If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

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felipe
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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#26 Post by felipe » Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:28 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:24 pm
Whereas I could go the rest of my life never needing to see hyperbole like that directed towards any movie
Exactly. It's like some critics are just desperate to be quoted on message boards or tv ads...

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mfunk9786
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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#27 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:33 pm

Oh come on, those tweets don't read as movie poster fodder. At least try harder to be boringly cynical - would rather engage with unabashed enthusiasm about a film than "Oscar prospects look middling!"

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Big Ben
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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#28 Post by Big Ben » Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:55 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:33 pm
Oh come on, those tweets don't read as movie poster fodder. At least try harder to be boringly cynical - would rather engage with unabashed enthusiasm about a film than "Oscar prospects look middling!"
Very much agreed here. I like being cynical but Film Twitter is always like that.

felipe
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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#29 Post by felipe » Tue Sep 11, 2018 5:43 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:33 pm
Oh come on, those tweets don't read as movie poster fodder. At least try harder to be boringly cynical - would rather engage with unabashed enthusiasm about a film than "Oscar prospects look middling!"
Well, I was speaking generally, and although this particular example doesn't read as movie poster material it does look like something people would be retweeting endlessly and quoting on message boards. But this observation is in no way restricted to this film alone.

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Gregory
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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#30 Post by Gregory » Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:08 pm

Jessica Kiang wrote:I want to write a million words about the glimmering, radiant close-ups that Jenkins holds on for so long, like he's redressing decades of cinematic erasure...
If you really want to do it, do it. I'd read it with great interest. But one of the last places I'd look for anything more than superficial writing about any movie is a social media site with a short character limit enforcing brevity. No offense to anyone in particular writing about film on Twitter, but in the era of soundbites, actually developing an idea has become increasingly marginalized.
Last edited by Gregory on Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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swo17
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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#31 Post by swo17 » Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:14 pm

Gregory wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:08 pm
I want to write a million words about the glimmering, radiant close-ups that Jenkins holds on for so long, like he's redressing decades of cinematic erasure...
If you really want to do it, do it. I'd read it with great interest.
A million words would be like a 4,000 page book though

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Gregory
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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#32 Post by Gregory » Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:17 pm

If that happens, I still promise to read it cover to cover.

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Kirkinson
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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#33 Post by Kirkinson » Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:41 pm

She's a professional critic at Variety and the Playlist who didn't write a full review because someone else was assigned to it. I can't really blame her for not wanting to just give her hard work away for free.

nitin
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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#34 Post by nitin » Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:27 pm

Also Sight and Sound.

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Gregory
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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#35 Post by Gregory » Tue Sep 11, 2018 10:05 pm

I'm sure there's little I can say here that will lead to a worthwhile discussion, including my thoughts about Twitter (which was my intended point, not anything specifically about Kiang).

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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#36 Post by What A Disgrace » Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:37 pm

A million words would be closer to In Search of Lost Time than to War and Peace in terms of length.

I want to see this movie.

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mfunk9786
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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#37 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:18 am

I hope others who use hyperbole like "I could go on forever about this!" keep in mind that they might be called to the mat by a forum user to go on forever about it, or else they're a big fat liar. But as long as social media exists, I'm very glad to read people's short form impressions of movies on it, because I'm happy to read those anywhere (including here)

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Gregory
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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#38 Post by Gregory » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:00 pm

Nothing wrong with short-form impressions at all, and it wasn't my intent to point to a very ordinary tweet as an example of Twitter's worst tendencies or anything. I did find it hyperbolic, though, and in general there's a strong tendency toward expression that's either hyperbolic or glib.
When I see a promissory note for an idea, I'd usually rather read the idea itself. Especially in this case, because the notion that a close-up, or a bunch of them, could remedy decades of cinematic erasure just seems like one of the most extreme statements one could make about representation.

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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#39 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Oct 25, 2018 11:32 am

I want to write a million words about this film's Soderberghian visual synchronicity with its characters' every move, and Demme-on-steroids direct engagement with the audience. Inspired in its stoicism and lack of moments designed to make viewers bawl in their seats about the injustice of it all - it is instead crafted to make them think and feel in the hypnotic rhythm of its characters and hyper-relevant adult story. Excellent, mature film that only serves to cement Jenkins' seat at the 'great American directors' table.

But I'm not reviewing, sadly.

dda1996a
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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#40 Post by dda1996a » Thu Oct 25, 2018 1:33 pm

I'm dying to see this, but honestly I want every film Jenkins makes to succeed so I can hear him talk about the films he loves. Not since Scorsese and Varda have I loved hearing a director talk about his art and influences with such vigor and passion.

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Brian C
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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#41 Post by Brian C » Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:04 am

I'm of two minds about this. It certainly has some very powerful moments, in particular the confrontation between the two families when Tish's pregnancy is announced, and also the scene between Fonny and Daniel. At the same time, though, I couldn't help but feel that the material was being held back by Jenkins's insistence on art-movie reveries.

