Saturday, February 17, 2018
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Movie Planner: FSU grad Barry Jenkins, actor Andre Holland talk 'Moonlight'

SPOTLIGHT: MOONLIGHT

Three years ago, filmmaker Barry Jenkins sat on a Telluride Film Festival stage, conducting a Q&A with the cast of 12 Years a Slave. For years Jenkins volunteered at the festival, a launching pad for several recent best picture Oscar winners, including that film.

Three months ago, Jenkins was back, this time answering questions with cast members of his own awards contender. The FSU film school graduate's second feature Moonlight has earned rapturous attention since its Telluride world premiere.

Moonlight is the coming-of-self story of Chiron, set in Miami's Liberty City district, where Jenkins and screenwriter Tarell McCraney grew up.

"We lived blocks from each other, went to the same school (but) didn't know each other," said Jenkins, 37. "His story dovetailed with mine, so I immediately saw an opportunity to work with empathy … get to a place where I could really, fully represent what it means to be a young, gay black male growing up in Miami."

Chiron's story is told in three chapters and represented by different actors at each stage of intimate development. One personal constant in his life is Kevin, a classmate played in the third chapter by Andre Holland, who said the film challenges codes of black masculinity.

"Black people, black men are so multi-faceted, so multi-dimensional," Holland said. "It felt like a real honor to show a different side of who we are … that vulnerability that we often as men don't feel license to share with each other."

Jenkins founds creative parallels with his 2008 debut, the African-American assimilation romance Medicine for Melancholy.

"Right away I thought this is going to be a super visual film, it can be really sad and really romantic," he said. "If you know my work, you know those are all Barry Jenkins fastballs. I was like, yeah, I've got to do this."

The Sunscreen Film Festival announced Monday that Holland will appear Thursday at Muvico Sundial 19 in St. Petersburg. The screening is at 7:30 p.m. followed by a Q&A session with Holland. Admission is free but seating is limited, and online RSVPs are required. sunscreenfilmfestival.com.

Read a review of Moonlight (Grade A) at tampabay.com/movies.

ALSO OPENING: MOVIES GALORE

One weekend may not be enough to squeeze in every promising new release. Moonlight, Loving (review, Page 13) and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (review, Page 12) are joined by three movies with awards season potential.

Two-time Oscar winner Ang Lee directs Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, above, based on Ben Fountain's novel. Newcomer Joe Alwyn plays an Iraq War veteran with PTSD, being honored at an NFL Thanksgiving Day charade. Steve Martin, Vin Diesel and Kristen Stewart co-star.

Lecanto High School graduate Miles Teller stars in Bleed for This (R), a biopic of boxer Vinny Pazienza, who overcame a broken neck to win three world titles in as many weight classes. Teller got into fighting shape as expected and flexes maturing chops as an actor. Aaron Eckhart co-stars as Vinny's trainer Kevin Rooney.

One newcomer wasn't screened in time for review. The Edge of Seventeen stars Hailee Steinfeld as a high school junior whose brother is dating her best friend, leaving her lonelier than ever. Woody Harrelson co-stars as her teacher reluctantly listening to her problems.

Read reviews at tampabay.com/movies.

In theaters: our Top 5

Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:

1 Moonlight: Barry Jenkins' Miami story, one of 2016's finest films.

2 Arrival: Unique science fiction movie, with Amy Adams in top form.

3 Loving: True story of a 1967 court case over interracial marriage.

4 Bleed for This: Miles Teller moves up a weight class in solid boxing pic.

5 Hacksaw Ridge: Mel Gibson's jarring tale of a pacifist WWII hero.

UPCOMING RELEASES

(Dates subject to change)

Nov. 23: Nocturnal Animals; Moana; Bad Santa 2; Allied; Rules Don't Apply

Dec. 2: Manchester by the Sea

Dec. 9: Miss Sloane; Office Christmas Party

Dec. 16: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Dec. 21: Passengers; Lion; Assassin's Creed

in theaters: our Top 5

Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:

 
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