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'Illuminating "Moonlight"' shows the films that inspired an instant classic

A new series at the Lincoln Center digs into the DNA of one of 2016's best films.
Moonlight

Mahershala Ali plays a dealer who lends a paternal hand to Alex Hibbert's shy kid A24

Illuminating ‘Moonlight’
Through Jan. 9
Film Society of Lincoln Center

No film is an island. Even something as original as “Moonlight” — Barry Jenkins’ acclaimed look at a shy black kid aging into a hard young adult, and one of 2016’s highest grossing indies — bears the imprint of bold movies that inspired it. With “Illuminating ‘Moonlight,’” running at the Lincoln Center through early next week, he lays his cards on the table. The series offers not only Jenkins’ early work, including his first feature — the “Before Sunrise”-y one-night stand romance “Medicine for Melancholy,” from all the way back in 2008 — but also movies by others that helped shape his unique vision.

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These six films span nations, eras and subjects, from the anguished gay love of Wong Kar-wai’s “Happy Together” (1997) to the homoerotic almost-dalliances in Claire Denis’ “Beau Travail” (1999) and Nagisa Oshima’s “Gohatto” (1999). “Moonlight”’s soothing nature interludes owe something to Carlos Reygadas’ “Silent Light” (2007), and the three-story structure is a spiritual cousin to Hou Hsiao-hsien’s “Three Times” (2005). Finally, there’s Charles Burnett’s 1977 “Killer of Sheep,” among the cinema’s greatest studies of poor black American life. Here’s a chance to see the DNA of a movie elegantly unraveled. And it works gangbusters as an excuse to see a number of great films.

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"Illuminating 'Moonlight'" runs from Jan 4 through Jan. 9 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Visit the site for showtimes and tickets.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge
 
 
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