Moonlight (2017 dir. Barry Jenkins)

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Image result for Moonlight film posterIf I told you that this film was about a gay man from the Miami housing projects, his drug addicted mother and his friendship with a local drug dealer what would you expect? Dark imagery, gratuitous scenes of sex, drug abuse and violence?  Probably. However this film is not typical or is it stereotypical of the people it depicts. Instead it is a beautifully shot, delicate, very thoughtful and thought provoking look at sexuality, masculinity and the moments that shape us.

Based on the semi-autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin Mccraney it explores the coming of age of Chiron in three acts as he progresses towards adulthood. His mother, played by Naomi Harris, is addicted to crack and through this neglect he meets and befriends local drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali). Chiron is an outsider, he is chased by local boys in the film’s opening and viciously bullied as a teenager and although he grows into a muscled adult who can defend himself he is vulnerable throughout.

The most explicit scene in this film is between a man and a women yet the film explores gay masculinity and sexuality. It does this through inference, using gesture codes and sound in a way which is sensitive and sincere.

The cinematography in Moonlight is beautiful. The frames are filled with colour and light which reminds the audience that this story unfolds in sunny Miami and the shot types and angles capture the characters’ emotions, vulnerability and point of view.

I went to see the film at the Ritzy in Brixton with my sister, who, as I am, is full of praise for this artistic piece of moving image. After the film there was a Q & A with the director Barry Jenkins, who says that he was given full artistic freedom on the film, and playwright Tarell Alvin Mccraney. Here is an extract from the discussion.

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La La Land (2016 dir. Damien Chazelle)

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With 14 Oscar nominations, La La Land is a triumphant musical  about Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jazz pianist, and aspiring actress, Mia (Emma Stone). The story line focuses on the changing states of their relationship while they seek out their dreams in Hollywood.

Both Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have received much praise for their performances and it is well deserved. Ryan Gosling is utterly charming as the dexterous Sebastian and his tender looks draw the audience in closer and create empathy.

I loved this film, the colours, the characters and the chemistry between the leads but the best thing about La La Land, much as I expected, is Justin Hurwitz‘s musical score, holding the narrative together, keeping the film’s pace and making the audience relate to and revisit the protagonists’ journey.

 

My Old Lady (2014 dir. Israel Horovitz)

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My Old Lady is a comedy drama about a troubled American, Mathias (Kevin Kline), who inherits his father’s apartment in Paris only to discover that it is inhabited by 90 year old ‘viager’ Mathilde (Maggie Smith) and her daughter Chloe (Kristin Scott Thomas). The viager system for buying and selling apartments means that Mathias will not get the apartment until Mathilde dies, and that while she is alive he must pay her €2400 a month.

Recovering alcoholic Mathias is broke and homeless and Mathilde allows him to stay with her in exchange for his watch. Whilst there he plots to sell the apartment to a wealthy lawyer, upsets Chloe and secretly sells and pockets money in exchange for their precious vintage furniture.

He is obnoxious and yet through the retelling of past experiences is able to eventually bond with the pair.

This is a sophisticated film with a complex and entertaining storyline that though meanders to a somewhat predictable end, remains engaging and funny throughout.