Few films engender absolute aesthetic devotion on a widespread scale, pure love for a singular cinematic perspective that conjures a sense of ride-or-die allegiance from its viewers to the creators. In 2016, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight and Anna Rose Holmer’s The Fits were two of the most fervently beloved films of the year and luckily for fans of both they have converged in an orgiastic ballet that’s short enough to enjoy on your coffee break. In a feat of unexpected Persona-esque mind melding, Holmer and Moonlight’s Academy Award-nominated composer Nicholas Britell have crafted a dance tribute to Jenkins’ triptych of yearned identity with New York City’s Alvin Ailey Dance Theater: Just Dance: Moonlight x Alvin Ailey. In retrospect, the films have much more in common than meets the eye; after all, each visually explore – with absorbing and diamond-cut grace – the explosive unease that arises when you break out of the shell that your community expects you to inhabit. This is where Holmer's dance interpretation begins. It’s certainly thrilling to see Moonlight presented on a stage, where Tarell Alvin McCraney’s original roots began. Take a look for yourself and let us know how you feel: has Holmer captured Chiron’s transformative evolution through this physically formational medium?
Entries in Nicholas Britell (2)
By Chris Feil
It's always ceaselessly frustrating to see deserving below-the-line work from so-called smaller films miss out on Oscar nominations. Even when a film is a favorite in the major categories, it can still be hard to break through beyond major races - just look at last year's Room. This year, Moonlight deserves those nominations for its behind-the-scenes craft, each of its elements too powerful and integral to deny. But for brevity's sake, I'll just call attention to its evocative score by Nicholas Britell.
Britell threads recurring melodies and tones through each of Chiron's chapters without feeling repetitive. As the piano theme comes in and out, it takes us back to the previous struggles that add weight to the fresh one, just as life is connected memory to memory. The sharp strings show the soaring relief of a moment like Juan teaching him to swim, but also reveal the anxiety of being seen for what he truly is, the fear of what that means.