I just got in from a fun day in town.
I did a double whammy. Two movies at the cinema in one day. This is the second time I’ve done this. The first time I saw Life of Pi at The Electric Cinema and Side Effects at the Odeon on New Street. I recommend both films. Add them to your queue.
Today was all about team #RepresentationMatters. To say I was gassed about seeing Moonlight and Hidden Figures at my local indie cinema is an understatement. There’s been huge Oscar buzz about both films.
Moonlight is written and directed by Barry Jenkins. It’s a dramatic and emotional coming of age story about a black man coming to terms with his sexuality.
Everyone has been praising Mahershala Ali’s performance (well deserved) but the stand out performance for me was Naomie Harris. I really believed in her character. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who goes to see it but she is marvellous in this film. She switches from a woman who appears to have it all together to a broken train wreck who you struggle to sympathise with in such a short space of time.
It made me think of those people who you judge based on their job or uniform and yet you have no idea what they struggle with once they’re seemingly safe at home. The same goes for children. While I didn’t relish the dramatisation of the absent black father (a stereotype I don’t identify with and find disproportionately over-represented in cinema and the media in general) Moonlight’s truth did affect me. The themes it deals with: sexuality, poverty, bullying, substance abuse, violence, race, adolescence, gender and family all conjured up an emotional response from me. It reminded me how much I hated school, the pressure to fit in and play a role, conforming to how the world saw you.
I enjoyed Moonlight’s soundtrack; it’s used well in the film. I especially loved the dream-like scenes which were executed with great skill. In the screen room you could hear a pin drop. It was deathly quiet. The audience were well-behaved, no doubt captivated by what played out on screen.
I think Moonlight is a brave and stunning film. Jenkins has taken themes that are taboo and upsetting and he’s made them relateable by having us experience them through a young man as he grows up. The final scene suggested the importance of having love in our lives. When someone accepts you for who you are, that experience will stay with you, no matter how much time passes by. You don’t need to be black, male or come from a broken home to find something to connect with in Moonlight.
Hidden Figures is based on the true story of the three black women, Katherine G Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson who worked in NASA as mathematicians. They played a pivotal role in the US space program. Doesn’t sound that exciting, does it? Add the fact that this all took place while black and white people were still segregated (separate schools, rest rooms, sitting at the back of the bus) where women didn’t have nearly the same rights as we do now and it’s a thrilling ride watching Henson, Monae and Spencer bring it to life.
There’s great humour in Hidden Figures. I welcomed this a lot, as the film deals with racial discrimination and sexism which at times was hard to stomach and had me shaking my head. The irony wasn’t lost on me that now, black and white people were able to watch this film, in the same room. That people literally had to fight for their civil liberties in order for us to be able to go to school together and drink from the same water fountain.
I really enjoyed Hidden Figures. It was encouraging to learn about these black women who were incredibly smart, determined and tenacious. They fought against racism and sexism and achieved what seemed impossible. One of my favourite quotes from the film that made me chuckle: ” I am equal rights. I have the right to see fine in every colour”.
Spencer’s character totally owns Dunst’s character in a scene where she claims to have nothing against the black women working in the computing department. That exchange got a big laugh in the cinema. You’ll know it when you see it 😉
I adored seeing black women portrayed as something other than the typical maid, slave, single mother, prostitute and drug addict role. We need more films like these. I really hope Moonlight and especially Hidden Figures win big at the Oscars.
Have you seen Moonlight or Hidden Figures? What did you think?
Love black pistachio x