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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

MOONLIGHT


So I finally saw ‘Moonlight’ last week, about 24 hours after it won the Academy Award for Best Picture in the most bizarre Oscar announcement of that category in history, and I was blown away by it. 

It has been on my list of films to see for months now, during which time I've continued to receive a steady stream of recommendations for it from friends and acquaintances, but I just never got around to seeing it until now for some reason.

I think I was subconsciously putting it off, maybe even dreading sitting through it a little, because I knew enough about the subject matter to know what films like that can do to my psyche, and I just wasn't ready to experience that yet. The movie presents three stages in the life of the main character, Chiron, and explores the difficulties that he faces with his own sexuality, and the physical abuse he receives because of it, and on a personal level, seeing young people suffer because of homophobia can be just too difficult for me to watch sometimes.

And in a broader context, I'm not really that drawn to films with a gay theme, in general, because I rarely find them to be realistic in their portrayals of what it really means to be gay. But I actually found 'Moonlight' to be surprisingly life-affirming and authentically relevant, and, as much as I loved 'La La Land', I'm glad that it won Best Picture.

It's a lyrically beautiful piece of work, and very well cast. Each of the three actors who play the main character at different ages...Alex R. Hibbert ("Little"), Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes ("Black")...delivers an extraordinary performance, as does Mahershala Ali, who won a well-deserved Best Actor award (I was personally rooting for Dev Patel for "Lion", but there were a lot of Oscar-worthy performances this year)...

There are a lot of places the makers of the film could have taken the story, but their restraint and economy on several levels make for a much better film. It's neither gratuitously violent, nor sexually explicit, and completely avoids portraying gay stereotypes (as in the assumption that all gay people are promiscuous).

It's regrettable that the producers of 'Moonlight' were denied the time to give their full acceptance speeches at the Oscars show because of the mix-up at the end, but no one can take away their win...that's permanent.
Kudos to 'La La Land' producer, Jordan Horowitz, for handling the mix-up in such a classy way.

Great film. Congratulations!