Producer’s Film Picks for December 2016

The theme for this month – Stand Up and Be Counted: Bully Culture and US Society


Theatrical Release
Moonlight (2016)


Written with Tarell McCraney, directed and written by Barry Jenkins


The films stars Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp, Duan Sanderson, Alex R. Hibbert, Janelle Monáe, Naomie Harris and Andre Holland.


“Though not the towering masterpiece it’s being touted to be, ‘Moonlight’ at its best is an uncommonly sensitive coming-of-age narrative, divided into three sections over multiple decades, about a young gay black man growing up in the 1980s in Miami’s crack-plagued Liberty City, Fla. The film is directed by Barry Jenkins – only his second feature film – who grew up in Liberty City, as did Tarell Alvin McCraney, the MacArthur genius grant winner whose short, unproduced play, ‘In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,’ Jenkins adapted. (The men did not know each other growing up.) The deep-down feeling for the Liberty City milieu is one of the film’s strongest suits: Jenkins and McCraney know these streets and these people.The film’s three sections take their titles from the boy’s names or nicknames at successive points in his life.” Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor



“Little/Chiron/Black is not the sort of character movies get made about, and we need many, many more of them.” MaryAnn Johanson


“The film’s specificity is inseparable from its almost unbearable intimacy—yet it’s an intimacy that Jenkins achieves through a directorial conception that’s as daringly spectacular as it is thoughtful and personal, starting with the movie’s very first shot, a vertiginously gyrating view of Juan, heading to a corner to supervise one of his young street dealers. This overwhelmingly inventive whirl wrenches viewers out of the realm of the ordinary and into a state of stunned consciousness and heightened alertness, into a world that’s both recognizable and like no other. That shot ends with a group of kids dashing noisily past the indifferent Juan; they and that agitation continue in the next shot, of the kids running through a field, in what seems for a moment carefree and turns out to be a chase, featuring the half-heard shout “Get his gay ass.” Then, the near-victim—that’s Little—finds refuge in an empty apartment that’s a drug den, and his pursuers terrify him by shouting and throwing rocks at its door and boarded-up windows. They leave, the boy is alone, and the sudden silence—safety from the clamor and terror of the world outside, momentary respite from persecutors—turns out to be a doubly unstable one when Juan, dislodging a window board, climbs in.” Richard Brody, New Yorker


Brazil (1986)




Written with Tom Stoppard and Charles McKeown, written and directed by Terry Gilliam


The films stars Jonathan Pryce, Robert de Niro, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Bob Hoskins and Michael Palin.


“The government in Brazil makes things even worse, aiming at total control but achieving zero due to stupidity and incompetence at every level. Look at the computer and television screens, for example—instead of nice big monitors, everyone has cramped little ones clumsily magnified by additional screens in front of them—or at Sam’s telephone, a muddled knot of plugs and wires more like an archaic switchboard than a sleek electronic device. The powers that be—or Central Services, in the government’s deceptively bland jargon—do everything the convoluted way, nothing the obvious way. Horrible explosions recur throughout the story, but despite the government’s constant claims that terrorists are to blame, it’s possible there are no terrorists, just a lot of lethal accidents caused by bungling authorities. This richly ironic idea–that the guardians of civic order are the worst enemies of civic order—resounds throughout the film. Brazil is as zany and hilarious as the greatest screen comedies, but it’s also as serious and cautionary as two classic dystopian satires to which it bears a family resemblance: Franz Kafka’s The Trial (1925), still the most blood-chilling tale of humanity crushed by bureaucratic overkill, and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which anticipates the official malice and malpractice so ubiquitous in Brazil, even though Gilliam says he never read it. The sociopolitical message of Brazil is woven into every aspect of its pullulating tapestry.” David Sterritt, Criterion


The Act of Killing (2013)


Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer.


The film features boastful mass murderers.


“‘The Act of Killing’ is exemplary as a history lesson, a character study and a powerful argument for confronting the past. But what really elevates it to the status of masterpiece, and what has earned it raves from the likes of Werner Herzog and Errol Morris, is its surreal juxtaposition of the fictional and the real. During the reenactment scenes, many emotions play across the faces of the participants, especially Congo, which demonstrate how art, or even merely artifice, can create a sense of shared humanity which may be utterly absent in so-called real life.” Marc Mohan, Oregonian


Moonlight is currently showing at the Grand Cinema.


Brazil screened on December 2 in the Center for Spiritual Living (206 N. J St).


The Act of Killing will screen at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 9 in the CSL. A potluck begins downstairs in the CSL at 5:30 prior to the film. Membership renewal emphasized. Come join us! Gabba gabba! We accept you! One of us!


The TFC Discussion Night for these three films is Wednesday, December 14 in the CSL.

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