If Beale Street Could Talk reviews

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 4252
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: If Beale Street Could Talk reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:20 am

I wasn't an extreme acolyte of Moonlight -- I found it a smaller, less emotionally overwhelming experience than many did -- but my second viewing of that film made me realize my initial response was more a reaction to the hype than a fair evaluation of the movie itself, which is certainly a beautifully filmed and sensitively rendered piece, deserving of praise and the work of a clear filmmaking talent.

For me, If Beale Street Could Talk confirms BOTH my feeling that Barry Jenkins is a noteworthy film artist, as well as my feeling that his work nonetheless keeps me slightly at a distance. I think part of this stems from the fact that Jenkins doesn't seem to be too interested in plot -- the nuts and bolts of the story were, for me, not where Moonlight truly shone (forgive the pun), and the exact beats of the plot in If Beale Street Could Talk are also a bit on the thin side. Which is to say, once you know the premise of the movie, there isn't a ton that surprises on a story level, and I generally find that the movies that affect me the most emotionally are the ones that make me feel like I've been taken on a real journey.

But to dwell on that too much would be to seriously underrate how captivating the film is as a visual and sensory experience. I co-sign everything Flipp wrote in his second paragraph -- the cinematography here is delicately gorgeous, accompanied by an achingly romantic score, beautiful costumes, and a tempo that balances languid long shots with startling cuts. Jenkins's focus on the faces and bodies of his characters -- and the way they interact physically and within their environments -- is evidence of a director with real visual gifts, who understands the way images reveal information about his characters that doesn't need to be explicated through words.

I've not read this work from Baldwin, so I have no idea if the structure is inherent to the source material or if it was Jenkins's invention, but the way the film builds its narrative is also quite impressive. As I said before, I don't think the plot (i.e. the specific events that occur) is necessarily the movie's strong suit, but the way the story events are all ordered makes for a tantalizing blend of past and present, fiction and reality, dream and memory. And I don't think it would be fair to say, well, if you put everything in order, it wouldn't be as interesting -- the fact that events are ordered THIS way brings out interesting layers in the material, as the film slowly lets the viewer in to understanding the full scope of these characters' lives, and how they got to their present moment. (In particular, kudos for pulling off out-of-order flashbacks so well, making the film feel less like a present-day story and a past-tense one, and more an interwoven blend of moments that all accumulate.)

I'm assuming the voice-over is taken from Baldwin directly -- I thought Jenkins did a good job of weaving this in in a manner that didn't seem to rely on it too much, while incorporating clear European and Asian art film influences into his visuals. The effect is to take a story written by and about black Americans and filter it through styles of world cinema that have rarely focused on subjects such as these, allowing for a thoroughly fresh look and feel to this story of 1970s Harlem.

Both leads are charismatic and carry the movie well -- perhaps more importantly, they both have great faces for Jenkins and his camera to dwell on. I'm assuming best-in-show honors, though, will go to Regina King, who is generally good throughout, and then gets to carry one late-film sequence that builds to a clear emotional showcase for her.

All in all, a strong piece of work, in a year that's shaping up to have quite a few of them.

User avatar
flipp525
Laureate
Posts: 5861
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2003 7:44 am

Re: If Beale Street Could Talk reviews

Postby flipp525 » Sun Oct 28, 2018 1:19 pm

I got to see If Beale Street Could Talk last night at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C. as the closing night event for the Smithsonian African-American Film Festival. Director Barry Jenkins and stars KiKi Layne, Stephan James, and the luminous Regina King were all in attendance which was exciting. It was in the very huge IMAX theater at the museum and it was really amazing to see on such a big screen.

Jenkins more than fulfills the promise of his surprise Best Picture Moonlight triumph. I think this is a very good film and is, at times, visually stunning. I love the way it was filmed. His ability to linger in moments and take advantage of non-verbal human contact is just as superb here as it was in something like the diner scene in Moonlight. The score is exquisite. The production values and the use of color are also note-worthy. It's a pretty narratively tight story, but Jenkins experiments with structure here in successful ways.

Layne and James have a very palpable chemistry and mostly sell the love story (it helps that they are both newcomers and you can almost wholly believe that they actually are these characters). However, I was most impressed by Brian Tyree Henry in a devastating cameo and Regina King who I would not be surprised to see becoming a strong supporting actress conteder for this. She turns in an excellent performance.
Last edited by flipp525 on Sat Nov 10, 2018 6:21 am, edited 2 times in total.
"The mantle of spinsterhood was definitely in her shoulders. She was twenty five and looked it."

-Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

User avatar
Precious Doll
Emeritus
Posts: 3609
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2003 2:20 am
Location: Sydney
Contact:

Re: If Beale Street Could Talk reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:47 pm

Very good 4 out of 5 stars The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/s ... ance-soars
“Those Koreans. They’re so suspicious, you know, ever since Hiroshima.” Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange) from American Horror Story: Season One

User avatar
Precious Doll
Emeritus
Posts: 3609
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2003 2:20 am
Location: Sydney
Contact:

Re: If Beale Street Could Talk reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:33 am

“Those Koreans. They’re so suspicious, you know, ever since Hiroshima.” Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange) from American Horror Story: Season One



Return to “2018”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests