Barry Jenkins follows Moonlight – the sumptuously cinematic coming of age Oscar winner that famously wasn’t La La Land two years ago – with a love story almost equally perfect. Based on the eponymous novel by pioneering novelist James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk boasts gorgeous writing and Jenkins’ now familiar eye for visual lyricism. Frustration and anger weave through his painfully empathetic narrative, which is itself told with a wonderfully fluid approach to time. The casting, meanwhile, is impeccable, with Jenkins once again proving himself to be a raconteur of talent and kingmaker.
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Moonlight is a bold move by Medicine for Melancholy director, Barry Jenkins. Adopting an unrealised, semi-autobiographical, 2003 drama project by Tarell Alvin McCraney – In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue – as his inspiration, Jenkins’ film is a rejection of the hard line, socio-realist aesthetic, synonymous with depictions usually granted to similarly located films. Bringing to the production his own experiences as a child in Miami, Moonlight sees its director take the sun-kissed cinematography of Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund’s City of God, and infuse the picture with a beautifully Rococo, pastel palette. The effect jars perfectly. Grit and grime are painted in pinks, blues and greens which serve to express the visceral tension underlying this society within ‘the sunshine state’. The title is apt; what setting could better connote the fine line of romance and danger than one against moonlight?
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