Sunday, January 29, 2017

Under the Music: How a Young Thug Music Video Perfectly Defines the Art Movement of Today

The Wyclef Jean music video by Young Thug is a postmodernist masterpiece. I know that sounds really stupid when I'm talking about someone like Young Thug. And I know it sounds stupid that I'm analyzing a 2017 Rap video for any bearing on the art movement that defines today. Believe me, these are words I never thought I would say. But trust me, I think these are really important thoughts to have, and I TRULY believe that this video perfectly defines what postmodernism is in 2017. So I am going to break down the music video bit by bit and say something about why each part plays a crucial role in this thesis. 

Let me start by providing some context. In order to understand what postmodernism art is, you need to understand what modernism is. (I'm gonna cite Wikipedia cuz that shit's credible now okay?) The Wikipedia definition of modernism is: a philosophical movement that, along with cultural trends and changes, arose from wide-scale and far-reaching transformations in Western society during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Basically, because of the cynicism and Earth shattering emotions that the war brought, it encouraged people to think outside the box and start producing more experimental and unique forms of art and literature. Granted, they didn't know what the response would be. All of the work was genuine but experimental. When all this new art came out and it was well received by the public, people started thinking "hey, why don't we just ALWAYS break conventions?" This is where postmodernism comes in. The Wikipedia definition of postmodernism is: a late-20th-century style and concept in the arts, architecture, and criticism that represents a departure from modernism and has at its heart a general distrust of grand theories and ideologies as well as a problematical relationship with any notion of “art.” A lot of people like to describe postmodernism by simply doing air quotations. I like to describe it as a constant self-awareness. People are now able to take art, analyze and commentate on it, and then reproduce it as art as itself. Some even believe we've ascended into a new form of art, a post-postmodernism if you will. I won't call it anything else yet as it is early, however. A popular movement in all of art right now is to be Meta. 21 Jump Street is an easy example of this. The whole movie operates on a complete self-aware basis. And that was really fresh and new to audiences when they first saw it. It's all about riding the waves of the present art movements. 

So that brings us back to Thug. Alright time to break down the video. Go ahead and give it a watch for yourself.

You can probably already see where I'm going with this. But I'd like to break it down into eighteen different moments and talk about why each of them are important and brilliant. I know it may seem a little long and convoluted (I'm gonna use the words "self-aware" a lot), but bear with me, as I learned a lot about not only the video, but what makes us as a society gravitate towards videos and content like this in general.

1. The director of the video introduces himself, is talking to us ONLY through text cuts: Even though the director isn't lying or falsifying information by telling us who he is, he is establishing himself as a character inadvertently. By having his identity be true, we suspend any sort of disconnect between this being fiction and fact.

2. He's doing everything very "literally": Everything he's doing in the video is fairly literal for the most part. We see this by starting up the video and having him click the MP3 file of the song along with a .png text of the video title with that tile background. This adds the illusion that the video was sort of hastily thrown together with minimal content to work with, a bit of a passive aggressive tone to express frustration, and of course for that self-aware statement.

3. He visually follows the instructions Thug lays out in separate prerecorded audio:  This is just a great story telling technique that keeps the eyes and the mind very engaged. He's following Thug's stupid requests and as Thug "stream of consciousness-s" his idea for the video, this video we're watching matches it exactly. EXCEPT for Thug showing up. This is to show that the director is still a professional who does exactly what he's told because he was hired, and that helps highlight the fact that Thug was not there to do his job.

4. Young Thug didn't show, so they had to improvise: this is the fulcrum of this entire video. If Young Thug had shown up on time, this video that we're currently watching wouldn't exist. It was a beautiful mistake. I'll elaborate more on this at the end of the article. 

5. Director puts in footage Thug sent in much later with a smaller aspect ratio; roasts thug: Some more shade from the director, as the small aspect ratio with relation to the regular video shows disrespect and expresses frustration. The jokes are the cherry on top. It's reinforcing us to side with the director, but also puts us in a subtle position not to hate on Thug as much because the director is doing it for us.

