Fences

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Let's see… One Oscar win (Viola Davis, for Best Supporting Actress), three nominations (Best Picture; Denzel Washington for Best Actor; Best Adapted Screenplay for August Wilson). So, yes it's good. But it's way too long.

Or maybe it's just that I like Action Movie Denzel better than Serious Drama Denzel. Maybe I should bump that Magnificent Seven remake a little higher in the Netflix queue.

Anyway, Mr. Washington plays Troy Maxson, a Pittsburgh garbageman. He's had a rocky life: a talented baseball player, years before that could have brought him riches. A prison stint for homicide. But now (the movie's set sometime in the late 50's) he's settled down in a small house with wife Rose (Ms. Davis) and son Cory. There's a grown son from a previous relationship, who (initially) seems to be a deadbeat with dreams of making it as a musician. There's brother Gabe (Mykelti Williamson, Limehouse from Justified!) who's permanently deranged from dreadful war wounds. And best friend Bono, who's a calming and wise presence. Everybody's more or less saintlike, except…

Troy is a complex bundle of love, appetites, charm, frustrations, and rage. There's a lot to admire about him, but also a lot to despise. You can almost see the angels and demons perched on his shoulders. What held my interest was whether his good qualities would prevail over the bad. Unfortunately, the movie went on for a long time after this question was answered to my satisfaction. Everybody just kept talking.

August Wilson wrote the screenplay (uh, before he died) based on one of his many plays. These roots show, as most of the movie is set in the Maxson household.

URLs du Jour

2017-06-22

■ A slightly obscure Proverbs 24:7:

7 Wisdom is too high for fools;
    in the assembly at the gate they must not open their mouths.

So back in ancient Israel "assembly at the gate" was a thing, and fools were admonished to not cause problems there. What would a modern equivalent be?

@kevinNR writes About That Russian ‘Interference’.

Even if one assumes the very worst about President Trump and the people around him (as I am inclined to do), it is unlikely that evidence of collusion would be uncovered because — this is key — it almost certainly is not there. I don’t expect to see any evidence of collusion between Trump and the Russians for the same reason I did not expect to see any evidence of collusion between Lois Lerner’s politicized IRS and President Obama: The invisible hand of the corruption marketplace can do its work without a lot of committee meetings. Lerner didn’t need to be told to persecute conservative political groups, and the wild boys in Moscow weren’t waiting for the keen thinking of Donald J. Trump before they got moving on whatever it is they were actually up to. Contact between the two wouldn’t serve anybody’s interests — it would have endangered both parties’ interests.

This is turning into the Democrat equivalent of the "must be a pony in here somewhere" joke.

■ Jay Nordlinger writes on China dissidents: Hard Choices, Hard Lives.

It is a vicious period for human-rights lawyers in China. The boss of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping, has cracked down on them, hard. Two years ago, the Party rounded up some 250 of them, in what has become known as the “709 Crackdown.” (The arrests started on July 9.) These lawyers have been tortured, some of them into insanity.

There's a link to a longer article by Jay. It would be nice to think that this would be the kind of thing to stop President Trump from kissing up to the Chinese dictator. Not holding my breath.

Power Line blogger Scott W. Johnson writes on his legal woes, all due to his attendance at President Trump's 100-day reception for conservative media in the White House: Don’t Subpoena Me, Bro.

In a sequel to this particular magic carpet ride, however, I have now been caught up in the so-called “travel ban” litigation challenging President Trump’s executive orders “protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States.” On June 10, I was served with a letter and draft subpoena from Tana Lin of the Keller Rohrback law firm’s Seattle office alerting me to my “document preservation obligations with respect to documents that are relevant or potentially relevant to this litigation.” Lin represents plaintiffs in Doe v. Trump, venued before Judge James Robart in the federal district court for the Western District of Washington.

It's chilling, in a legal sense. Johnson notes that it seems "like glorified harassment of a conservative writer."

■ At the Chronicle of Higher Education, Steve Kolowich starts the joke: 2 Professors Walk Into a Dumpster Fire .... The profs are Lawrence Tribe of Harvard and Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth, the University on the Other Side of the State.

"Bizarrely," wrote Mr. Nyhan last weekend, Mr. Tribe "has become an important vector of misinformation and conspiracy theories on Twitter."

Nyhan is far from a Trump apologist, but he's one of the few honest liberals; he's on the "Blogs I Read" over there on the right, but he seems to have gone over to mostly-Twitter these days. Pun Salad tweaked him years ago here and here.

■ Emily Zanotti at Heat Street reports on the dialog between California Senator Dianne Feinstein and Pun Salad Hero Eugene Volokh: Sen. Dianne Feinstein Defends Campus Fascists Instead of Free Speech. You will not be surprised who got the better of the argument.

[Senator Dianne] claimed that a university could stop a conservative speaker from taking the stage just to protect students’ “general welfare.”

“I think particularly in view of the divisions within this nation at this time which are extraordinary from my experience, I think we all have to protect the general welfare too. And I appreciate free speech but it’s another thing to agitate, it’s another thing to foment, and it’s another thing to attack.”

Constitutional scholar and law professor Eugene Volokh, was forced to explain, slowly and in terms Feinstein could understand, that it’s the government’s responsibility to protect Constitutional guarantees of free speech. A simple difference of ideas is not “fomenting” an attack—students have a choice on how to behave.

Is the 84-year-old Senator immune to education? We'll see, I guess.

■ Charles C. W. Cooke, writing at NRO notes that the FBI Report on Alexandria Quietly Debunks the Gun-Controllers’ Talking Points

Over the past two decades, Democrats have focused on three major proposals for reform. They are: 1) That all private transfers should be contingent upon a federal background check; 2) That firearms that look a certain way should be classed as “assault weapons” and prohibited from sale; and 3) That civilians should be forbidden from buying magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. None of these proposals intersect with what happened in Alexandria.

Specifically, the shooter bought his weapon in Illinois, which had (and has) some of the strictest gun-purchase restrictions in the country.

■ Jazz Shaw (a Navy vet), at Hot Air, notes the heroism of Gary Leo Rehm Jr.: Paying The Last Full Measure Of Devotion On The USS Fitzgerald

Petty Officer Rehm was someone who was up topside at one point as the emergency unfolded. He had “made it” to where there was fresh air and the chance to escape if the ship wound up foundering. He could have chosen to stay there. He could have bailed out. But he didn’t. He went back down below decks into that hellscape of flooding and blaring alarms to rescue his crewmates. He did so repeatedly, saving twenty of them. But his last trip to get the remaining men was one too many.

It's a sobering, inspiring story, and—oh yeah—something not "fit to print" at the New York Times.