performance by Mykelti Williamson (Forest Gump, Heat, Con Air) as Troy’s disabled brother Gabriel.

Washington and Davis are electrifying as husband and wife and their screen time is a cinematic gem. Fences is highly recommended viewing, a brilliant film made all the more exceptional by Viola Davis’s unparalleled performance, in which she deserved every award bestowed upon her. Fences gets 9 out of 10.

2016 Toronto Film Festival

2016 Toronto International

Film Festival Winners

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Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) takes place every year in September in Toronto, Canada.

Films which premiere at Toronto are often nominated for Academy Awards the following year.

TIFF does not hand out individual prizes for Best Actor or Actress but focuses on amongst others the following awards:
People’s Choice Award & Best Canadian Feature Film

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Opening Night Film: The Magnificent Seven directed by Antoine Fuqua starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke

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People’s Choice Award: La La Land directed by Damien Chazelle – starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Finn Wittrock, J. K. Simmons & Rosemarie DeWitt

Best Canadian Film: Those who make Revolution only Dig their Graves Halfway directed by Mathieu Denis and Simon Lavoie

 

Reclaiming the West

The Magnificent Seven

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Director:  Antoine Fuqua

Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Luke Grimes, Matt Bomer, Martin Sensmeier, Cam Gigandet

Antoine Fuqua gathers his favourite actors into his latest impressive film.

In Fuqua’s bespoke remake of John Sturgeon’s 1960 classic film The Magnificent Seven, as an African American film director he reclaims the Western genre in a bold step towards reimagining American Western mythology which will surely shape how cinema goers view the Western film genre.

Gone are the days of Western films primarily being made up of morally dubious cowboys mostly played by dashing European actors fighting savage Red Indians or each other in high noon stand offs.

Director Fuqua’s superb The Magnificent Seven is as diverse as Westerns come, showing that while perceptions of the American West have largely been Eurocentric, the real history of the American West was far more complex.

The setting is Rose Creek, California in 1879. A small dusty town a three day ride away from the Californian state capital Sacramento, at the height of the Gold Rush.

Rose Creek is being tormented by a malicious industrialist Bartholomew Bogue wonderfully played against type by character actor Peter Sarsgaard (Blue Jasmine), who not only burns down the moral centre of the town, the church, but casually kills some its town folk, much to the horror of the remaining witnesses.

Rose Creek’s town representative, a feisty widow Emma Cullen, played by rising star Haley Bennett enlists the help of sharp shooter Chisolm, expertly played by Oscar winner Denzel Washington (Training Day, Glory).

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Chisolm gathers a motley crew of cowboys and one red Indian, consisting of the heavy drinking Irishman Josh Faraday, comically played by Chris Pratt, sharp shooter Goodnight Robicheaux played by Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Before Sunrise), lonesome tracker Jack Horne played by Vincent D’Onofrio, Billy Rocks played by Korean star Byung-hun Lee, Vasquez, played by rising Mexican star Manual Garcia-Rulfo last seen in Cake opposite Jennifer Aniston and finally Native American actor Martin Sensmeier who plays Comanche Indian Red Harvest.

With the gang in tow and the town folk galvanized for action, audiences should expect the final gun battle of Rose creek to be thrilling. Fortunately this is where The Magnificent Seven delivers as the final act of the film is truly brilliant, with superb sound editing and haunting production design, Fuqua pays homage to the original version and to the genre as a whole while deftly reimagining Westerns as a more diverse and multi-cultural affair.

Not since the Coen brothers reworking of the Oscar nominated True Grit, have I enjoyed a Western as much. The Magnificent Seven does justice to its genre assisted by superb performances by Washington and Sarsgaard as opponents with a vicious score to settle.

Audiences that enjoyed James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers True Grit, will love Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven as he reclaims the Western genre and hopefully opens the doors for this much loved film genre to be bravely re-explored in the 21st century. This is a genre which desperately needs a Hollywood resurgence.

Now if only a director could tackle a film version of Cormac McCarthy’s brutal tale of the Mexican frontier wars in his gripping Western novel, Blood Meridian, then that would be a film worth seeing.

57th Golden Globe Awards

The 57th Golden Globe Awards

Took place on Sunday 23rd January 2000 by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Golden Globe Winners in The Film Categories:

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Best Film Drama – American Beauty

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Best Actor Drama – Denzel Washington – The Hurricane

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Best Actress Drama – Hilary Swank – Boys Don’t Cry

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Best Actor Musical/Comedy – Jim Carrey – Man on the Moon

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Best Actress Musical/Comedy – Janet McTeer – Tumbleweeds

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Best Film Musical/Comedy – Toy Story 2

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Best Supporting Actor – Tom Cruise – Magnolia

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Best Supporting Actress – Angelina Jolie – Girl, Interrupted

Best Director – Sam Mendes – American Beauty

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Best Foreign Language Film – All About My Mother (Spain)

Blowing up Corpus Christi

2 Guns

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Director: Baltasar Kormakur

Cast: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Edward James Olmos, James Marsden, Fred Ward, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton

Denzel Washington (Flight, Safe House) and Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter, Contraband) star in the Boom studios graphic novels film version 2 Guns, which is a basically a Tex Mex version of 48 Hours with all the classic formulaic traits of a buddy action film, reminiscent of the 1980’s complete with snappy dialogue and explosive action. Oscar winner Denzel Washington plays tough DEA agent Bobby Trench who unwillingly teams up with sexy and smart Michael Stigman played by former Calvin Klein underwear model Mark Wahlberg as they blow up diners with the best donuts in town in a Texas border town as a means of distraction against robbing a nearby bank packed with loads of Mexican drug cartel dollars.

