Loving (2016)

Impression: Solid, well acted, and well shot movie that keeps your interest, told in a straight-forward manner. The problem with this kind of movie is that you know how it will end. Maybe some events on the way to the inevitable will be unexpected, but there is not much that can happen that will surprise you. That’s not to say that it’s not important that a movie which paints a picture of that time and place and the popular sentiment of the time be told. It is, it’s just difficult to make it into a great instead of just a very good movie.  One fact that blew my mind was realizing that inter-racial marriage was still an issue so recently, and one court intervention just 10 years before I was born.
Facts:  Based on a true story of an inter-racial marriage between Richard and Mildred Loving that challenged late 1950’s miscegenation laws by bringing their case to the US Supreme Court.

Moonlight (2016)

Impression: It’s not just the story which is heartbreaking and poignant and timely.  The director is a true cinema geek, every little detail from the music to the amount of sweat on actors’ faces has been carefully thought out.  He said his favorite director is Claire Denis, and it shows. This film is a film buff’s dream come true (the cinematography, the music, the acting, the casting, everything). It’s as close to a perfect film as I’ve seen, and as close to a European film I’ve seen from an American filmmaker.
Facts: A coming of age story centers on Chrion, a quiet, poor, black kid growing up in a tough neighborhood in Miami, and follows him through to adulthood in a sequence of heartbreaking vignettes.
Extra: I saw this film at the Toronto International Film Festival. I started crying about 1/2 way into the movie and kept at it until after the Q&A ended. The audience stood up and clapped and kept clapping until Barry Jenkins asked them to stop. He took a bunch of questions, all of which he answered with a lot of depth and thought. Finally, a man raised his hand for the last question. Before he answered, Barry Jenkins said “Is that Jonathan Demme?” It was! He said “You, know if you didn’t tell us to stop clapping, we’d still be clapping.”