seen @ Alamo Drafthouse, Brooklyn NY
I almost passed on Moonlight. I had read the brief capsule description on the Kew Gardens Theater website and I wasn't completely sold on the film. I figured I'd need to see a trailer before I could decide, but I wasn't in any hurry to see one. Then I saw it was one of the first movies to play at the brand-new Alamo Drafthouse theater in Brooklyn. Eventually I looked the movie up on Rotten Tomatoes and, well, you know the rest. Everyone loves this movie to death, and with good reason.
I was amazed at how director Barry Jenkins was able to build two distinct characters, Chiron and Kevin, out of six different actors in three age groups. One gets the sense of consistency in the performances, especially from the three actors portraying Chiron: the guarded nature, certain head movements.
I was reminded of the three Brionys of Atonement, not to mention the 12-year performance of Ellar Coltrane condensed into the film Boyhood. In each case, consistency was necessary to make the character believable as a single person, stretched out over time. I think Jenkins accomplished that here.
Like Pariah a few years ago, this is a coming-of-age story about growing up black and gay, only from the male instead of the female perspective. I think we've heard the stereotypes about gay black men; how supposedly over the top they act. I'm pretty sure I've never met one, so I can't say if it's true. Fortunately, Moonlight punctures that familiar image and presents a different one, using deft camerawork and subtle storytelling to show us a person, searching for an identity all his own in a world eager to tell him who he ought to be. That much I could relate to, and understand. I found the film riveting from start to finish.
So the Alamo has finally come to the five boroughs after I first shared the news here way back in 2010, the first year of WSW. I couldn't find the theater at first. I knew it was in the vicinity of the Fulton Street Mall, but all the side streets tripped me up at first. When I asked for directions, I accidentally said "Bond Street." It's actually on Gold Street, but there really is a Bond Street in the area. Funny that.
Alamo is on the fourth floor of a mall building with other stuff on the lower floors. I had hoped it would be on street level, but this being New York, that's not always possible. The Shining Overlook Hotel carpeting is a nice touch. All around are posters from what I believe are Turkish movies. Why? I have no idea. I can't say I've heard of any of them. I guess Tim League thinks they're cool. Eh. It's different, if nothing else.
The food was excellent (I had a burger with fries); the service was excellent (an usher actually led me directly to my seat!). The seats were comfy and the bathrooms were nice and clean. That said, I'm not sure how often I'll come back. For one thing, this Alamo is expensive as hell! $14.50 with no Tuesday all-day matinee like at the Yonkers location. I was told the matinee ended at 1 pm. There was a 30% discount on the menu. If there wasn't, I doubt I would've ordered any food. Even the traditional movie theater food was pricey; eight bucks for a popcorn?
Maybe it was there and I didn't see it - which is entirely possible; if so, ignore the following - but when I entered the lobby, I didn't see a board showing films and times. I would think that was standard for any movie theater. I had to ask if Moonlight was playing just to be sure! I should never have to do that in any theater. The Yonkers theater has "now playing" posters hanging outside at least.
Overall, while it looked and felt the way an Alamo should, I was disappointed with it in other ways. I'm part of the Victory program, which does mean you get special discounts and privileges the more you attend (how? I was never issued a membership card), but as expensive as the Brooklyn theater is, I think I may opt to stick to the Yonkers theater, despite the location problems with that place I've talked about before. Special events? We'll see. But I had hoped for a little better.