6. Director then explains where the video falls apart: This is where the videos main concept begins to set in motion. This is the storyline we're meant to follow. How it's told though made a huge difference.

7. " Juxtaposition" in that amazing font: Another bit of self-aware, sarcastic humor, as the director is playing a recording of some more of Thug's requests for the video. Without words we can tell that the director is condescendingly mocking Thug for using a word which people use so often now a days to make their videos look and more artistic. Obviously this video did not call for any sort of Juxtaposition.

8. "It even feels like a real video": The director uses misdirection to help immerse us in the mindset that this went so wrong and everything was awry. But the thing is, this is a real video, and for all intensive purposes, this is what was supposed to happen based on the concept of the video. 

9. Director points out that bat props are fake: This is done to highlight more mistakes and issues that went along with the video. Not only does it tie up anything that would seem off or wrong about the video, but it further pushes the narrative that so much went wrong and was off about this entire shoot. This was very deliberate.

10. Director points out the magic of editing: This is a way for the director to point out a very underappreciated job. In this day and age of postmodernism, jobs in movies and music that are normally neglected and not talked about are beginning to become more revered and appreciated. In turn, people begin to develop new appreciation for the medium. 

11. Director points out cops and tells us to remember them because they'll be back: The director is in control of the story, and it's highlighted with him telling us what to do in respect to said story. By us fixating on the fact that the cops will be back, we start to wonder and make up our own scenarios in our head about what will happen. The end result is pretty insignificant, but having us remember the policeman is important.

12. Points out how he'd fix red bathing suit in post (production), does a half-assed job: Again, this is a way for the director to convey his frustration and passive aggression towards Thug without using a single word. An eye-for-an eye-type move on his end.

13. Talks about how Thug wants to keep it cleaner for impressionable kids, then perfectly points out explicit lyrics in real time:  This is just one of my favorite parts of the whole video. The timing on this had to be perfect and we as a viewer have no idea its coming because the song is playing the whole time in the background, but we're more focused on the story. In this moment he pulls us out of the narrative and back onto the song, but only to point it out in such a negative light. God I love this video.

14. "Perhaps commenters will guess what it was": The director is now directly addressing us, and challenging us to interact and engage with the video. This isn't the first time someone has done this but its a real clever way to generate engagement on a video without directly asking for it. It also gives us a role in the video, making it even more intimate.

15. Director explains the rest of the story: This one is similar to point number 6, but we have callbacks from the beginning of the video, including those cops he was telling us about. Everything about the story sort of ties up here, now it's time to wrap up the video.

16. "Moral of the story: none of this matters": Okay so nihilism as a state of mind is kind of coming back into pop culture in a very angsty-why-does-my-life-suck-teenage way. He's playing into a very popular and up in coming mindset of today. I also believe this mindset plays into today's postmodernism because being self-aware has an element of "none of this matters" to it anyways. But the funny thing is, this does matter, because we're watching it. It also matters because he made it, even though he didn't have to. He clearly wanted to, but is playing it off as such a burden. Trust me director guy, it definitely matters.

17. "But you're still watching and the song ended so I guess it worked": See I told you it matters. He got everyone watching to sit through a song, while doing everything in his power and using all the tools his medium provides him to detract from the song and Thug's overall image. Selective attention at its best, this video worked on every level.

18. Director comments on the post credit logos: This is to fully keep up the image of him commentating on everything and being so "self-aware." Consistency and continuity. That's what the whole video and postmodernism is really all about. 

