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Moonlight

Part of our Black History Month celebration

Moonlight

“Who is you, man?” Dramatic film has long been fascinated with issues of identity, but they’ve rarely been explored with the degree of eloquence and heartbreaking beauty as in Barry Jenkins’ masterful “Moonlight,” one of the essential American films of 2016. “Moonlight” is a film that is both lyrical and deeply grounded in its character work, a balancing act that’s breathtaking to behold. It is one of those rare pieces of filmmaking that stays completely focused on its characters while also feeling like it’s dealing with universal themes about identity, sexuality, family, and, most of all, masculinity. And yet it's never preachy or moralizing. It is a movie in which deep, complex themes are reflected through character first and foremost. Jenkins’ film is confident in every single aspect of the way that a critic can use that word. Every performance, every shot choice, every piece of music, every lived-in setting—it’s one of those rare movies that just doesn’t take a wrong step, and climaxes in a scene not of CGI or twists but of dialogue that is one of the best single scenes in years.

The protagonist of “Moonlight” reflects the conflicted and fluid masculinity of young African-American men in the United States, even in just the way he’s presented. The film is divided into three chapters—“Little,” “Chiron” and “Black”—the three names used to refer to the same person that we follow from childhood through adolescence to adulthood. He’s a boy and then a man who has trouble figuring out his place in the world, which is also articulated by the character being played by three separate, all-remarkable actors.

While there’s memorable dialogue in “Moonlight,” it’s what’s unsaid that really resonates. It’s the look of a morally complex father figure when a child asks him why other kids call him a bad word. It’s a nervous glance between two young men who know something is a little different about their relationship but society has given them no words to express it. And it’s in the final scenes of the film—in which Jenkins knows he’s laid the groundwork, trusts his actors and allows the emotions of what’s unsaid to provide the dramatic thrust—that “Moonlight” makes its greatest impact. Jenkins deeply understands that it is human connection that forms us, that changes our trajectory and makes us who we are.

— Brian Tallerico, rogerebert.com

Moonlight

Wed February 14, 7:30 PM, Muenzinger Auditorium

United States of America, 2016, in English, 111 min • official site

Screenplay: Barry Jenkins, Director: Barry Jenkins, Story: Tarell Alvin McCraney, Cast: Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome

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Parking

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Established 1941 by James Sandoe.

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Established 1955 by Carla Selby, Gladney Oakley, Bruce Conner and Stan Brakhage.

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(AKA The Rocky Mountain Film Center)
First offered degrees in filmmaking and critical studies in 1989 under the guidance of Virgil Grillo.

Celebrating Stan

Created by Suranjan Ganguly in 2003.

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Established 2017 by Chair Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz.

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