Movie News & Reviews

‘Moonlight’ is out on Blu-ray today — and the audio commentary is great

'Moonlight' trailer

A timeless story of human connection and self-discovery, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.
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A timeless story of human connection and self-discovery, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.

If you still haven’t seen the made-in-Miami drama “Moonlight,” which won the Best Picture Oscar on Sunday (I can’t stop saying that), the film is still playing in area theaters and returns to O Cinema Wynwood this Friday. “Moonlight” was shot in gorgeous widescreen and deserves to be viewed on the biggest screen possible.

But if you’re more of a stay-at-home type, the “Moonlight” Blu-ray hits stores today and the disc’s glorious transfer does the movie justice. Don’t wait too long if you want to pick it up this week: The disc is currently sold out on Amazon.

Among the extras on the Blu-ray is an audio commentary track by writer-director Barry Jenkins, who is a big fan of DVD audio commentaries himself and knows how to make a great one. Here are five facts about “Moonlight” we learned from listening to his commentary:

1) The crack den in which young Chiron (Alex Hibbert) hides out from bullies at the start of the film wasn’t a set: It was an actual abandoned apartment complex the filmmakers found. The place was so disheveled, the movie’s crew had to clean the vacant unit before they were able to shoot.

2) The game the kids in the movie play using a wadded-up ball of newspapers is called “Throw and Tackle,” which Jenkins played as a youth in the same field where the scene was shot.

3) Jenkins didn’t want to rehearse the critical scene in which the teenage Chiron (Ashton Sanders) has his first sexual encounter with his friend Kevin (Jharrel Jerome), because he wanted to capture the actors’ spontaneous behavior. On the night of the shoot, Jerome, who was still unsure about how to play the moment, asked Jenkins if this was the first time Chiron had kissed another man. Jenkins told him that this was the first time Chiron had kissed anyone, which was all the explanation Jerome needed.

4) At several moments in the film, the actors look directly into the camera. Jenkins says that was an artistic decision he made in order to put the audience directly into the scene — to use point-of-view as a means of emotional transference.

5) All the scenes in the film between Chiron and his drug-addicted mother (played by Naomie Harris) were based on actual events that happened to either Jenkins or Tarell Alvin McCraney, whose autobiographical play inspired the movie. At one point, Jenkins couldn’t remember if the scene in which Chiron’s mom shakes him down for money to buy crack had happened to him or McCraney. “You’d remember it if it had happened to you,” McCraney told him.

6) The use of Caetano Veloso’s “Cucurrucucú Paloma” when the grown Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) drives from Atlanta to Miami on the Florida Turnpike was a side effect of Jenkins growing up in Miami and having heard the song often.

Rene Rodriguez: 305-376-3611, @ReneMiamiHerald

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