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If Beale Street Could Talk (2019)

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On ‎8‎/‎3‎/‎2018 at 5:55 PM, starri said:

A lot of people have already said Regina King is going to be winning an Oscar for this.

God, I hope!!!!  After being snubbed for Ray, it would be nice to see.

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'If Beale Street Could Talk' director Barry Jenkins and stars discuss the blackest part of their film

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Ask anyone familiar with the late James Baldwin about his work and the words “unapologetically black” will come to mind. When Barry Jenkins, director of the Oscar-winning “Moonlight,” decided to adapt the famed writer’s novel “If Beale Street Could Talk,” he knew he had to bring it. And by “it,” I mean the blackness. 

Ahead of the film’s world premiere Sunday at the Toronto International Film Festival, Jenkins, along with stars Kiki Layne and Stephan James, stopped by the Los Angeles Times film and video studio to discuss the blackest aspect of the picture.

Edited by Dee

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‘Beale Street’ Star Stephan James Continues To Rise And Represent

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Stephan James is quickly becoming an actor known for notable prestige projects. With starring roles in award season favorite If Beale Street Could Talk and Amazon’s Homecoming, the Canadian native is easily becoming a breakout star of 2018 and there is no sign of stopping for him — except for a recent stop he made at the New Hollywood Podcast.

James is not new to the Hollywood scene. He starred in various TV series starting in 2010 including the popular teen drama series Degrassi: The Next Generation. It didn’t take long for his talent to get noticed. His resume is stacked with various film and TV roles. He starred in Ava DuVernay’s Martin Luther King Jr. pic Selma; played Olympian Jesse Owens in Race; starred in Gina Prince-Bythewood and and Reggie Rock Bythewood’s TV series Shots Fired, and is now getting love for his role in Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of the James Baldwin classic and starring opposite Julia Roberts in the Amazon series based on a hit podcast. Needless to say, he is in very good company.

James talked to us about how the issues tackled in his projects resonate with him and audiences as well as working with high-profile Hollywood luminaries like Jenkins, Roberts, DuVernay, and Prince-Bythewood. He also gives us a little lesson on Jamaican food.

Edited by Dee

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One thing I really liked about the movie is that even though it wasn't her story, they didn't shortchange Victoria or her trauma. None of what happened to Fonny was her fault. She was a victim just like he was.

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I watched Degrassi religiously from 2001 until it went off the air. I don’t recognize Stephan James.  I need to google. And I did, he was friends with Drew, okay I remember him now.

 

May Regina get every award she deserves. 

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I saw it last Saturday and I loved it.

Thank you Regina King, for once again proving that "Black Don't Crack". This woman barely looks any different from when she was on 227.

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I adored this movie. So beautiful, with such lovely performances. The leads (Kiki Layne and Stephan James) were great, as were Colman Domingo, Teyonah Parris, Michael Beach and the GREAT Regina King and Bryan Tyree Henry in supporting roles. I also loved seeing some of my faves like Diego Luna and Pedro Pascal show up in smaller roles. Most of all, I loved the story of Tish and Fonny, and seeing them grow and come into their own, while facing adversity. I teared up toward the end, and I wanted to see more of these characters. Well done, Barry Jenkins!

Edited by Gillian Rosh
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well this finally got more of a wider release so i saw it today (not very many people in our theater so i think it will be gone by next week but i hope not)

I liked it a lot, but i still liked Moonlight better

good acting all around by everybody

and the score, so good

I wish it would win more awards :(

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If Beale Street Could Talk won two Critics' Choice Awards tonight!

Best Supporting Actress: Regina King – as Sharon Rivers

Best Adapted Screenplay: Barry Jenkins

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo
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Regina King was the best part of the movie by far. Not just her acting but the small part of the plot was the absolute highlight. I wanted more of her.

I thought the lead, Tish, was weak. Beautiful woman but her performance stuck out as less than stellar next to King, Stephan James and...well everyone else frankly.

Like Moonlight I think the movie was atmosphere over character or plot and I’m just not a fan of movies like that. The writing has to match the gorgeous aesthetics.

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The Oscar nominations are out and it appears that once again, poor Amy Adams (officially the Susan Lucci of the Oscars) will be edged out, because Regina King is a shoo-in for Best Supporting Actress.

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8 hours ago, Dee said:

Regina King is an overdue, well deserving nominee.

I agree--she should have gotten a nomination and win for "Ray"  I'm thrilled for her, I just can't help ruefully laughing at what will likely be Amy Adams' fate for the umpteenth time. She just seems perpetually doomed to come up against someone's better performance.

