A loud proclamation of a new voice in cinema- Jenkins’ debut, 2008’s Medicine For Melancholy is a C+ ugly (not his fault—it cost like nothing to make) version of Linklater’s Before Sunrise- but Moonlight is his arrival (and judging from his follow up Beale Street his aesthetic tendencies and marks of his auteur status)
A meditation on masculinity—and, quite miraculously, we have one of the 21st century’s best cinematic character studies and it’s about a shy character- so rare and refreshing- a counter-point
Apparently a 1.5 million budget which is astonishing giving how beautiful the film is- detailed as well
Pastels galore- gorgeous
From Justin Chang “With a sensual palette deeply informed by the work of world-cinema titans like Claire Denis, Hou Hsiao-hsien and especially Wong Kar-wai, the director draws out Chiron’s inner life on screen in all its roiling emotional intensity, as well as its moments of quiet, anguished introspection” Travers calls it Jenkins a major filmmakers already
The Boris Gardnier song opening- wonderful and then we get that long take following Mahershala Ali out of the car with a dazzling 360 shot around Ali’s dealer. We see Chiron running by in a flash
Chapter 1 breaks, the different names of the characters with a black screen and a flashing blue light between sequences—this is so well done formally- it’s not quite Punch-Drunk Love but still
Does not overdue dialogue- each scene rests
Mozart swells as Ali’s character teaches young Chiron to swim—the characters goodness is almost overwhelming. This is one of 3 scenes where Ali’s performance and character can bring a viewer to devastation- so well done
The slow-motion muted shot of Chiron’s mother yelling with the pink color splash is a stunner—along with the opening shot the film’s stylistic apex
The three actors portraying Chiron are superb- they all have the hang-dog look down
Jenkins is already a master of the close-up much like Jonathan Demme
The beach scene in part 2, the yellow background then the patient montage close-up of their clothes and hands gripping sand
The mirror with blood close-ups—repetition in the close-ups
Formal brilliance: before act 3 we switch from a blue light to a red light and then flashback to
Character study- Chiron in act three is following in Juan (Ali’s character)’s footsteps.. he’s trapping, he’s got the car—it’s such a well-drawn character
There’s The 400 Blows and Truffaut here with the coming of age character, Linklater’s Boyhood, but visually there’s probably more in coming with WKW (some of the color) and Malick (Jenkins clearly has the eye of a photographer)
—painterly and pastel tones in the Florida locations—James Laxton as cinematographer deserves praise
I was extremely impressed with the acting of the young Alex Hibbert as the child Chiron in Moonlight. I think he arguably shows the most talent of the three actors portraying the character, and does so with very few lines. What are some other great child performances? The most obvious choice, and likely the best, is Jean-Pierre Leaud in The 400 Blows. I suppose you could call Judy Garland a child actor in The Wizard of Oz. Kara Hayward has some great moments in Moonrise Kingdom. Malick is very adept with children, and has given us Linda Manz’s work in Days of Heaven and Hunter McCracken’s in The Tree of Life. What are some others?
@Graham– hmm- Saoirse Ronan in Atonement, Anna Paquin in The Piano come to mind. Enzo Staiola in Bicycle Thieves.
David Bradley in Kes(1969).
Here is a beautiful video to visualize the Moonlight – Wong Kar-Wai connection, set to the soaring melodies of the film.
@Graham- very cool- thanks for sharing
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