Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Not What I Was Expecting

It's the time of year where Oscar buzz starts to be heard and this film is getting a lot of it.   Realistically, it didn't look like the type of movie I would enjoy but the platitudes were loud and frequent.   And I remembered how much I did enjoy "Straight Outta Compton."   So why not?

While I'm not sure "Moonlight" deserves all the raves it's been getting, I'm here to tell you that it is quite a good film.   And certainly not the movie I was expecting, especially when the very first thing you hear is the soundtrack and some song that proclaims, "N*gg*r, you can be a star!"  I started to squirm.   Is this going to be some drama acted out on an urban and gang-infested street?

Um, yes and no.  Again, surprises were in store for yours truly.

We start in Miami of the 1980s and we meet a shy, nine-year-old Chiron.   Daddy's long gone and his mom's a druggie.   Oddly, he's taken under the wing of his mom's dealer, who actually serves as a responsible Big Brother to Chiron.  And, then suddenly...

it's about seven years later and Chiron, still quiet and introverted but a big more responsible, is trying to fit in at school.   Remarkably, the actor now playing the character looks very similar to an older version of the 9-year-old actor.   Kudos to the casting department.

Chiron is also grappling with his sexuality...yeah, I didn't see that coming either.  His buddy Kevin is attracted to him and they share a moment under the...here comes the title...moonlight on a beach.  But, things happen at school as some gangs get involved.   And then, suddenly...

there's another clever morphing of character and actor as we meet present-day Chiron right out of prison.  And...I am surprised again...he is approached by present-day Kevin also out of prison but already re-established in the community.   And then we have the beginnings of a romance.

"Moonlight" ends before their future starts, but the trip to that point is quite refreshing and...again...nothing like what I was expecting.   Occasionally, the writing and direction by film maker Barry Jenkins falls into the cliche category. But, overall, it is a story that is captivating and well worth your attention.   

Is it Oscar material?  I don't really think so, but, given the Academy's diversity push, I'm sure "Moonlight" will get slotted some place.   And I suppose there are worse pictures to get that attention.

LEN'S RATING:  Three stars.

Dinner last night:  Hamburger and salad.

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