Moonlight (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
February 19, 2017 by Dennis Amith
“Moonlight” is a film that lingers within you, because it captivates you from beginning to end. From the exceptional storyline and the wonderful acting, Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” is deserving of every award it has been nominated for and has won. This film is perfect in many levels may it be in directing, story, cinematography, editing, this is rare. And typically those rare films are often called a “masterpiece”. Director Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” is no doubt a masterpiece! Highly recommended!
FILM RELEASE: 2016
DURATION: 111 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:39:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
RATED: R (Some Sexuality, Drug Use, Brief Violence and Language Throughout)
RELEASE DATE: February 28, 2017
Directed by Barry Jenkins
Screenplay by Barry Jenkins
Story by Tarell Alvin McCraney
Produced by Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adele Romanski
Co-Producer: Andrew Hevia, Veronica Nickel
Executive Producer: Tarell Alvin McCraney, Brad Pitt
Associate Producer: John Montague
Music by Nicholas Britell
Cinematography by James Laxton
Edited by Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders
Casting by Yesi Ramirez
Production Design by Hannah Beachler
Set Decoration by Regina McLarney
Costume Design by Caroline Eselin
Ashton Sanders as Chiron
Trevante Rhodes as Black
Alex R. Hibbert as Little
Mahershala Ali as Juan
Shariff Earp as Terrence
Duan Sanderson as Azu
Janelle Monae as Teresa
Naomie Harris as Paula
Jaden Piner as Kevin (9)
Patrick Decile as Terrel
Jharrel Jerome as Kevin (16)
Andre Holland as Kevin
Stephon Bron as Travis
A timeless story of human connection and self-discovery, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami. Anchored by extraordinary performances from a tremendous ensemble cast, Moonlight is profoundly moving portrayal of the moments, people, and unknowable forces that shape our lives and make us who we are.
From filmmaker Barry Jenkins (“Medicine for Melancholy”, “My Josephine”) comes his award winning film “Moonlight”.
Nominated for eight Academy Awards and the Golden Globe winner of “Best Motion Picture”, “Moonlight” is based on the play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” written by Tarell Alvin McCraney.
The film stars Mahershala Ali (“Luke Cage”, “House of Cards”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), Janelle Monae (“The Equalizer”, “Friends with Benefits”), Naomie Harris (“Skyfall”, “28 Days Later”, “Spectre”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”), Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders (“The Retrieval”), Trevante Rhodes (“Westworld”, “If Loving You is Wrong”), Andre Holland (“42”, “Selma”), Jharrel Jerome and many more.
And now the critically acclaimed “Moonlight” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD.
“Moonlight” revolves around the life of Chiron and is told in three parts. The first part titled “Little” as a child, the second part titled
“Chiron” as a teenager and the third part titled “Black” as an adult.
Without spoiling too much of the film, the first part begins with introducing us to a young Chiron (portrayed by Alex Hibbert) who lives in a drug infested area of Miami.
Chiron is shy and because he is short (and often called “Little”), he is often targeted by bullies. Unfortunately for Chiron, because he is often emotionally abused by his druggie mother Paula (portrayed by Naomie Harris), he doesn’t like going back home.
While Chiron is hiding from his bullies, a crack dealer named Juan (portrayed by Mahershala Ali) feels bad for Chiron and takes him to his girlfriend, Teresa’s (portrayed by Janelle Monae) home.
And Juan becomes like a father figure to Chiron. Chiron is naive about how Juan makes a living and his connection to his mother.
Meanwhile, he befriends a kid named Kevin (portrayed by Jaden Piner) who befriends Chiron and even teaches him how to defend himself.
And as the film progresses, how will life be for the shy and withdrawn Chiron as he gets older, goes to high school and later in adulthood? Will he still be the target of bullies? And from the abuse that he endures throughout his life, how will this abuse affect Chiron?
And throughout his life, Chiron tries to learn about his identity in the midst of confusion.
“Moonlight” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). The film features great detail on closeups but what is striking is the backdrops of Miami. The cinematography by James Laxton (“Camp X-Ray”, “Yoga Hosers”, “Tusk”) was absolutely wonderful! And the editing by Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders in coordination with the music by Nicholas Britell was well-done!
The film looks absolutely wonderful in HD!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Moonlight” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The film is primarily dialogue and music driven. Dialogue is crystal clear and Nicholas Britell’s (“12 Years a Slave”, “Whiplash”, “The Big Short”) music is an integral part of the film and sounds beautiful. Surround channels are reserved for ambiance but for the most part, this is a dialogue and music-driven soundtrack.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.
“Moonlight” comes with the following special features:
- Ensemble of Emotion: Making Moonlight – (21:36) The cast and crew discuss the story and the casting for “Moonlight”.
- Poetry Through Collaboration: The Music of Moonlight – (10:06) Composer Nicholas Britell discusses the music featured throughout the film.
- Cruel Beauty: Filming in Miami – (5:38) A featurette about filming in Miami.
“Moonlight” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.
I am a firm believer in movie magic and as a cineaste, you always want to experience a film that is unique, magical but also thought-provoking and stays in your head for hours, days and if it’s that good, it will be a memory that stays within you for a lifetime.
“Moonlight” is an adaptation of a semi-autobiographical play “Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by Tarell Alvin McCraney. A play written by McCraney to cope with the death of his mother who died of AIDS. As McCraney shelved the project for over a decade, filmmaker Barry Jenkins was introduced to the work of McCraney through the Borscht arts collective in Miami and it would lead the two to collaborate on a live film adaptation and splitting the story into three chapters.
But most importantly, making sure that the film remains true to McCraney’s personal story of growing up as a homosexual, during a time when being gay was not accepted and people kept their sexual preference as private or people were confused about their identity, that they didn’t know why they were experiencing the same emotions towards the same sex.
And for McClaney and Jenkins, the two came up with a screenplay that both share similar experiences. Both McCraney and Jenkins had mothers who struggled with drug addiction, both grew up in Liberty Square in Miami and more.
And it’s this collaboration that would prove to be magical because it’s one thing for McCraney to write a story semi-autobiographical play about his life, but for it to be envisioned into a film and having a cinematographer, editor and composer who would utilize their skills to the upmost efficacy, would work wonderfully.
Each actor portraying Chiron in difference ages of his life, performed their roles based on emotion and movement through eyes not just the words. You feel the anguish, the sadness and the hurt that each of these characters are experiencing.
And the casting was magnificent, but it’s also important to note that filmmaker Barry Jenkins kept the three versions of Chiron from ever meeting and to have a story that plays out in different times of Chiron’s life, watching the film almost felt as you were watching the same character age throughout his life, when in fact, you are watching three actors who were able to make the audience to feel Chiron’s pain, as a child, as a teenager and as an adult.
And without spoiling the film, I’ll just keep it at that.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture and lossless audio are well-done and you get a few special features included as well.
Overall, “Moonlight” is a film that lingers within you, because it captivates you from beginning to end. From the exceptional storyline and the wonderful acting, Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” is deserving of every award it has been nominated for and has won. This film is perfect in many levels may it be in directing, story, cinematography, editing, this is rare. And typically those rare films are often called a “masterpiece”.
Director Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” is no doubt a masterpiece! Highly recommended!
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