Interviews About My #1 Film of 2018, If Beale Street Could Talk

Posted on January 7, 2019 at 8:00 am

Copyright Annapurna 2018
I had the great pleasure of speaking to two of the people behind my favorite film of the year, “If Beale Street Could Talk,” breakout star Kiki Layne and writer/director Barry Jenkins, who adapted the film from the James Baldwin novel.

My interview with Ms. Layne was for the Alliance of Women Film Journalists. She spoke about the support her character gets from her strong, devoted family.

The love in that family is just so, so powerful. We see the beauty of having those people to lean into and having those people around that are nurturing you and nurturing your growth. Tish has some growing up to do. Her family encourages that but it’s not all, “You’ve got to get over this.” It wasn’t that type of energy. It’s just like, “Hey, this is a situation that you’re in but really we’re all in it together,” and I think that was the beauty of the family dynamic in this film.

And I spoke to Barry Jenkins for rogerebert.com. He described the one scene where he augmented Baldwin’s story.

Another one of my favorite scenes is the one where they’re in the loft with the young landlord after so many rejections. It is so delicate and charming.

The character was in the book but it’s one of the few places in the translation that I’ll say I felt it didn’t go just far enough for me and so as I was walking around the space I just had this thought in my head like, “How in the hell could you possibly see a way to turn this into a home?” Then I realized, “Oh, but what says love and faith more than a lover saying, ‘I promise I can do this’ and you say ‘Okay, yes I believe you,’” So that’s when we added this whole thing of how we’re going to make this into a home and then him showing where he’s going to put all these things and then I was like, “Oh, it feels kind of cute let’s just go all the way with this pantomiming with the fridge,” and when we did it, there was something so lovely about watching Dave Franco and Stephan James perform this kind of joke in a certain way which was rooted in love and faith that when we got to the roof it also seemed like, “Okay, and now these characters feel connected. How can we take it one step further?”

This idea of mothers in the film is so important. Tish has a mother and she is pregnant, Fonny has a mother, Victoria Rogers, the woman who’s been sexually assaulted, she’s pregnant. She’s not showing but she’s pregnant. It’s all this idea of mothers. I thought, “Oh, here is something that I can see uniting these characters,” and that’s when we gave Dave Franco the line, “I’m just my mother’s son.” Sometimes it’s that idea that makes the difference between us and them; not black and white but people who have been loved and the people who haven’t.

This was adapted with I think much respect and deference to Mr. Baldwin, but that was one of the places where I’m really proud of how I was able to fuse my voice and his.

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Actors Directors Interview Race and Diversity Writers

Breakout Stars of 2018

Posted on January 6, 2019 at 10:12 pm

Copyright 2018 20th Century Fox
What I look forward to most every year, as I examine the list of upcoming films, is the surprises. Of course I am excited about more from the actors and filmmakers I love — the big blockbusters and earnest dramas, the comedies and romances. But it is the actors and filmmakers I have never heard of in January and will not be able to imagine life without in December I am eagerly anticipating most. With that in mind, I really enjoyed Rotten Tomatoes’ list of the biggest breakout stars of 2018, and I agree that every one of them is now in my pantheon of greats, including “Leave No Trace’s” Thomasin McKenzie, “Deadpool 2′” Zazie Beats (who also gets the coolest name award), Awkwafina (“Crazy Rich Asians” and “Oceans 8”), Cynthia Erivo (“Bad Times at the El Royale,” “Widows”), and Noah Centineo (“To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” and “Sierra Burgess is a Loser”). I’d add Amandla Stemberg (I was already a fan but she was sensational in “The Hate U Give”), Kiki Layne (“If Beale Street Could Talk”), John David Washington (“BlackKklansman”), and Elsie Fisher (“Eighth Grade”). To the people who will surprise me this year — I can’t wait to meet you.

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Actors

One of the Best Screenplays of 2018 Free Online

Posted on January 6, 2019 at 9:53 am

Copyright 2018 Sony Animation
The best surprise I had at the movie theater last year was “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and I am delighted that the filmmakers have made the screenplay available online.  Take a look at the fresh, clever, jubilant writing that made this movie such a delight.

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Comic book/Comic Strip/Graphic Novel Understanding Media and Pop Culture Writers

The Apartment — Without Lemmon and MacLaine

Posted on January 4, 2019 at 10:18 pm

This fascinating video essay shows us what the Oscar-winning Billy Wilder film “The Apartment” would look like without the actors, revealing the role that the setting plays in telling the story.  After all, that is the name of the film.

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Understanding Media and Pop Culture

Online Film Critics Society Awards 2019

Posted on January 2, 2019 at 9:05 am

I am proud to be a member of the Online Film Critics and very proud of our awards for 2019.

BEST PICTURE
Roma

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

BEST DIRECTOR
Alfonso Cuarón – Roma

BEST LEAD ACTOR
Ethan Hawke – First Reformed

BEST LEAD ACTRESS
Toni Collette – Hereditary

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Michael B. Jordan – Black Panther

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Paul Schrader – First Reformed

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Barry Jenkins – If Beale Street Could Talk

BEST EDITING
Eddie Hamilton – Mission: Impossible – Fallout

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Alfonso Cuarón – Roma

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Nicholas Britell – If Beale Street Could Talk

BEST DEBUT FEATURE
Ari Aster – Hereditary

BEST FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
Roma

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
Annihilation – Best Visual Effects
Black Panther – Best Costume Design
Mission: Impossible – Fallout – Best Stunt Coordination
A Quiet Place – Best Sound Design
A Star Is Born – Best Original Songs

ONLINE FILM CRITICS SOCIETY’S BEST OF THE YEAR
1. Roma
2. BlacKkKlansman
3. If Beale Street Could Talk
4. First Reformed
5. The Favourite
6. You Were Never Really Here
7. Annihilation
8. Eighth Grade
9. Hereditary
10. A Star Is Born
11. Suspiria

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
Roger Deakins
Spike Lee
Rita Moreno
Robert Redford
Agnès Varda

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

Director Ryan Coogler, for Black Panther’s distinctive critical and box office appeal

The city of Oakland, CA, for hosting two of 2018’s most socially and artistically compelling films about race relations, “Sorry to Bother You” and “Blindspotting.”

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Awards
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