Phew, okay that was a lot I know, but hopefully you can now see from my point of view on the whole thing. And maybe you've even gained some insight about our present day art movement and what type of content is really working with us now a days. It plays into the internet and all the readily available information, the culture behind it (memes and things), as well as its overall attitude and ambiance. I think this was a true story in the video, and if so, I would like to draw a comparison to one of my favorite all time movies Jaws.  That movie was supposed to have the shark prominently filmed from all angles and perspectives. But the animatronic shark kept malfunctioning and director Steven Spielberg had to call some last minute audibles to make his movie work. He thought the best way to work around the issue was to film from the sharks POV for the majority of the movie. This was the best thing that could have happened for the film because it added mountains of suspense and tension. That was a beautiful mistake. This video is no different. What was originally supposed to be Thug's vision fell apart at the hands of Thug himself. The director had to make lemonade with some bad lemons. And boy did he find the perfect solution. I can't praise this video enough. What's even more amazing is no one is calling for Thug's head or brandishing him as a huge asshole. It's sort of implied, but I think it endearingly adds to Young Thug's charm. Props to his team for allowing the video to be released in it's present state because I really think it helped a lot with his image. For a video to rip on the artist that hard with some very valid reasoning only to help his overall image is nothing short of a masterwork in my opinion. And like I said before, it perfectly plays into our culture of not only living on the internet, but the hip hop culture as well. The genre is blowing up and taking over a lot of different lifestyles. And I think this video bridges the gap for some who were hesitant to hop aboard that train. 

So thank you for taking the time to read this very in depth analysis on a Young Thug music video. I learned a lot about the culture of today writing this, and I can only hope the same for you. Please fix and flesh this part Future Nick I trust you can close it out bang bang skeet skeet.

(That was postmodernism joke, just making sure we're on the same page).

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Silence Review

Vocab Bank: 
Realista filmmaker whose style is characterized by the representation of people or things as they actually are
Formalist -  a filmmaker who is focused on the formal, or technical, elements of a film: i.e., the lighting, scoring, sound and set design, use of color, shot composition, and editing. 

Realist movies are probably my least favorite type of film. I'm not sure what it is about them, but I think they rely a little too much on the story and not enough on the medium that film provides them. In many cases, they're just straightforward documentations of characters going through an entire arc or linear storyline. It's why I think that biopics that have no formalist elements often times end up being bland and forgettable oscar bait (I'm looking at you Theory of Everything you loud piece of shit). It's also why I've said Martin Scorsese is a master of biopics. Every single one he's made has some formalist or artistic element that sets them apart from other films. Wolf of Wall Street made Wall Street colorful and interesting because of how fast-paced and disjointed the story was presented. Aviator changed its aesthetics as the film went on to highlight the passage of time whilst matching the filming styles of its respective time. Raging Bull, well, is Raging Bull. You get the point, Martin is really good at what he does. So when I found out that he was doing a film on Portuguese priests spreading their religion through feudal Japan, I was a little skeptical. When I found out it was going to be a predominantly realist film I got very, very skeptical. But I trust him and his ability to tell a good story. And in the end I can say, this is about as well as anyone can make a realist film. (note: there are formalist elements here such as narration and flashbacks, but are so few and spread out that it doesn't affect the overall style of the film).

Silence follows two Portuguese priests played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver who are tasked to set out to Japan to find their missing mentor who originally went there to convert Japanese peasants to Christianity. The priest, played by Liam Neeson, is now rumored to have apotheosized or denounced his own religion. From the moment they enter Japan, they find out it's a very brutal and unforgiving place where your religious preference could mean your life. So right off the bat, this is a very long and very arduous movie. The run time clocks in just under three hours, and it really feels like it. Initially, I found myself thinking that this movie really dragged towards the end and really should have wrapped up a lot sooner. But as I sat and thought about it, I think this was a very deliberate choice. We're supposed to suffer and struggle along with our main character. He's basically put on a trial that slowly breaks him down as a man and crushes everything he believes in. Any shots that hang for too long, or scenes that seem to be excessive are all purposeful to make us feel uncomfortable towards the situation. I kind of like that a lot, as there's no real other way to empathize with the characters other than to show their suffering as much as possible. The acting is pretty solid here, for the most part. Andrew Garfield is obviously the star here, but no one gave an extraordinary performance in my opinion. I think that had to do with the fact that the Portuguese priests were speaking in English, but everyone in the film was acknowledging it as Portuguese. Which I get it, it's a nice workaround to make it more realistic, but it is a little glaring that all other languages are spoken authentically.

