Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight is a mesmerising, emotional, philosophical and one of a kind, a meditation on growing up that manages to touch the deep and complex things that shape us and be completely recognisable. He is Little, Chiron and finally Black, abrupt identifiers reflecting who he is at different stages. Little grows up dirt poor on the edges of Miami. He’s alone. His mother (played by Naomie Harris, the new Moneypenny) is a violent drug addict whose total neglect can’t defeat him, He is lonely, bullied and abandoned until he becomes friends with a local drug addict and his girlfriend. They become his caring surrogate parents teaching him values and coping skills and feeding him. The dealer teaches him to float in the ocean in a killer scene that looks like a baptism into love. Skip ahead a few years and Chiron is academic, focused on college, and doing all the right things to avoid becoming what his mother is. He has a homosexual affair with a local boy that raises shame and frustration but makes him feel less lonely. There is little evidence of the dealer, and his mother has worsened. He takes comfort in nature’s beauty which Jenkins heightens with a pastoral, classical vibe that is unexpected and gloriously counter-intuitive. Finally as Black, he is grown; we see what has become of him. Moonlight is absolutely unique and profound yet accessible and a masterpieces.
Check my interviews with writer director Barry Jenkins and Trevante Rhodes (Black) with Andre Holland on WhatSheSaid YouTube Channel
Tom Hanks has the fate of the world in his hands in Inferno, the latest Robert Langdon adventure/ spiritual / archaeological mystery based on Dan Brown’s bestselling books. Langdon wakes up in hospital with amnesia and has no clue why he’s in Florence. A doctor (Felicity Jones) treats him and then lets him now she knows why he’s in the city. Across town the world’s most influential young digi-entrepreneur (a Mark Zuckerman type) throws himself off a tower to his death refusing to tell an assailant where “it” is. Langdon hears about the suicide and everything comes flooding back. He’s in Italy studying relics and untangling their secrets as to their relevance now. There is a plot afoot by the late digi whiz and a group of activists to unleash a deadly toxin and kill half of humanity in order to ensure a better life for those left behind. They believe the world is heading to overcrowding so severe that it will implode. Langdon and the doctor race against time and across an eye-popping landscape – Florence, Venice, Budapest and Istanbul – to find the virus and destroy it. Langdon believes the relics he’s studying will tell him how. I so wanted to love this terrific sounding mystery thriller set in the world of antiquities and history and language but did not. Even our beloved Hanx couldn’t tighten the tale, so the plot fell flat. The final chapter seemed stitched together and didn’t match the setup; it was too big and too late.
The Handmaiden is an erotic history and period piece based on Sarah Waters’ 2002 novel Fingersmith. It takes place in a Victorian mansion in Japanese occupied Korea in the thirties so economic, political and war tensions are in the air. A young country girl is hired as personal maid to an heiress. She fends off amorous advances from the staff and claims her innocence, but in truth she is working with a gang of thieves to steal her lady’s fortune. It’s going ahead as planned but suddenly, an obstacle! They fall in love, and I mean the deep, passionate reckless kind based on sexual attraction. They sneak around the mansion having sex when the heiress’ controlling fiancé isn’t around but they also enjoy taking chances with their creative, acrobatic lovemaking. The mistress stages live sex shows for her man and his wealthy friends who don’t touch her but watch intently. The handmaiden tends toward jealousy but finds solace in a visually heightened natural world. Both have revealing dreams. The look of the film is astounding from Victoriana to marvellous landscapes, costuming and art direction fusing modern Western and Japanese design. The Handmaiden is a highly erotic, cinematic masterpiece and an ode to contortionists everywhere. It’s in Korean and Japanese with English subtitles.
On one night only, November 3rd, Cineplex theatres present Rush / Time Stand Still a superior documentary on one of the only rock bands in the world to have worked together nonstop and consistently for four decades. They are bound together in friendship, work and history, having met in high school where they first performed right up until now, in their “retirement”. We go behind the scenes with Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart during R40, the fortieth anniversary tour last year. Super fan Paul Rudd narrates this strangely moving film about the band, the fans, the music and their world. When we say Rush fans, we mean, Rush fans, these people are fiercely dedicated, seeing all their performances, collecting every morsel of memorabilia and changing their lives for Rush. It’s impressive how much they love the band. It was a huge blow when the band announced it would no longer be touring. Learn why, how and what it felt like that final night onstage in Los Angeles. Rush music devotee or not, this film is highly entertaining and touching. You’ll understand what all the fuss is about.
Film Retrospective at TIFF:
On now at TIFF Bell Lightbox Imitations of Life: The Films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder.The late New German Cinema filmmaker created an unusual body of work, featuring themes like post WWII, torch singers, and decadent and obsessed with Nazis and the aftermath of WWII. Fassbinder’s films are an acquired taste but the rewards are plenty. From a farmhouse lit bright pink from within to complex webs of intrigue and sexual openness a la Fassbinder, the films are often difficult at first and then the enchantment sets in. Here is short starter course:
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
The Marriage of Maria Braun
Fox and His Friends
The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant
The Merchant of Four Seasons
BFCA BTJA AWFJ TFCA FIPRESCI