Review: 'Moonlight' Explores The Plight Of Black Gay Identity

'Moonlight' sheds light on what it means to wrestle with your sexual identiy while dealing with social-economical issues. 

Barry Jenkins’ feature film Moonlight captivatingly weaves together what it means to be a young black gay man, and while this topic might sound familiar, Jenkins’ approach to telling this story is far more intricate. Through the film’s main character Chiron, you’ll experience the dangerous socio-economic waters he drowns in. To add to the narrative, viewers get to see Chiron morph into three different stages of his life, with three different actors to play him in each separate juncture as he goes from childhood to adulthood.

The film is set in 1980s Liberty City, Miami, one of South Florida’s roughest neighborhoods, and where Jenkins himself grew up. While he was writing the screenplay for the movie in Brussels, he decided to incorporate some of his own experiences into the film. Like having to boil water to take a bubble bath, and use dishwasher detergent to back the bubbles, according to The Fader.

At first, we’re introduced to Chiron as a young child who goes by “Little” (Alex R. Hibbert), whose mother is a crack addict; they live in a torn down home. Little’s demeanor is ice-cold, almost stoic with minimal dialogue. His silence makes all the noise, as his intense facial expressions voice everything he needs to say.

When he's chased down by a local crew, and finds safe shelter inside a crack house, he's rescued by local drug dealer, Juan (Mahershala Ali). Because Chiron won’t say a word, Juan takes him in and feeds him. Theresa (Janelle Monae), Juan’s partner plays a motherly role to the tormented boy. This is where Jenkins excels at exposing a larger depth to his characters. He strips away Juan’s hyper masculine appearance, and unearths a sensitive layer of humanity in him. He becomes conflicted when he realizes the same crack he sells, is the same Chiron’s mother succumbs to. It’s unfortunate, but real.

Fast forward to Chiron as a high school student, (played by Ashton Sanders) and you’ll still see the residue his traumatic upbringing scarred him with. He is still quiet. He is still bullied. And more so, he is wrestling with his sexual identity. Juan is now out of the picture, but Theresa still offers him a place to stay when he needs to get away from his belligerent mother. He begins to explore his same sex attraction with a fellow classmate, Kevin, (Jharrel Jerome) until things go sour as he gets beaten up by that same lover in school; all a product of high school peer pressure. In hindsight, Chiron begs for empathy and understanding from others. The dark cloud that looms over his life depicts the realities many face in real life.

In the film’s last transition, Chiron is finally a full-blown adult (Trevante Rhodes), and he looks nothing like he did before. Chiron went from being a victim of the trap to now reigning supreme as its main king. Still, the strength that he exudes on the surface doesn’t match his interior. That same vulnerability Little had, grown-up Chiron resurrects. In a turn of events, he goes from Atlanta down to Miami to seek his old male friend, Kevin (now Andre Holland), and professes to him he's the only man he has ever touched.

While most could say the film leaves the viewers asking for more—as Chiron leans on Kevin’s body in the last scene of the film—it seems like he has finally found his solace.

Moonlight is set to debut in theaters Oct. 21.

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‘Candyman’ Receives New Fall Theater Release Date

What was once slated to be released on June 12, Candyman will now appear in theaters on Sept. 25 due to COVID-19 concerns, Deadline reports. The Nia DaCosta-directed thriller had viewers on the edge of their seats when the trailer was released earlier this year, setting up the box office for a smash of a film.

Candyman stars Yayha Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Colman Domingo, and more. In 1992, the original film was released and instantly became a mainstay within the canon of horror films.

For the film’s producer Jordan Peele, Candyman’s original director Bernard Rose’s mission for the movie grew into a level of understanding that Peele recently realized. “And his vision, I think, is nothing short of beautiful, albeit complicated,” he said in an interview with Gizmodo. “It’s one that I can look at in hindsight with more experience and education and go, ‘Wow, that is…it’s definitely a mirror.’ All I’ll say—because I don’t want to go too far down that rabbit hole—is we’re doing it differently.”

Revisit the trailer above.

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TC Carson Reveals He Was Fired From ‘Living Single’ For Voicing Frustrations

T.C. Carson sat down with Comedy Hype for an extensive interview where he revealed that he was fired from Living Single for speaking out on behalf of the cast, and subsequently “blackballed” from Hollywood.

According to Carson, the cast had “various” issues with the show -- from the way that they were treated, to the script, and others things that occurred during the five-season run.

“There were times when we had issues on the show and we would come to them as a cast but I would be the spokesperson for it,” Carson recalled. “That last season before I left, they called me in and they basically said 'All these problems that we’ve been having they [the cast] listen to you…so if you said something else, then they would do that.’

“I said, ‘Well first of all, we’re dealing with five grown people and they have their own minds and their own ideas about what we’re doing,” Carson continued. “Everything we come to you with is a group decision, but if you think I have that much power then I need to have a different job,’ and I don’t think they liked that.”

At the start of the final season, Carson’s character (Kyle Barker) was shipped off to London, raising his suspicions about potentially getting fired, but he was assured that he wouldn’t be let from the show. After the episode aired, Carson says he got a call from his lawyer telling him that he was fired from the show. “It wasn’t that I got fired, it was the way it was done.”

Carson also mentioned the treatment that the cast endured compared to the cast of Friends, which debuted after Living Single and used the same concept, except with white actors. Both sitcoms were filmed on the same lot at Warner Bros.

After getting fired, Carson went on an audition where he learned from a Black casting director that his former Living Single bosses spread false rumors about him. “He said, ‘I heard you were difficult, that you came to work unprepared, and I said ‘You know what? This interview is over. Thank you so much for your time,’ and I got up and walked out because I’m not going to let a Black man berate me in front of these white people.”

The 61-year-old actor described the experience as “devastating,” but despite troubles behind the scenes, he has fond memories of working with Queen Latifah, Erica Alexander, and the rest of the Living Single cast.

Watch clips of his interview below.


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Nicky Jam Shows The Good, The Bad And The Hustle In 'El Ganado' Bio-Series Trailer

It's been years in the making but Latinx superstar Nicky Jam is finally ready to share his truth with the authorized Netflix bio-series, Nicky Jam: El Ganador.

Sharing the trailer this week, the series will highlight Jam's journey in the music industry as well as the struggles he endured in the streets and more. The project is directed by acclaimed film and music video director Jessy Terrero and produced by Endemol Shine Boomdog, a division of Endemol Shine North America. The series will officially hit Netflix on April 21.

In the trailer, we see Jam in three stages: his youth, his rookie days in the game and the actual artist in the present. The creative take is bound to give fans another perspective of the Grammy-winning artist.

“I’ve been hearing from many of my fans on social media and when I talk with them in person, that they’ve been waiting for the chance to see ‘El Ganador’ in the U.S. on Netflix,” said Nicky Jam. “Now they will get to see it starting April 21 and I hope they enjoy it like so many others have across the world. I’m really proud of what we created.”

“I am excited about bringing this level of story-telling that is related to reggaeton music,” added Terrero. “The genre’s popularity gives our story and others like it the opportunity to reach a much larger audience. This is my mission with Cinema Giants. Nicky’s story is inspirational in so many ways. I am proud to be part of it.”

Jam recently celebrated another feat on the Billboard Latin charts. "Muevelo," his buzzy single with Daddy Yankee, reached No. 1 on both the Latín Airplay and Latin Rhythm Airplay charts. 

Check out the trailer for El Ganador up top and revisit our VIBE VIVA February cover story with Jam here. 

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