Why you shouldn’t be intimidated by Moonlight | Film Review

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Director: Barry Jenkins

Starring: Alex Hibbert, Mahershala Ali, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes, Naomie Harris

Running time: 111 minutes

Certification: 15

Based on Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play In Moonlight Black Boys look Blue 

 

 

 

 

“Who is you?”

*A quick preface: this is just going to be a fairly brief review as, rightly so, this film has been everywhere and there are much better reviews to read such as this one by Empire or this one by the New York Times.


I don’t really know where to start in this review because it is such a delicate, moving, and unique film that has caused so many new and exciting conversations – even if some were caused by that Oscars blunder! In fact the reason I decided that I would post a review on the film, despite there already being so many, was because of a conversation about it that I had with my friend in which she said: “I’m not sure if I’ll go see it, it’s kind of intimidating”. 

I can totally understand why some people feel intimidated by Moonlight; it’s a film that has won 116 accolades, is carried by an incredibly small group of characters, and tackles the idea of going through life as poor, black, and gay.  All of these things make the film incredibly unique and some can be overawed by them, when really they are the very reasons people ought to see it!


The entire film is seeping with beauty; it’s hard not to notice every little detail as nothing feels redundant. The story is split into three chapters, each of which is titled after the nicknames of the protagonist Chiron. I’m not usually a fan of films which skip such large periods of time but for this film it was necessary and, much like Garth Davis’ Lion, the transitions were tied together with scenes set by the sea – the gentle sounds of the waves telling the audience that this was a key moment of Chiron’s life and now we get to see another. Throughout all three chapters everything is beautiful; from the disorientating scene of a chase, to the everyday diner, and even to shots showing the reality of substance abuse.

The balance between disorientation and beauty is also seen (or heard) through the soundtrack. It jumps from the melancholy renditions of Chiron’s theme by Nicholas Britell – there are three different versions, one for each chapter of his life – to loud hip hop songs like Cell Therapy by Goodie Mob.


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Of course I have to mention the spectacular cast. The three actors embodying Chiron -Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes – did a ridiculously fantastic job. For three actors to portray one character, a character with so much depth, so realistically is just wonderful to watch, it’s sometimes hard to believe they are different people with all their shared subtitles. The development of Chiron is so compelling and it would be nothing without the paternal figure of Juan, whom Chiron constantly turns to even despite his absence. Mahershala Ali, who plays Juan, was the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar due to his win as Best Supporting Actor and so deservedly. This is only one example of how Moonlight has defied the norms of cinema in such an important way.

Naomie Harris for me was the stand out performance as Chiron’s drug-addict mother Paula. Her presence throughout all the chapters is captivating. It would have been very easy for her performance to slip into the flat presentation of an apathetic “junkie”  but she doesn’t. She doesn’t even come close. Despite everything you can see her vulnerability and her love for Chiron, the final scene between the two being one of the most moving of the entire film.


So maybe this review wasn’t as brief as intended but believe me, there is a lot more I could talk about: Kevin, the cinematography by James Laxton, the ending! This is a film everybody should watch, not only because of the subject matter and the ground-breaking nature of it, but because, at the end of the day, it is a beautiful melancholy portrait of life.

“A genre defying film” – Dan Jolin, Empire

Current Reads

Easter is finally here, after what seems like an awfully long Winter period, but all I can think about are my exams. I can hear families walking their bouncing dogs outside and can see the river glistening, whenever it isn’t raining, and yet I’m just sat inside making notes and doing past papers over and over again. I generally love revision. For me there’s something really satisfying about it; but when you add in the pressure of having to work hard enough to achieve the right grades to get into the university of your dreams you never really become satisfied. My mind goes: “Yes, you finished off your notes and did a Latin translation, but you could’ve done two translations and maybe even started another English essay”.

However, I’ve tried not to let that get in the way of reading. My reading habits always tend to slip when I have exams (or anything that makes me stressed really!) but I’ve been trying to make a conscience effort to keep up with it this time. Of course with a tired brain there’s only so many pages I can flick through before I give up and switch over to the TV or Netflix (my current recommendations definitely being Clique on BBC Three, Line of Duty BBC One, and the new season of iZombie on Netflix!!). So I thought I’d talk a little bit about what books I’m currently reading – however slowly my pace might be!

Let me know what books and and TV shows you’ve been enjoying recently, I always love getting new recommendations!

Brexit Storytelling Competition

 

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I mentioned in my ‘New Years Resolutions’ post that I wanted to use my blog as a sort of diary – a place to share thoughts, reviews, stories, recommendations and more – and so that is what I’m doing! This isn’t going to be an especially long, interesting, or inspirational post but I thought it would be nice to talk about my experience with the Met Film School as winner of the Brexit Storytelling competition!


So I guess it all began on the 23rd of June when Britain voted to leave the EU. Personally, as I wanted to stay, I was disappointed by this. But something that especially struck me was that the government had refused to lower the voting age to 16, despite the importance of this Referendum and the fact that we wouldn’t be able to just wait another 4 years to express our views and potentially change the outcome. Some of my friends wanted to stay, some to leave, but we all wished we could have had a say in the matter. All we could do to show our frustration and our views was to retweet and share posts. Then, around two months later, when I was in Paris for my birthday I found out about the Brexit Storytelling Competition run by the Met Film School; immediately I thought Continue reading

Reviewing Beauty and the Beast

 

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I’ve wanted to do some film reviews on my blog for a while now and, as a massive Disney fan, I thought starting with Bill Condon’s live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast would be a lovely place to start. But please do excuse my rambling – I still don’t know what I’m doing!