It's just that these characters are given so little opportunity by the director to live their lives. This is a story that begs for immediacy and passion and urgency, but it's as if Jenkins feels embarrassed to let it slide into melodrama, and these characters feel tied down and muted to me (aside from, as noted, some moments here and there). It's an impatient and elitist approach, in my view - as if these characters don't deserve to have their stories told unless it can be pitched at the genteel urban filmgoers that keep prestige cinema going. At the very least, Jenkins - despite having skill and intelligence that is obviously apparent in every frame of the film, much more so than Moonlight, I feel - is beholden to a very particular and not terribly distinctive idea of what a Great Film looks and feels like. And this is at least two films in a row now that he's forced it on material that it didn't fit with.

Bottom line is that I guess I feel a little bit pandered to in Jenkins's cinema.

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knives
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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#42 Post by knives » Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:27 pm

Brian C wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:04 am

Bottom line is that I guess I feel a little bit pandered to in Jenkins's cinema.
That's unfortunate because that was my biggest problem with Moonlight.

dda1996a
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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#43 Post by dda1996a » Fri Dec 28, 2018 2:20 pm

I don't know, I never felt pandered to in his films so far. He elevates what could be just another story into a beautiful array of small moments that add up to one touching whole. Granted I haven't seen this yet, but I loved Moonlight despite it's narrative shortcomings (ditto My Josephine which is one of my favorite short films)

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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#44 Post by DarkImbecile » Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:44 pm

I didn't necessarily find If Beale Street Could Talk pandering — and it definitely could have been in lesser hands — but for all the skill in its cinematography and editing, it did feel less a powerfully cohesive film like Moonlight than a collection of artfully composed moments drawn out of a script with significant inconsistency in quality from scene to scene. To Brian's point, some of these moments are as powerful as anything else I saw this year — I'm thinking in particular of Brian Tyree Henry's monologue at Fonnie and Tish's table and Regina King's meeting with Fonnie's accuser — but there are a few too many scenes presenting the leads as uncomplicated, borderline angelic archetypes of innocent decency and too few adding to their complexity to fully land the emotional payoffs and disappointments of the last twenty minutes.

I have no fundamental problem with the way Jenkins' commitment to expressionism lends itself to heightened illustrations of the core traits of his characters, but it shouldn't preclude building those characters into fully formed humans; several of the briefly sketched supporting characters felt more complex and detailed than the two leads, and while those performances by Kiki Layne and Stephan James are certainly more raw than some of the more experienced supporting actors, I think a lot of the sparseness of their roles comes from the script and direction. Layne improves as the film goes on, but her voiceover in the first third was a problem, and her performance combined with the script to occasionally leave that character feeling like too much of a cipher. The big confrontation between the families, on the other hand, was pitched a little too high for me, especially Aunjanue Ellis' pious mother who came off as too cartoonish for the drama of that scene to play as well as it could have.

To Jenkins' credit, I very much appreciated that he departed from the well-traveled road of making this film 'about' the miscarriage of justice at the core of the narrative, and instead taking the specific incident and the systemic racism that enables it almost for granted, instead keeping as his focus the worthiness and value of the lives disrupted by it. The score is stellar (one of the better of the year), much of the filmmaking is technically unimpeachable, and several of the supporting performances are amazing — Regina King has received much deserved recognition for her performance as Tish's mother, but I loved the tender resolve of Colman Domingo's performance as her father even more.

I'm not entirely certain why this is the case, but as much as I was impressed by so many discrete elements of the film, the contrast of those highs with the areas where the film fell short have been more prominent in my recollection since seeing it than with many other films for which I can more easily look past the rough edges. I suppose it says a lot about Jenkins' work thus far and his potential that while this is still a very good film, the fact that it wasn't obviously among the very best of the year is a fairly significant disappointment.

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Drucker
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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#45 Post by Drucker » Sat Jan 19, 2019 5:57 pm

I have a lot of thoughts about Beale Street which I'd like to come back to, but on the whole I found the picture magnificent, and far better than Moonlight. I keep thinking about the Bresson quote about "feeling" a movie instead of / before understanding it. Boy did I feel this one. I was put off by the feeling in Moonlight that it tried to hard. I never really got over the over-the-top fancy opening shot that introduces us to Ali. I found the straightforward narrative parts strong, but a lot of the rest of the film week, and I really didn't feel like the ending was earned at all.

Beale Street instead is simple and succinct. I really don't know how well this would work in a more overly melodramatic fashion, and found the mostly restrained film was very effective at the brief moments when the emotions came on strong. The older characters in the film are more lively than the young adults, and that worked for me. The supporting actors, especially the parents, and especially the two dads were amazing, and helped the film stay dynamic. There are a lot of humorous moments in this movie! I found myself laughing quite a bit, actually, and the supporting characters kept the film grounded, while the young protagonists were properly restrained. (Just how emotive is a 19 year old, clearly introverted, pregnant girl going to be?)

