We’re all aware of the phrase TLDNR (Too Long, Did Not Read) for posts on the Internet. This is a segment called TLDNW (Too Long, Did Not Watch). It’s for people that just don’t have time to go to the movies. Now, I work pretty hard every year to see the entire list of films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. You probably won’t get to all of them, because I assume you have a social life. Luckily for you, it is my goal in the following weeks to post reviews of the 2017 Oscar-nominated best pictures so that you can be caught up before the big night.
However, I know even reading a whole review is time-consuming and not for everyone. Many people just look at the star rating and don’t bother with the rest of the review. Even now you’re probably bored of this introduction.
So I’ll make it short and sweet. For every movie I review, I’ll include three sections: 1) A 1-word review, because frankly most people are lazy. 2) A 20-word review so you have things to say about the film when your friends ask if you saw it. 3) An in-depth 500-word review.
TLDNW: 1 Word
TLDNW: 20 Words
Quiet. Important. JANELLE MONAE. Mahershala Ali sits quietly and demands your attention. Too bad La La Land came out this year.
TLDNW: 500 Words
Four out of Four Stars
Bit of a disclaimer on this review, it is almost exactly cut and paste from a conversation I had with friends about why Moonlight is good and an important film so it may only make sense if you’ve seen the film and also is a bit of a mad ramble. However, I feel strongly and this mad rant is the best way for me to get that across.
*TAKES A BIG DEEP BREATH IN*
Okay, so here’s why Moonlight was so good and so important.
Let’s start from a technical standpoint. It was really simply directed in such a hidden and tender way. Unlike Fences that was in your face about the direction as if it was saying, “look how good these actors are!” Moonlight is so soft and subtle. The use of visual focus is incredible and there is a particularly strong scene in which our main character Chiron walks through his high school vindictively. It is so set apart from the rest of the film and as the camera quickly dollies backwards the tension builds in a way that is so jarring from the rest of the film that you can’t help but sit farther forward on your seat.
The directing also matches the mood of the acting. It’s so smartly directed. The sound mixing and editing is used as if it is visual editing. It is remarkable when a film can make me notice the excellent sound. It was so subtle and beautiful. There is a scene where Chiron enters a diner and the sound is so sharp and then suddenly quiet. The use of aural focus was unlike I’d ever heard. It absolutely says something that it was noticeable. It’s unfortunate it was not recognized in either sound category. (I DID NOT think the sound mixing in La La Land was great, but it received a sound-mixing nod).
From a social and political place, it’s also really important for a number of reasons. First, it portrays black characters in a deeply honest way. They are not pandered or used as PROPS for white people. They are humans. It was maybe the first time I’d seen that done. I mean even The Help has to have Emma Stone in it to make white people feel comfortable and the women in that movie are TAME AS HELL. Black people are almost always written as props for white movies or as stereotypes. Even movies made by Tyler Perry, which are often specifically for black audiences, are not treated with the same sort of respect by all audiences. It’s deeply important for a movie like this to be recognized by the academy because it shows how to write and direct diversity. It was a movie made by black folks for everyone. I LOVE La La Land, LOVE IT. It’s definitely my favourite movie of the year- but god damn is it ever white. It’s the whitest movie since The Artist.
Moonlight is also super important because unlike Brokeback Mountain which was a shock value gay movie (thus losing to Crash, remember Kirk Douglas said “I would never watch a gay movie!”)- or Milk (which I also love) which is again using the otherness of gay people as a political prop- Moonlight is about a gay black boy. Imagine being a gay black man living in an area where that isn’t acceptable? Imagine hearing the speech Mahershala Ali gives about what the word “fag” means. THAT’S WHY THIS MOVIE IS IMPORTANT.
Finally, the acting is incredible. Naomi Harris is a bit much and jumps from normal mom to crack head PRETTY fast- but there is a scene where Chiron realizes that the man he looks up to (a drug dealer player by Mahershala Ali) is causing the damage to his mother is unstoppable. Ali is great, JANELLE MONAE is amazing (she plays Theresa, a pseudo mother figure, and I’m very much in love with her) and the three actors who play the main character do such a good job of integrating those characters and playing them so real and true to the character.
*THROWS UP ALL OVER MYSELF*