Muchos dineros in Spanish means lots of dollars and Washington and Wahlberg both get more than they bargained for when they discover the amount of loot, which not only belongs to the shady Mexicans across the border but is wanted by Naval Intelligence and a vicious CIA operative which have been keeping the Mexican drug cartels in business.

Three groups of gangs are on their tail from the CIA in the form of Earl superbly played by Bill Paxton (Titanic, Haywire), a rogue Naval intelligence unit headed by Quince, played by James Marsden (a welcome change from his pretty boy image as seen in Hairspray) and a Sonora Mexican drug cartel headed up by the bull loving Papi Greco wonderfully played by Edward James Olmos (recently seen in the TV series Dexter as the Doomsday Killer).

Add in to this crazy mix is Paula Patton (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) as the voluptuous Deb another DEA agent serving as some eye candy for the clearly male targeted audience and the usual chaos which ensues when Trench and Stigman decide to trust each other enough to team up together, making the convoluted plot twists more plausible by a fantastic onscreen chemistry between the two Hollywood heavy weights.

Denzel Washington as the tough and elusive Bobby Trench, while Oscar Nominee Mark Wahlberg as the eye-winking younger and sharp-mouthed wise guy clearly makes 2 Guns not just worth watching, but highly enjoyable and humorous, filled with car chases, bull-running and an explosive sequence at a naval base in Corpus Christi, Texas. Watch out for a great cameo by Fred Ward as a Naval Commander Admiral Tuwey.

2 Guns, by Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur who also directed Wahlberg in Contraband unapologetically takes much inspiration from such 1980’s classic action films as Lethal Weapon, 48 Hours and Beverley Hills Cop, and while there is less comedy and more action, it is a thoroughly entertaining way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Lots of violence, swearing and bull running, this machismo action thriller, complete with a Mexican standoff is a wonderful pairing of these two talented Hollywood megastars.

The likeable talented duo of Washington and Wahlberg effortlessly produce that onscreen chemistry which is casual, cool and funny. 2 Guns is recommended for those that enjoy US-Mexican cross border drug running bank robber films without the insane gore and menace of Savages or No Country for Old Men.

2000 Berlin Film Festival

2000 Berlin Film Festival Winners

The Berlin International Film Festival known as the Berlinale takes places annually in February and is regarded as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.

2000 BIFF

Winners of the four main prizes at the 2000 Berlin Film Festival were as follows: –

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Golden Bear (Best Picture) – Magnolia directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

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Best Director – Milos Forman – Man on the Moon

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Best Actor – Denzel Washington – The Hurricane

Best Actress – Bibiana Beglau & Nadja UhlDie Stille nach dem Schuß (The Legend of Rita)

 

 

74th Academy Awards

74th Academy Awards

24th March 2002

Oscar Winners at the 74th Academy Awards

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Best Picture: A Beautiful Mind

Best Director: Ron HowardA Beautiful Mind

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Best Actor: Denzel Washington – Training Day

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Best Actress: Halle Berry – Monster’s Ball

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Best Supporting Actor: Jim Broadbent – Iris

Best Support Actress: Jennifer Connelly – A Beautiful Mind

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Best Original Screenplay – Julian Fellowes – Gosford Park

Best Adapted Screenplay – Akiva Goldsman – A Beautiful Mind

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Best Foreign Language Film – No Man’s Land directed by Danis Tanovic (Bosnia-Herzegovina)

Best Documentary Feature: Murder on a Sunday Morning directed by Jean Xavier Lastrade and Denis Poncet

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Best Original Score – Howard Shore – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring

Best Cinematography – Andrew Lesnie – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring

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Best Costume Design – Catherine Martin and Angus Strathie – Moulin Rouge

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Best Film Editing – Pietro Scalia – Black Hawn Down

Best Visual Effects – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring

Source – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/74th_Academy_Awards

 

 

No One is Safe in the Mother City

Safe House

Rogue agents run riot in Cape Town

Taking its cue largely from the Bourne Trilogy and heavily influenced by the filmic style of Paul Greengrass who directed United 93 and The Bourne Supremacy, Safe House pairs a superb Denzel Washington with Ryan Reynolds in a gritty CIA Action thriller set mainly in and around Cape Town. Washington plays hard-edged rogue agent Tobin Frost who after escaping a shootout in downtown Cape Town, calmly walks into the American consulate seeking refuge. Reminiscent of Denzel Washington’s Oscar winning role in Training Day, this is a similar story of an experienced agent teaching a young junior level CIA officer all the tricks of the murky world of international espionage, replacing the Los Angeles crime world for the counter-espionage exotic Cape Town while Reynolds in his first action-role since the luke-warm super hero film Green Lantern is surprisingly brilliant as Matt Weston, stationed in Cape Town and whose primary job is to run a covert CIA safe house in the middle of the Mother City.

Safe House directed by Swedish born director Daniel Espinosa is a gritty, violent and action-packed edge of your seat thriller with some stunning car chases and even more daring and bloody fight scenes notably in the Greenpoint Stadium and Langa township sequences.

Providing counterbalance to the action occurring in a foreign city, is the scenes at Langley, Virginia, CIA headquarters with Oscar Nominee Vera Farmiga playing Catherine Linklater and Weston’s boss, David Barlow played by Brendan Gleesan who both head down to the Western Cape, South Africa to try and catch up with the rogue agent and his younger guardian, while the intelligence boss played by Sam Shepard remains set on containing  the truth.

The film style is realistic, gritty and tinged with a murky tone, influenced by The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Swedish version painting the usually glamourous Cape Town as a shady international city filled with foreign operatives from dodgy Nicaraguans to rogue MI6 agents, but definitely highlighting the city’s strategic importance on the global stage.

The pairing of Washington and Reynolds works beautifully and the latter holds his own as an ambitious CIA agent who is eager to achieve his own ambitions, whether by force or deceit. Worth watching!

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