The Original Beauty and the Beast has always been one of my favourite Disney Classics; not only do I adore the music, French setting, and beastly romance but also I have always seen part of myself in Belle. Continue reading

The Taming of the Shrew at The Globe

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“People describe Shrew as a problem play; I see it as a perfect opportunity to explore pressing issues surrounding gender and relationships – important for us all, especially young people.” – Jacqueline Defferary

Before I really get into the post I just want to say,  if you are able to get to London before the end of this month I IMPLORE YOU TO GO AND SEE THIS PRODUCTION OF THE TAMING OF THE SHREW! Whether you are already a Shakespeare fan or fancy giving it a shot, this adaptation is truly for everybody.

So time for a bit of context:
The Taming of the Shrew is one of, if not the most, debated about plays written by Shakespeare due to its supposed portrayal of psychological rape and misogyny. It is believed to be one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, written before 1592, and sees a drunkard named Sly being tricked into believing himself to be a lord and with his “wife” (the Lord’s servant wearing a dress) watches a play for his pleasure. That play within the play follows the relationship of Petruchio, a wealthy and forceful man from Verona, and Katherine, the “devilish Shrew”. Then, if you’re not already confused, you have the subplot of Bianca and her suitors; Gremio, Hortensio, and Lucentio, the latter being a student from Pisa, have all fallen for Kate’s seemingly sweet sister Bianca and the latter two decide to disguise themselves as teachers so that they might be able to woo her, whilst encouraging Petruchio to marry Kate so that they might then be able to marry Bianca. And that’s the basic plot for you! 

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A Recipe for Creativity

Despite the title of my small and silly video, I don’t think you can create a recipe for creativity. Or at least not a definite one. Everybody is different and so not everybody’s recipe will rise for every person. But something that never fails to work for me is an idea from Scott Adams:

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.

It always reminds me that making mistakes and being awful is a part of the process, you just have to keep on making!

Enough with all that now, I hope you enjoy my video, I wanted to make it just for a bit of fun – plus I got some nice tasting carrot cupcakes out of it so win-win!

Let me know what sort of things  you think help you with creativity in the comments.

Some Thoughts on Sex and Relationship Education

You may or may not know this but almost a month ago now Conservative MPs voted against plans to make SRE (sex and relationship education) compulsory in schools. In other words they voted against making teaching pupils about LGBT+ issues, the importance of consent, online sexual content, as well as the emotional and social aspects of sex and relationships compulsory. I know all schools tackle SRE differently; some cover a wide range of topics in an inclusive manner regarding religion and the LGBT+ spectrum. But at the same time some schools will only teach it from a biological point of view.

I myself experienced the latter. In year 6 all the girls in my year sat together in a small room with our head of year and the biology teacher; we discussed (and when I say discussed I mean they spoke, we listened and were too embarrassed to ask any questions) periods, body changes, and how we might start “seeing boys differently”. That was it until year 9, when we had one lesson in which we were shown a presentation showing symptoms of different STDs, shown how to put on a condom, then given condoms which were promptly taken off us. Honestly, I still don’t know why they bothered giving them out in the first place. In fact, there is a lot I still don’t know regarding SRE full stop!

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Getting Through the Mid-Winter

“It’s easy to fall into the mid-winter blues. Drink hot cocoa to warm your soul and stay in good spirits.” – Mary-Frances Winters

Midwinter is undoubtably the worst time of the year; it’s cold, foggy, and windy practically all of the time yet there’s no snow to play in and the Christmas lights were packed away long ago. Add to that returning to work, school and having mock exams and you really do get quite a horrid part of the season. So it’s no surprise that many people struggle at this time; it’s stressful and miserable. But there are some things we can all do to make it a bit better.

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New Years Resolutions

Before you say anything, I know this is fairly late in the month to start talking about New Years Resolutions but better late than never right?

I have always been someone who sets resolutions for the New Year, in fact I’ve published blog posts about my resolutions for 2015 and for 2016. I find that if I tell the internet I have to hold myself to them!  And I will be doing the same today and probably for years to come.

I briefly want to look back at my resolutions for 2016 and I think, on the whole, I did quite good:

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Five Fantastic Non-Fictions

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nɒnˈfɪkʃ(ə)n/

noun: nonfiction

noun

1. prose writing that is informative or factual rather than fictional.

 2 . the genre that is most like marmite; either you love it, you hate it, or you’re too scared to give it a real taste.

When it comes to non-fiction I was the one “too scared to give it a real taste” for such a long time; the only non-fiction you would see me paying any attention to would be my school text books. However (you all knew it was coming) about a year or so ago I decided I had to give it a try and it’s safe to say, when I find a non-fic book on a topic I really love, I will plough my way through it! So I wanted to share some of my favourite non-fiction books, as well as a couple that I am desperate to start reading!

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