Edited by Camille
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Amy Adams (who is a great actress) time will come. If the great Glenn Close can wait, so can Amy.

Edited by Dee
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On 1/5/2019 at 8:47 PM, AimingforYoko said:

One thing I really liked about the movie is that even though it wasn't her story, they didn't shortchange Victoria or her trauma. None of what happened to Fonny was her fault. She was a victim just like he was.

Yes I liked this too. After hearing her story -Puerto Rician woman, married to an Irish man, after her brutal rape she goes home to Puerto Rico without her children; I wondered if she and her husband weren’t in a custody battle of some kind, and he sent someone to rape her to scare her/silence her and get her to hand him the children. She was never the villain here, and I liked that Regina King’s character, while fully focused on exonerating Fonnie, didn’t turn her into the villain. 

I asked my Mom (who’s read the novel) if Tish was waiting for Fonnie- or just taking his son to visit him. She said she was waiting for him; damn. We know Fonnie was innocent, and he did love Tish very much, but that’s a lot to ask a young woman in the flower of her youth to wait for him. Of course that’s Tish’s choice, but I would’ve understood had she moved on with her life, and brought her son to visit him. 

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I was disappointed in this. I thought after Moonlight that Jenkins was a modest talent who might become more didactic and less interesting in response to premature acclaim. Unfortunately, it looks as though things are unfolding on schedule. Scene after scene is dragged out into inertia; an awkward voice-over narration never jells; the New York of the '70s is unconvincingly scrubbed down and prettified; the weakest performance in the ensemble (KiKi Layne's Tish) occupies the center of the film; and except for the early scene with the two families and Sharon's doomed Puerto Rico expedition, the compelling parts of the story are prehistory, offscreen, or only lightly touched upon.

There was a good film in this novel, and I don't think this adaptation locates it. It is not a long movie, really, but it doesn't use the time wisely. In that respect, it reminds me of Jeff Nichols's Loving two years ago, although Jenkins's movie at least sets scenes with visual style. At some point in the second half, I became more concerned with my own liberation than with the characters'. It's two hours of glacial progress toward either "Mmm-hmm" or "Shame for them."

Edited by Simon Boccanegra
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I finally got to see this tonight, and I think I need to read the novel.  I suspect quite a lot was omitted for time (even though it was a long movie).

Agreed that Regina King and Stephan James were the standouts.

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This was a really moving story for me, and while it was a little slow at times, I was very invested in the story and its characters. What Jenkins does that I love is how he can take this smaller moments and these people that are so often ignored in media and make these moments and their stories just as epic and artistic as any big drama about kings and queens and presidents and such. 

 While I thought all of the actors were great, the real stars to me were Regina King and the soundtrack. 

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Finally getting the Oscar films, and even though this failed to get Best Picture, I'm glad I got to see this!

While not quite as great as Moonlight, I still loved it and didn't mind some of the slowness, since I just found myself invested in these characters, the performances, and the world they were in.  At this point, it is safe to say that I just really enjoy how Barry Jenkins makes films, and he is someone I will automatically watch whatever he puts out.  I though it was beautiful to watch, and it really made me get the sense of what it was likely like back then.  The music was great as well, as was the cinematography.

Definitely had a great cast as well.  While I can understand the complaints about KiKi Layne being stiff at times, I thought she did a fine job showing Tish's almost childlike innocence at first, and then slowly becoming more world-wary the more the film went on, and the more she saw how unfair life was.  Stephan James was great as Fonny, and I thought he payed off KiKi well, and might have helped negate some of the weaknesses she possibly has (although, she'll hopefully continue to grow as an actress.)  Overall, they were able to make me be invested in this relationship, and that alone is a success in my book.

As for the supporting cast, I loved seeing Colman Domingo here, because even though I finally had enough of Fear the Walking Dead (really, I finally dropped all the Walking Deads), he was/is fantastic on that show, and I thought he was great here as well.  Took me a few good minutes to place Michael Beach with that wig, but he was great too.  Brian Tyree Henry crushed it in his two or three scenes (man, he had a hell of a year with this, Widows, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.)  Also all of the unexpected appearances like Emily Rios, Diego Luna, and Pedro Freaking Pascal in particular got a "Holy shit, it's Pedro Pascal!" from me.  And, of course, Regina King, who was awesome and I will certainly be down with her getting an Oscar to go with her Emmys.

I've actually never read the book before, so I do want to check it out and see what was change or left out.