One thing I really love here is actually the costume and set design. Everyone is wearing authentic period-accurate clothing, and none of it seemed like movie costumes. I really did feel like I was in ancient Japan because of how well it was shot, like this eerily spacious swamp island that is filled with people ready to kill at any moment. That sort of emersion is key when you as an audience member are asked to run this gauntlet with Andrew Garfield. There's also a deliberate restraint from music. This actually goes along with the theme and even the title of the film, Silence. Silence being what you hear when you pray to God when you're most desperate. What all these people are hearing right before they're killed by feudal lords. It's the ultimate test of faith. Do you think there's an omnipotent being listening? Does he think you're worth responding to? That's for you to decide, and that's the notion that's tested on these Christian priests. Camera work here is solid as well, but I have to say it's probably Scorses's least notable effort.

Something else I really loved was the portrayal of the Japanese people in the film. Those who wanted to be, or called themselves Christian were doing it for really interesting reasons. They were dedicating themselves to this religion because of what the white men were promising them this religion would offer. In that sense, it becomes less of a religion for them and more of a drug. They were searching for any sort of salvation, any validation to help them push through the difficulties they face in their everyday lives. They were loyal and determined, yes, but it was all in the pursuit of a salvation loosely promised to them. And the Japanese lords. They are touted to be these extremely dangerous and ruthless killers who will offer no mercy to those who chose to follow Christianity. And they are, but not really at the same time. They are brutal make no mistake about that. They kill senselessly and offer some of the most intense torture to their own people. But they only so inhumanely kill their own people to make an example out of them. When it comes to Andrew Garfield's character, all they want out of him is to renounce the religion. They knew that Japanese Christians would see him renounce it and follow by example. That's all they want, and they even tell him, "just apotheosize you don't have to really mean it." They don't want to hurt good people, they just have to do it to maintain their control. And as a result, they put him in a terrible position to break down everything he believes in.

So that's Silence, a movie that grows on me the longer I think about it. I'm not sure this is one I'll be watching many more times in the future, but I really appreciate it for what it is. This film is also riddled with details of motifs all throughout the story. Pay attention to the character of Kichichiro and what his motives represent about a disingenuous religious follower. Overall, I'm glad I saw this film and I think anyone interested in ancient Japan or religious persecution should definitely give this film a look lol. 8.5/10

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Under the Music: How Migos' Quavo Mastered the Ad-Lib

Rap music is at an all time cultural high. From the clothes we wear, to the icons we follow, to the songs on the top of the charts, all of it is owned by hip hop and rap these days. What started off as a small experiment in a Bronx party back in the 70s has evolved into a fully fleshed out way of living of its own. How the genre has grown from simple beats, to more creative flows, to a nice blend of high production and skillful lyricism (or "spitting") is such a fascinating evolution to observe. One of the more unique aspects of rap that has developed over the years is the "ad-lib. An ad-lib in rap is a word or sound uttered by the MC or producer that's sort of like a calling card. What's really unique about this is that it's uttered on the beat, so even though it's a jarring switch from the lyrics, it fits right in when it's heard (ex: Travis Scott's Straight Up!). From Rick Ross's belly grunt to Metro Boomin's iconic song identifier (He don't trust you), a lot of these ad-lib's have grown from fun identifiers, to full on brands. But there is one rapper in particular who I believe uses the ad-lib to it's fullest potential on any given song. See, Atlanta rapper Quavo, from the hip hop group Migos, has developed his ad-libs beyond being part of his brand. His ad-libs make up and are essential to his songs.

Now you might be thinking, well of course Quavo uses ad-libs, I hear them all the time. His aren't even the most iconic or most used by general hip-hop fans. That may be true on the exterior, but take a closer look to some of his music. If you listen closely, almost the entire song is filled with his voice, and any empty space he uses to breath or pause is supplemented by an ad-lib. I never noticed this until a friend of mine pointed it out, and it blew my mind. There was always something special about Quavo to me and I could never quite put my finger on it until now.

Now why is this important? Well first I'd like to link an awesome video by Vox on Kanye West and how his voice pushes the envelope on all of his music.

