Thursday, 23 February 2017

Film: 'Moonlight'

Once a year, or more rarely, comes a film which just blows me away - and this is one of them.
Being nominated for a mere four BAFTAs was measly recognition enough, but to come away from those awards completely empty-handed was little short of grotesque. I have to hold onto faith that this weekend's Oscars will be more forthcoming in recognising what an exceptional work this is.

A film in three sections, all set in Miami (from where director and screenplay writer Barry Jenkins himself hails), it chronicles the life in three stages of first, a schoolboy (then called 'Little'), then as a late-teenager (named 'Chiron') and finally as thirty-something 'Black'. 
Initially struggling against the verbal abuse of schoolkids because he's somehow 'different', his hiding from their taunts results in his being befriended by a drug-dealer with a heart of gold, or at least partly gold, (Maharshala Ali) who takes pity for the boy's isolation and loneliness, but whose presence is resented by the boy's drug-dependent, increasingly neglectful mother (Naomie Harris - in all three sections).
Then the story moves forward to the boy as a young man and his friendship with school-colleague Kevin (Jharrel Jerome), and his emotional self-realisation - with a particularly upsetting episode where Chiron is picked out to be a victim of assault.
Finally, the action moves ahead by some twenty years with 'Black' now looking in every way the part of a toughie drug-gang member, complete with gold teeth, pumped-up body and gun - and re-discovering former close friend Kevin (now played by Andre Holland).

If the first two parts contain the most physical 'action' it's the final section which has the dramatic and emotional weight. 
The acting of all the three players of the central character (successively Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevant Rhodes) is uniformly remarkable. Despite the character's foibles I was drawn into deep sympathy for him at all the stages - quite heartbreakingly, in fact.
Naomie Harris, as the mother who puts who her own wants ahead of her maternal duties, is no less brilliant.

I found the film well-nigh flawless. Perhaps the music choices were not quite of the best? Others might disagree. Anyway, none of them is over-long. Also, I wasn't quite sure if it was the cinema's own projection problem, but there were one or two moments when the visual focus seemed to be fuzzy. I'll give the film the benefit of the doubt and assume it was the cinema's own equipment. 
My only slightly nagging fear that the film's interest in the central character might have been flagging just a very little came in the final section, but if it did it was more than redeemed by the very brief concluding scene.

In summation, I thought this an extraordinary film. If I see a finer one in 2017 it will have been a truly exceptional year................8.5.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Done it - and now I'm a happy chappy!

Solution achieved! The problem was that my archive configuration was set on 'daily' when it should have been 'monthly' - as ridiculously simple as that! Now my blogs show as I want them to, which should also make it easier for my followers to refer back to previous film reviews - and I'm happy as Larry. Grateful thanks to Sadie, Bob, Mitch and Jon especially for offering their thoughts and suggestions. Having put the problem out there it gave me the extra incentive to find the answer.
Thanks again for everyone's time.

Can anyone help, please?

(This blog-post been superceded by success as reported in my subsequent posting).

Most other bloggers have managed this so why can't I?
I want my 'blog archive list' to the right of my postings to show the title of each blog entry - at least for the current month. For weeks I've been trying to achieve this by searching on google how to do it, but whenever I try the result is always :-

 Anyone who can assist will be in receipt of my undying gratitude in the form of an enormous bundle of positive vibes!  Thanks - to whomever!

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Film: '20th Century Women'

I'd been lured into thinking that this might be a film of real 'quality', and the further enticement of Annette Bening as its main star made it pretty well irresistible. 
Perhaps I didn't dig deep enough to reach the quality 'seam' because it struck me as being one of those lofty 'art-house' films which hoodwinks the audience into believing they are watching something truly exceptional, and those who do not appreciate it are too scared of saying so for fear of being categorised as intellectually wanting. Maybe I lack the necessary quality of aestheticism which one needs to understand its profundity? 
However, I don't mean to make it sound like an out-and-out dud. It's very far from being that.

Santa Barbara 1979. Divorced, chain-smoking, 55-year old Dorothea (Bening) is bringing up her 15 year old son, Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) in a sort of commune - though each with their own separate sleeping areas - with two other young women, a budding photographer (Greta Gerwig) who wants to capture her life in pictures by irritatingly aiming her camera at everything she sees, and a messed-up, promiscuous, younger know-it-all (Elle Fanning) who regularly sleeps with Jamie though they purposely don't engage in any sexual activity. There's also a lodger/general handyman and ex-hippie (Billy Crudup).
Dorothea has concerns for her son's development, not because he's living in such a predominantly female household but because she feels he's alienating himself in his interests, such as his liking of the then fashionable 'punk' which she's unable to grasp, making him appear an increasing riddle to her. 
The film covers only a short period, showing the various social activities of and interchanges between, mainly, the three women and the son. There's little progress or development in any of the characters during the film's two hours. At the end they're all very much at the same point as they were at the start. 

Annette Bening, despite spending much of her screen time without make-up and with hair dishevelled, is still a magnetic presence, easily dominating the rest of this ensemble cast. But what was it all for? I ask myself. There were only a couple of really dramatic events, but they soon passed without casting a shadow. It was all a bit inconsequential to my way of thinking.

Director Mike Mills is best known for having made 'Beginners' (2010) in which Christopher Plummer won an Oscar (as an aged father very belatedly coming out as gay). I thought this latest film of his nowhere near as interesting, though it's generally receiving reviews for which many other films must long. The reasons for this evade me.............5.5