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reynolds and gyllenhaal. [a month of happy.]

I feel like this is cheating a little bit, since I already included the Pratt/Lawrence press relationship. But this is just something that made me happy this month. When is the comedy starring Pratt/Lawrence/Reynolds/Gyllenhaal coming out?

The people who do these interviews are often intolerable, and Reynolds and Gyllenhaal were amazing in their tireless ability to subvert the inanity of the press junket life with their own absurdity.

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moonlight. [a month of happy.]

“Who is you, Chiron?”

I would imagine that this may seem a strange inclusion in the month of happy. This film isn’t exactly light fare.

But after watching Moonlight for the second time, the best word to describe the mix of feelings it leaves me with is joy, followed quickly by hope.

For one, its beauty is inspiring. There is no aspect of this film that isn’t beautiful. The screenplay is beautiful, the score is beautiful, the camera work is beautiful, the themes are beautiful, the characters are beautiful. Every actor in the film manages to imbue each character with an amazing humanity and depth, which is especially impressive in light of the fact that only one cast member appears in all three parts of the film.

Moonlight is remarkable and joyful in many ways, it certainly deserves more than this stream-of-consciousness blog response. But, all the same, I wanted to share something that struck me on my second viewing.

This film– in addition to all the huge things it portrays in terms of race, sexuality, and identity — quietly illustrates the immense significance of kindness and hospitality.

The most poignantly hopeful scenes in Moonlight all take place when characters are creating space for each other in small and extraordinary ways.

**Spoilers and whatnot**

As these characters provide a meal, offer a ride, light a cigarette, share a table, make a bed, create a nickname, make a cup of tea, teach a child to swim — as they offer the gifts of touch, warmth, and home, they save a life and create room for a man as he continues the struggle to find himself and feel at home in his own body.

Take the scenes in the film set at tables. These alone are enough to illustrate my point.

With a glaring exception in the center of the film — in the cafeteria when Kevin is goaded into assaulting Chiron — every other scene in which characters share a table with each other is a scene when characters are fighting for Chiron, making room for him in the world.

In a perfect film, which I’d argue this one is, we’re rewarded for paying attention. Director Barry Jenkins doesn’t waste a single gesture or camera movement, every frame plays to the larger story.

Chiron is an easy character to love, but his world is forcefully telling him the opposite.

Again and again, we see characters share various tables with Chiron. They serve him food, juice, water, and wine. They talk and listen, they attempt to coax him out of hiding and toward himself. There’s more to unpack there, but I’m not entirely sure how to do it without a video essay. In part because so much is expressed in the performances.

This film is obviously about much more than this idea of the importance of creating space for people. It would take dozens of blog posts and essays to even scratch the surface. Yet, while every scene is about much more than this, they are certainly not about less.

Moonlight makes me happy. In part, because it helps me believe that there is some hope for us, if perhaps only in the small moments and kindnesses we share with those around us.

I’d love to continue fleshing out more thoughts about this movie in conversation if anyone is interested, but as I’ve learned talking to Emily about it earlier today, I can’t promise not to cry in the process.

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taika waititi. [a month of happy.]

When I watch a Taika Waititi film, I feel happy. As a person with clinical depression, that’s basically like saying that I found a huge gold stash hidden in my basement.

I’ve already written about him twice since October, so imma be lazy and repost all that. Still true.

Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement have a comedic voice that is unendingly amusing to me.

All of Waititi’s writing has this rare combination, where it’s so sharp and funny, but also genuinely sweet and warm. He revels in the flaws and awkwardness of his characters, and it’s where I find so much joy in his work.

And:

A friend recently asked people on Facebook to give a list of their favorite films since 2012, and I listed What We Do in the Shadows; not just because of my affection for that film, but because I needed a representative of Waititi’s work.

His films are so full of charm and joy and sweetness, and Hunt for the Wilderpeople is no exception. Plus, I’m a sucker for stories about people who come together and make weird nontraditional families. It deserves all the inclusion it has gotten on various lists of underrated or underappreciated films of 2016.

Taiki for life!

I bet some people are unreasonably disappointed when they visit New Zealand and it’s not actually Middle Earth. I’m probably going to be unreasonably disappointed if I ever go because everyone doesn’t talk like a character in a Taiki Waititi film.

And:

Here I am, the president of the Taiki Waititi fan club, at it again.

I don’t really know what else to say to get my friends to watch Waititi’s movies. I don’t know how anyone could not love his work. Don’t you like being happy?!

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is stuffed with joy, charm, and Waititi’s trademark lovable weirdos who become a family. There’s so much sweetness, but it never gets cloying.

Recently, when I recommended Hunt for the Wilderpeople on this blog, I joked that I’ll probably be disappointed if I ever go to New Zealand because people won’t talk like Taiki Waititi characters. The more I think about it, I realize it’s actually just disappointing that the people of the world in general don’t act more like Taiki Waititi characters.

Also, here is a trailer for Boy, which is criminally underseen.

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icheckmovies. [a month of happy.]

There are very few things in this world that make me happier than movies.

When you take movies and add in lists and achievement trophies to the mix you have a tailor made obsession machine for me. That’s what they do at iCheckMovies

iCheckMovies is a film nerd’s dream. An aggregation of list after list of history’s greatest and most important films according to various websites, critics, publications, film groups, and sundry.

It’s a great way to fill in blind spots and omissions in film knowledge, gleefully charge down rabbit holes of genres and subgenres, or even just decide what to watch next.

The first thing I do whenever I watch a new movie is head over and check it off. It’s super fun and I highly recommend it.

If you love movies and you don’t have iCheckMovies, you should remedy that and start checking movies immediately. If you do have it and we aren’t friends yet, you should find me and let us join movie nerd forces.

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cinefix: 10 best uses of color.

I’m sharing this because, while the video essay played out, I just kept worrying, “Please don’t leave In the Mood for Love off this list.” And then, they go and make it #1, those smart, charming bastards. And there is sense and justice and meaning in my world again.

Long live Wong Kar-wai! Long live international cinema!

I really need to pull the trigger on my planned deep dive into cinema. Fair warning to my friends who read this blog, once I go down that rabbit hole I might not be around for a while.

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