The key here is that the voice can be manipulated in ways to make it sound like the most unique and pleasing sounds that instruments couldn't normally produce. It adds texture, depth, and even a more personal connection with the song. Devil in a New Dress is my favorite example of this, the main "instrument" for the beat is a voice. Initially it's hard to pinpoint what exactly it is but there's just something about that beat that seems so different and piercing, and it what it really is is that voice (and that Mike Dean guitar solo hrnng). Now let's a look at typical "Atlanta Rap" song beat. 

As you can see (or hear), the beat is fairly bouncy and carries you throughout the songs, and the rap itself is sort of riding the beat like a surfer rides a wave. But you can also see how spacey and shallow the beat itself can be, and all the rapping can't cover that up. This is where Quavo's ad-libs come into play. Let's take a look at one of my favorite Quavo song's which actually isn't his, Oh My Dis Side by Travis Scott. Listen to the song first without too much in mind.

Okay so what did you hear? Well I'm sure you noticed a plethora of ad-libs sprinkled through out the song, just off of the fact that I'm telling you Quavo has mastered the ad-libs. But take a listen to the song a second time. And this time, actively seek out and count on your fingers how many times Quavo (bubblier voice) utters a sound or a word that isn't a verse. If you lost count don't worry, there are literally too many to keep on two pairs of hand let alone one. Quavo leaves absolutely zero space for voices in the song. Where Travis takes a breath on a verse and you expect to hear nothing, Quavo comes in and fills the void in the most satisfying way. It makes the song carry and flow more succinctly. And it adds energy and presence that wouldn't otherwise be there. This is profound too, because when the song switches up the beat half way, Quavo doesn't slow down and he also doesn't keep the same vibe. He matches and appropriates the exact feeling and sound that matches what Travis is rapping about. If he was doing it along the lines of the first half of the song, it wouldn't work. But Quavo analyzes the beat, and appropriately choses what to say and what not to say and when to say it all. Phenomenal! And finally when his full verse comes it at the end, the song really comes to a head. My favorite thing about this is weather he knows it or not, Quavo uses selective attention to disguise some of his "texture" ad-libs. There are the ad-libs that are a lot punchier and more memorable from the song, and it distracts you from the more subtle and understated ad libs that basically hide in plain sight. And that's why the song feels extra melodic and alive. How Quavo was able to basically hide his voice plainly is a song is nothing short of outstanding to me. What I want to highlight about all of this is that it takes a lot of developed music sense and theory to understand where to place these noises and how it should sound. Quavo really knows his stuff, and to write him off as an ATL mumble rapper who has nothing to say really isn't fair to the amount of attention to detail he gives to his music. A lot of rappers these days send their beats to artists they wanted featured on it, and the artist sends it back with their verse. In these cases, artists are never in the studio together for the same song. But here, you can tell Travis Scott and Quavo were in the studio the whole time together, and really spent a lot of time perfecting this song to be exactly what they wanted. It is my favorite Quavo feature ever, and to me best highlights his brilliance of pushing the envelope of the genre.

Now of you go into any Migos songs, you can see that they too are riddled with ad-libs. 
While I don't want to take away credit from the group as a whole, I believe Quavo is the one who stresses the importance of these ad-libs to the group for all their songs. It is his features that still carry them beyond the group. But this is the ad-lib used to its maximum potential. What was once seen as a silly one trick pony to some, has been taken, and realized as a genuine sonic tool. Quavo has really found something that can put him and his group ahead of the rest of the pack. Rap music as a whole is sort of at a spear head right now. So it will be interesting to see where this is all taken in 2017 and beyond. But the first place I'll be looking is the new Migos album which drops January 27th. Bad and Boujee is already number one in the world on the Billboard top 100, people are starting to recognize that there's something here. Rap can seem goofy and extra a lot of times, but all of it has been important on capturing and executing a vibe and emotion that all music is capable of at its purest form. It's understanding music theory a lot more, and it's understanding what we as an audience enjoy in a song. This ad-lib mastering is important, like the movie Jaws is important. What should have been a corny gimmick was taken and executed on the utmost professional level to become something that changes the game. And I'm so excited to see what music's follow up to the ad-lib is.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Moonlight Review

