On the radio, I heard the Oscar nominations.  I went over to the office to finish my syllabus and put together a homework assignment.  I thought about how expensive it would be to travel to Houston for the Super Bowl.  Would I really want to go there to watch Tom Brady win another trophy?  After going home for a shower and a lunch break, I walked over to the theatre to see “Fences.”  I had three hours before my class, so I had the time.  I had been avoiding this movie because I didn’t think I could stand the sight of Viola Davis with tears and snot all over her face, but it was a better film than I expected.  I didn’t like the idea of an actor as the director because they allow the actors to ramble on too much.  Like nearly all plays turned into movies, this movie seemed to have the characters talking for too long, particularly Denzel Washington as his character Troy.  It also feels like we’re spending forever in and around that house.  The setting is Pittsburgh in 1956.  I thought the dialogue was too obvious in a few spots, with characters commenting on what other characters were like.  We don’t need that kind of explanation.  I sympathized with Viola Davis’ character Rose.  If I had a vote, I might vote for her for the Oscar, considering that Nicole Kidman, Octavia Spencer, and Michelle Williams are in the same category.  I don’t think it’s totally out of line that it’s the Best Supporting Actress category, considering how dominant Troy is in this story.  Troy reminded me of my father at times, with that tough exterior.  I didn’t like how the story reveals Troy’s flaws.  While he preaches honesty and living right, he suddenly has he has another side to his life.  He didn’t show it during all that time he was working on the garbage truck or talking to his wife.  I wouldn’t quite say that he was right about his son’s budding athletic career, but my mind went back to “Hoop Dreams.”  Teenagers then and now don’t realize how competitive the world is.  I would have been hard for him to good to college and succeed.  I thought the ending went on for too long.  There is a point when a movie feels like it’s over, and it should wrap up.  Those last scenes were slow-paced and lingered on for a long time, although it didn’t reach the level of “The Return of the King.”  I liked how this movie was about people.  Cory seemed wishy-washy at the end, as if six years of thinking didn’t make him any more of a man.  If the movie is supposed to be about race relations, then it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, because it doesn’t show the interaction.  The symbolism of the fence wasn’t overbearing, but the sunlight coming through the clouds made me groan.  Years ago, a friend gave me a copy of the play in a hardback edition, probably because of the baseball theme.  I couldn’t imagine Denzel Washington being able to hit the massive home runs described in the dialogue, but I read that in real life he played basketball at Fordham with coach P.J. Carlesimo.  I read David Edelstein’s review, which seemed a bit too harsh, although I can see what he’s saying when he points out that Denzel Washington’s performance starts at such a high pitch.  Washington hits us with everything very quickly.  I thought about Rose, and how she was a bit foolish for not being more skeptical of Troy, given his past.  I’m not sure she should have been shocked after 18 years.  I think “Fences” is worth going out to see, although I would prefer to see “Hidden Figures” again.  I’d rather watch people going out and doing things rather than talking for a long time and commenting on everything.  “Fences” certainly wasn’t dull, although the old man sitting in the row in front of me might have fallen asleep.  I went out and gave my lecture, which was imperfect, and I was thankful that it wasn’t raining.  Some of the people who died on January 26 include Edward G. Robinson (1973), Jose Ferrer (1992), Abe Vigoda (2016).  Today is a birthday for Wayne Gretzky (56), Ellen DeGeneres (59), and Eddie Van Halen (62).

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