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After thinking about this some more, I'm a little confused about the timeline. 

They found the loft and had the run-in with the rat-bastard cop on the same night the baby was conceived, right?

But when the other dude, the alibi (whose name escapes me), was over for dinner, Fonny talked like they hadn't found a loft yet.  So the rape must have occurred that night, yes?  Was Fonny arrested the same night as the rape?  I thought Tish, when narrating, said that the cop came to their place to arrest Fonny.  And if Fonny gave their soon-to-be address to the rat-bastard cop, how did the cop find him in the other place? 

Maybe it's clearer in the book.

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On 2/13/2019 at 1:49 PM, Browncoat said:

After thinking about this some more, I'm a little confused about the timeline. 

They found the loft and had the run-in with the rat-bastard cop on the same night the baby was conceived, right?

But when the other dude, the alibi (whose name escapes me), was over for dinner, Fonny talked like they hadn't found a loft yet.  So the rape must have occurred that night, yes?  Was Fonny arrested the same night as the rape?  I thought Tish, when narrating, said that the cop came to their place to arrest Fonny.  And if Fonny gave their soon-to-be address to the rat-bastard cop, how did the cop find him in the other place? 

Maybe it's clearer in the book.

Fonny gave the cop his current address to justify why he was in the neighborhood. The cop arrested him in his home, the same night his old friend (the heavy set man) was over for dinner. Fonny and Trish were coming back from looking at the loft but that’s the extent the loft had to do with the storyline (in a practical aspect, it represented hope and a new future). 

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So:

1.  They find the loft, meet rat-bastard, tell rat-bastard they live in the loft's neighborhood (Banks St), go back home (far away from Banks street per the narration/map) and make the baby.

2. The next day?  Days later?  Fonny runs into old buddy (in the daylight hours) and they go back home (far away from Banks St according to the narration and map) and have dinner.  Fonny complains to old buddy that they can't find a loft -- that they can't find anyone who'll rent to both of them (or really, him).

3.  The rape occurs the night Fonny and old buddy are hanging out at home (far from Banks street, and rat-bastard supposedly chases Fonny from Banks Street to their current address and arrests him there.

Why did Fonny imply they hadn't found a loft yet when talking to old buddy (or did I miss where he did?), and how did rat-bastard know Fonny's actual address?  All Fonny even said to rat-bastard was "Banks Street" -- no number or anything. 

I'm going to read the book, and hope the timeline is clearer. 

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On 2/15/2019 at 7:15 AM, Browncoat said:

So:

1.  They find the loft, meet rat-bastard, tell rat-bastard they live in the loft's neighborhood (Banks St), go back home (far away from Banks street per the narration/map) and make the baby.

2. The next day?  Days later?  Fonny runs into old buddy (in the daylight hours) and they go back home (far away from Banks St according to the narration and map) and have dinner.  Fonny complains to old buddy that they can't find a loft -- that they can't find anyone who'll rent to both of them (or really, him).

3.  The rape occurs the night Fonny and old buddy are hanging out at home (far from Banks street, and rat-bastard supposedly chases Fonny from Banks Street to their current address and arrests him there.

Why did Fonny imply they hadn't found a loft yet when talking to old buddy (or did I miss where he did?), and how did rat-bastard know Fonny's actual address?  All Fonny even said to rat-bastard was "Banks Street" -- no number or anything. 

I'm going to read the book, and hope the timeline is clearer. 

The way I interpreted it is there was more than one night that Fonny and his friend hang out. That first night isn't THE night. For two reasons. One, there a moment where she's serving dinner and he jokes about her cooking, which implied it wasn't the first visit because they hadn't met previously. Second, they don't have the loft yet. It made sense to me that they started hanging out and the arrest happens some time later. But dang every second of that first night hang I was holding my breath. Oof.

How the cop knew where to find them kept tugging at me. Did he follow Fonny? Look him up? He was obviously motivated to go after Fonny, so I'd buy that he dug around and found out his name/address for use when it suited him.

One thing I was curious about, though: They never even hint that the cop framed him. Nothing like that is ever spoken, only shown in a single scene. Which I think is an interesting narrative choice by Baldwin -- he avoids giving the arrest/incarceration a singular cause. All of this is systemic. This also maps to the non-explanation of how the cop finds him. It doesn't matter how or why, it just happens because the system is rigged.

OTOH, it did make me wonder if the book, which I haven't read, absolutely confirms it was indeed the same cop. I assume it does, but without any dialogue it felt like it could be implied but not stated outright.

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