(please excuse changing fonts, this blog is glitchy) So turns out there's actually another pretty amazing movie out of 2016. Guess that's what I get for making impulsive blanket statements, but hey, social media!! Anyways, I had heard a lot of buzz behind this movie Moonlight right around the end of the summer, and how this was one of those for sure Best Picture nomination type films. I didn't know too much about it other than that it was a life anthology movie and that it had something to do with growing up in impoverish conditions. I also heard other little things like that it involved race and homosexuality, but I didn't read much more into it. I'm not sure why exactly it took me as long as it did to watch this film. Maybe it had to do with the year, or maybe I was just assuming it was an Oscar bait type film that would over compensate its message, but whatever it was I slept on this movie hard. And I really wish I hadn't.

Moonlight is the first full-length feature directed by newcomer Barry Jenkins and revolves around the life of the lost and confused Chiron, a boy who lives in very poor conditions with his crack addict single mother in an underdeveloped area of South Florida. The movie follows him throughout his life in 3 separate acts, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. That's about all I can really say without giving too much away. This is one of those "the less you know the better" kind of films. And that's not because it's so narrative driven, actually it's opposites. The narrative itself is pretty light, and sparse between the events. That may sound like a fault, but the direct storyline isn't the heavy hitter of the film here. It's all the subtext and the details myyyyy faaavvvorrriteeeeee :-}.  So the less of an idea you have of the story, the better I think you will have at forming your own thoughts and conclusions about this. I'll say the things I like about it that don't involve spoilers in the next paragraph, but other than that, expect spoilers throughout the rest of the review.

So the acting here is pretty flawless. I don't know if anyone really stands out as being better than their counterpart because everything here was just sort of executed perfectly. All actors who play Chiron during their respective ages do a fantastic part of making sure the mannerisms and essence of the character are carried on and honored with each new age. They then also bring something new to the table each time, as Chiron is growing up and still developing. Everything about him makes sense and the character is very consistent throughout the film. Small nuance, but I don't think it would have been as amazing without it. The supporting cast are no slouches either, as each character delivers an incredibly raw and genuine performance at any given time. Special shout out to Janelle Monae who is mainly known for her musical career; she really held her own with the rest of these stellar actors. Next, there's the lighting and camera work. I'll get into a little more detail as they involve spoilers but what I can say is they too are flawless. I don't think I've seen a cleaner shot movie in terms of it' lighting vs. camera work, it was unreal. I could tell an insane amount of effort went into framing each and every shot. None of it was filler. And finally, the pacing is pretty great too. No one section outlasts the other. I commended My Golden Days for having staggered pacing when it came to the different ages because I believed it actively represented how we remember periods of our life, but here, having the equal amount of time in each period better represented the theme of the movie, and I was actually glad they felt balanced. Alright, that's about all I can say without spoilers so go see this movie now if any of this sounds remotely interesting to you. I promise this will get a best picture nomination so if anything it'll knock it off your list!

[SPOILERS] Man okay where to start. I guess with the main overall theme. So this movie was all about identity. But it's not necessarily about like the unique quirks of an interesting person. It's more along the lines of identity in every sense of an identity (what?). This involves environmental identity, sexual identity, aesthetic identity, what-kind-of-person-you-want-to-be identity. This is such a powerful theme because I don't think it's been explored at the depth that this movie takes it. And in a world where you have the least amount of restrictions in human history with regards to how you want to identify yourself, I think this could not have come out at a more relevant time. It shows how you are shaped by the people around you, how your home plays into your social, how your heroes impact your life years and years later, and how one little moment can stay with you and possess you for far longer than it should have. These are all ideas discussed and tackled in the film. And the way it's shot and presented accentuates all of that as much as it possibly can. First of all the film is shot using a lot of centered close-ups on characters, especially Chiron. Not only is this a super intimate type of shot, but it also of exposes the character as a whole. That is who they are on the exterior; they can't hide it from who they interact with, or us as the audience. There are also a whole lot of shots that follow Chiron from behind, centered similarly, only we just see the back of his head. That to me said that we don't know who he is yet fully, and maybe he doesn't yet either. And that leaves us a bit dejected from him even though it's literally the exact opposite of the first shot I described. Beyond the characters, everything was framed so beautifully. This one gives La La Land a little run for its money, as all the good shots in that film are basically a minimum type of shot for Moonlight. Like everything is perfectly centered and symmetric.  It's so visually pleasing you can't take your eyes off it. 

