What I am Watching: Moonlight and Doctor Who


Awards season is afoot, and like every year I catch up with the non-blockbusters that got buzz the previous year. Moonlight, written and directed by Barry Jenkins, has been a critical darling, and I couldn’t wait to get around to seeing it.

While I thought the film was well made, I think critics and viewers have drunk the Kool-Aid on this one. Perhaps it’s a backlash on the #OscarSoWhite from the previous year which made everyone bow down to this all black movie like it was manna from heaven.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to take away any artistic credit from this film, but it surely isn’t the masterpiece that’s being written about in various publications. It is instead a small film that feels truly independent, but doesn’t stretch the limits of that independence. It’s filmed and written at about the same level as another small film which received great acclaim when I was a teenager and also dealt with sexuality and youth, L.I.E. And just like that movie was decent but felt like a first time director’s best efforts, this one does too. My main gripe with Moonlight is that it feels like a first time director’s best work from 2001 (when the aforementioned film was released).

Perhaps for being one of the first movies which tries to tackle the issues of sexuality in a hyper-macho black world, there is no option but to be stuck so far back in time. The language and nuance haven’t been developed yet. The layers have yet to be lifted to understand what it truly means to be a gay man in a culture where gangstas rule, where men are “dawgs” and women “bitches”. I felt that unless one is part of this culture, there are a lot of blanks that needed to be filled to understand the profundity of what Mr. Jenkins was trying to convey to film. While I certainly don’t support force feeding an audience, I felt that Mr. Jenkins could have dug a bit deeper. Instead he rarely even let things simmer as they remained as stoic as his main character, Chiron.

Moonlight is not a bad movie, but it left me devoid of any feeling – in the end I was neither happy nor sad for the characters and unsure if I cared about what would come next for them. It also didn’t make me think, imagine, or wonder. It allowed me a small peak into a character’s mind who did everything to shut me out of his mind as the film developed. I recommend the film, but only for those who appreciate watching artistic development – and I do believe Mr. Jenkins has much better work in store in the future.


Doctor Who Christmas Special 2016: The Return of Doctor Mysterio

Steven Moffat is a hard guy to pin down. I love how much wonder and fantasy he brought to the Doctor Who universe, I also hate how much wonder and fantasy he brought to the Doctor Who universe. Let me explain.

Moffat’s run with Matt Smith was filled with time travel lunacy, and fantastic sets, and dreamy story lines. He created this universe which seemed larger than itself in what was already a pretty damn big universe. The Doctor suddenly felt like a wizard who could manipulate time and circumstance at will.

This same magic and wonder also made The Doctor into a pseudo Harry Potter. He was too silly and cute. The universe that at times felt larger than itself also felt like it would crumble under its own weight. Fortunately Capaldi came into the picture and Doctor Who became less about the capers and more about its central figures, mainly The Doctor.

The Return of Doctor Mysterio was a bit of a hybrid of these two notions. While it allowed The Doctor to shine, it also made sure to create a completely fantastic side story involving  a super hero and yet another alien invasion.

While there were elements of the episode that worked, it mostly felt unfocused. Were we supposed to care about The Doctor, and what had become of him since losing so much last season, or were we to care more about the development of The Ghost, the superhero that is saving the day.

Whatever the case, it was good to see The Doctor back in action and I am happy that Moffat will be taking a step back and allowing someone else into the driver’s seat. He added a lot of great elements to the show, but sometimes enough is enough. This is probably the least memorable of the Christmas specials, but it is a perfect example of both Moffat’s strengths and weaknesses, which in short are: great premises but not always the best character development and execution.


P. Ray

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One Response to What I am Watching: Moonlight and Doctor Who

  1. Pingback: What I am Watching: Twin Peaks and Star Trek: Voyage (the back-end of season 2) | Brazusa's Blog

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