I found the film does a superb job of making the "bigger point" about racial justice and focusing it on a small group of people and really just one life. I laughed, I cried, and I felt this film. The showiness of the sake of showiness in Moonlight was gone, and we have a beautiful, again, simple story in its place. Well done.

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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#46 Post by Red Screamer » Fri Jan 25, 2019 7:13 pm

This didn't work for me at all. No one here seems to know what to do with the novel they're adapting. The acting and blocking, particularly with the leads, is painfully stilted, the romance is superficial, the film references (Hitchcock, Malick, Spike Lee) are pointless except to give critics a chance to point them out. The caricature of Fonny's mother and sisters is particularly embarrassing, paving the way for a series of 'audience-pleasing' put-downs. The high point of the film is Brian Tyree Henry, who is great on Atlanta and is great here for the single scene he's in, maybe the only actor in the film who makes the period dialogue sound natural. I've noticed a trend of films doing this recently, but unless you're 20th Century Women, you shouldn't be putting montages of historical photographs into your period piece. An inept disappointment.

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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#47 Post by nitin » Mon Feb 18, 2019 10:16 am

I quite liked Moonlight but was not on board with the masterpiece acclaim, this however was very much the real deal. The technique is smoother and it’s tonally much less chaotic (or at least the tonal shifts are a lot less jarring). The best part for me though was how matter of factly it deals with a lot of issues that would be signposted as ‘important’ in many other movies. I am not sure if that approach comes from Baldwin’s novel or Jenkins’ approach, but it was a refreshing change and a much more interesting take on the material.

Shame this is not in the Oscar discussion, especially since there were 2 unused best picture slots (although really it’s better than at least 5 of the nominations anyway).

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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#48 Post by Persona » Fri Mar 29, 2019 3:38 pm

This is on Hulu now!

So, hmm. Man. It's weird, this is an almost slavishly faithful adaptation of the book (though a couple important moments are left out and I'm really not sure why, especially when the film seemed to be ready to go into those moments--particularly one involving Fonny's dad) and it's a truly great book and this has some very fine performances, lovely camerawork, truly wonderful score... but.

It's a good movie. But something didn't quite click into place for me. There are numerous moments where you can almost feel it about to become great--like Daniel Carty's scene--but then it loses it.

I don't know, maybe the fragmentary nature of the book doesn't work as well when translated into cinema. The movie never finds a way to build its mood or tension or really anything, and the central relationship is ably acted but doesn't have quite enough chemistry to fully convince you. The film really lingers on some scenes that maybe it could have lingered less on (though a number of scenes are also great for that lingering and measured pace), and glosses over other moments that could have probably used a bit more time.

It's really odd because Jenkins does add some stuff to the ending to try to give it more of a resolution, I guess, but in a weird way it feels less resolved than the ending of the book, and I think that's because the movie doesn't really spend enough time laying the thematic groundwork for the ending it delivers. It's an ending that works more in a context outside of the film and if you know anything about James Baldwin, but in terms of the movie itself it feels almost tacked on.

Like I said, good movie, but something's holding it back from great, in my mind, and it's kind of hard to pinpoint exactly what that is aside from some of the stuff I and others have mentioned.

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knives
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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#49 Post by knives » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:54 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:10 pm
Image

Continuing to be incredibly excited for this.
This seems incredibly ironic now that I've seen the movie given the queer erasure it poses to Baldwin's voice not that that is anything new. Bladwin has a pretty unique voice as a black artist distanced from tradition due to queerness that gives his melodrama a unique sense. Jenkins continues to not be able to speak as a gay man which removes that distance. Had Jenkins leaned into that it would be a fine approach and something different from the book in possibly a great way. Instead, as Brian notes, he's desperate to maintain that distance. I think there are thematic reasons he wants to maintain that distance so as to connect the problems of this story to today rendering it zeitgeisty rather than getting lost with the characters, but what he replaces Baldwin's voice with seems to be a fear of melodrama that makes this a hetero, blandly atheist, masculine fest. Occasionally this can synthesize into great moments like the Atlanta guy's cameo which could have been it's own movie, but mostly just paints a weird aggressiveness that feels uncomfortable with itself. This is extremely obvious with Fonny's mother's ridiculous religiousity which Baldwin can paint with the nuanced view of someone who had loved it and learned to hate. Here though she's just this stupid and intolerant woman who no one likes and says dumb stuff. This is a film full of potential that it never reaches.

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Re: If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)

#50 Post by nitin » Sun Aug 04, 2019 11:11 pm

I don’t agree with some of your other points but I can understand them, but I struggle with the ‘masculine fest’ comment. What did you mean there knives?

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