Then there was the lighting. My god I don't even know. It could have been the lenses, it could have been masterfully set up lights, it could have been some post production. Whatever they did was 10/10. Lighting is so important and often overlooked in films. As I always bring up, good lighting, in for example something like a noir, is part of the story, it plays into the theme. Well similarly here the lighting goes straight into the theme. One of the characters at the beginning was telling Chiron that back when he lived in Cuba people there would call him Blue because when the moonlight shined off him it would make him look blue. When Chiron asked him if that's who he was he replied, "I was who ever I wanted to be" (I'm paraphrasing). Well wouldn't you now it there are a lot of blue things in this film. The color palate has a big emphasis on blue. There are props and blatant outfits that are blue. But the lighting. The lighting that is often on Chiron makes him look blue in the exact moments the film intends him to be. This to me means two things. One: the people he's interacting with see him as something he's not. He's either putting up a facade (more so when his clothes are actually blue), or people don't truly understand him or his situation. My best example of this is that all three sections of the movie are titled a name that was given to him by someone else. Two: the moments when he is blue are the moments he is most struggling with his identity. See, blue with respect to Chiron comes from the ocean in the film, and the ocean is seen as his safe space. All three sections in the film lead back to that ocean in some way. He wanted to emulate and project the feelings and emotions he felt there into his own identity. And to me that's super profound. It makes you think about your own identity and what makes you truly you. What things from your life do you carry and try and replicate from a day-to-day basis? How do you find your ocean, and how do you make that your identity? Throughout the film you find out that it kind of finds you one way or another. 

The last thing I wanted to talk about was what the film exceeded my expectations in. I stupidly thought this movie was going to get bogged down by over compensating its message on poverty and sexuality. Not that there's anything wrong with it or that I find a ton of issue with that, but to me, emersion in a film is the most important thing and when a movie goes too hard on it's message sometimes it can bring you out of it (I know, what a fucking complaint Nick). BUT this movie does what I wish every movie did. Say it with me: Show, Don't Tell. Never at any point in the movie did a character say “life's so hard here,” or the hood is so rough, or “we gotta get out of here.” We see it ourselves. We don't need the movie to tell us that life in impoverish areas are hard, we see how hard it is! And in a very organic and genuine way might I say. When it came to Chiron’s struggle with his sexuality, we could see him struggling it over his in thoughts. His actions help you understand his mindset a little bit better every time. But he never says, "I'm gay" or asks for help on exploring his thoughts (other than that half second question). He literally has to handle it on his own and it's like we're trapped in his mind with him. When he has his sexual moments, the camera holds long shots on him in action. It forces us to look and observe his actions. This helps break the ice and truly put us in the shoes of this person and in a possibly unfamiliar situation. I can't commend this film enough on those decisions, because without it I wouldn't have nearly praised this film as much nor written all of these words about it. [END SPOILERS]

So that’s Moonlight, a movie that I believe has truly met the appropriate critical reception it's received. I certainly am not the only one who feels this way about the movie. Films like these are really truly why I write these posts. They're exciting, satisfying, and inspiring. I didn't even get to talk about all the side characters and how they all play into Chiron’s theme and motif of the film. Perhaps you've already noticed them! Now, is this a better movie than La La Land? Hard to say, as they are two different films which both executed flawlessly their subject matter. I think I would have to say that Moonlight is a more technically (as in the techniques used) flawless film, but it's not my favorite over LLL due to a less "weighty" story. That shouldn't mean too much though as both these movies are arguably interchangeable with me. Go see this movie please, films like this need more than critical support. Do yourself a favor and don't wait until it's on TV in a year or two, go see it in theatres, it really deserves it. 9.5/10