Moonlight by Barry Jenkins is a compelling and emotional roller coaster from beginning to end. In the opening shot of the film, the audience sees Juan, a drug dealer to the mother of main character Little approach another drug dealer. In this scene the audience is exposed to the environment, a poor neighborhood where drug dealing is very common. The interaction between Juan and the drug dealer working for him involves slang, cursing, and the ‘n’ word which portrays the message of having to mask your true emotions to obtain respect. This message is further shown once the main character Little is seen being bullied for being an outcast. The scene shows Little as a vulnerable kid not comfortable in his environment, as he is seen crying and hiding in one of Juan’s drug houses. Juan and Little meet and Juan portrays the father archetype of Little’s childhood as Juan takes him out to eat, teaches him how to swim, and allows him to stay in his home. The audience notices through Juan and Little’s relationship, that Juan isn’t a bad man. Juan has emotions just like Little, and this allows for the audience to develop a deeper connection with Juan and Little. The film progresses and stage two is presented. Little now goes by the name Chiron and is seen as a teenager in High School. The way Chiron carries himself in terms of body posture, facial expressions and speech is a continuation of his discomfort in his environment. We see that he is not physically and emotionally safe in his house or school as his mother poses a threat to him in his home, and the bullies pose a threat to him in his school. In this stage, there is a pivotal moment set in the scene where Chiron is with Kevin on the beach. The beach is a symbol of freedom for Chiron, since the beach is a place of comfort and happiness. This sets the interaction between Chiron and Kevin where they both let down their barriers and open up to each other about their emotions. This leads to an intimate moment, which is a complete liberation for Chiron as he doesn’t have to hide his emotions. Jenkins’ message of masking your emotions is challenged through the portrayals of Chiron’s and Juan’s characters.
BEEP BEEP BEEP. The alarm goes off, on a partly cloudy day in Michigan. They grumble in the process of getting out of bed. That’s Kiki and Corey you’re hearing.
We can see this story unfold from both sides. Kiki is the bright, interactive older sister, and Corey is the rather reserved, quiet but still worthy, younger brother. Their family is well known around the community, and their mother and father live a higher-class life than most, especially for these blacks. Everything seems peachy keen, right? Wrong. Why? There’s only one problem. Corey is depressed. And you, you would think someone like Corey would be happy, on the road to victory, onward to become the male version of his sister, with good grades and all. But the real truth is, Corey’s been depressed since the start of high school. His best friend from the past, Sampson, had died in a terrible bike accident about three years ago, right before they were both graduating from Junior High, and since that tragedy, Corey has never been the same. Sure, currently he gets the good grades, acts like everything is ok, masking his feelings and learning to adjust to having to mask them consistently on a daily basis. But it’s been so long, and he’s done keeping everything bottled up inside. He’s planned to see Sampson again.
“We’re going to be late!” I hear my sister’s voice.
She’s always on my tail but I know it’s only for my benefit. Sometimes I’m just like, “who cares? I’ll tell her I’m sick” so I can stay in bed. Other times, I get the strength to get out of bed and find some clothes to wear. And it’s not like I have this weird sense of style, either. I can throw something on and have someone tell me that I look handsome. Isn’t that something, ha. I mean, today is definitely not my day, and if it gets any worse, I feel that today is going to end up being the day. The last day, if you know what I mean. I never felt like that day would come, as I’ve said the same thing for numerous amounts of bad days. So in other words, when I say “this is the day, the last day” I really mean “it’s the day to die”. I hope I dumbed it down well enough for you. And if you can hear it in my sarcasm, yeah. Im pissed off, too. I don’t like school anymore, all these early bird wake-ups five days a week. We don’t go to private school —we’re not that rich where we actually get to sleep away and get special books and crap — but at the least we get the right education. n the past, my fears were, that if I stepped out the door, I’d never return through it. SO I would excuse myself to stay home to keep myself from ending it. But today, I don’t care. Kill me, world. Kill me. Once I leave for class today, I’m not coming back. Not coming back to school, to home, to life. Do I care what Mom thinks? No. Do I care what Dad thinks? Eh..it’s complicated.What could I possibly do to change how I’m feeling? Nothing. Do I need some help? Before it’s too late? Probably, but it’s probably too late. Despite being successful, he didn’t feel like a father. He felt more like an uncle, or a cousin. We never had that real dad-son bond, hence the actual bonding. He loves me, sure, but again. Like I said, I have the right to say “complicated.” My lack of a relationship might just be my fault, but I don’t want to get into that now. This is about the story of my death. Not the story “My Father and Me”. I mean, what else is there for me? What else is there to do? All it is for me — heck, for all of us, you could say — is wake up, eat, go to school, go home, sleep, repeat. It’s just a casual routine that I feel like I’m forced to abide by, with no direct option to leave such a life of mine behind. And I know I could go into further detail on my day, like what I had for lunch or what clothes I wore that day, but as usual, I choose not to. There isn’t much to my life as is, anyway. But heed my warning if you choose to read on: my death ends up being pretty instantaneous, so be prepared for a short day and a somewhat short story.
A perk of school-and probably the only one-is the car ride. My sister can drive, yes, and she takes us to school, acting like parent #3. I never really wanted kids, but since she never really had a boyfriend I don’t see that whole reality of parenthood really happening in the future. If anything, you could say that was absolutely a joke. So I’m there. We only have seven periods, 1 hr. 15 minutes of my life, every day. Then we leave. Then we sleep. Then we repeat. With seniors, they have more free time than average because most of them have finished up with mandatory classes. That being said, Kiki drops me off at the main entrance and drives away to the secondary school entrance with her friends to do annoying girl stuff for about two hours. She doesn’t have a first period, so getting to school on time doesn’t really matter. It’s the opportunity to see lovely buddies that keeps her coming early. Beats being late for 2nd period by coming on the dot (right when it’s 8:59) too, I guess.
I have Psychology at 8am, which is actually the best class of the day (I have a 4-class schedule). My best friend Jina is in this class with me. She was my second best friend in the whole world, besides Sampson before…We weren’t a trio, because it was actually her that approached me. “Can you help me with this formula?” she asked me in Trigonometry, 4th period. I would be telling her which equation goes where, how to formulate the answer and the steps if we had to create problems. I don’t get bad grades, you know. I’m a smart cookie. We bonded pretty quickly, and she liked my style (physically, clothing wise and personality wise, thank you). In the past when it was the three of us, I’d hang out with Sampson most of the time, and Jina would be using up my time not spent with Sampson. Nothing wrong with that, right? From the slang I hear these days, I WOULD consider what I’m doing as “bros before hoes”, but that’s disrespectful. Jina was never a hoe to me. Not a slut. Not the object you use to dig in the ground. She was a girl. A girl I really liked. I was onto her the week after we met, and instead of looking like a total jackass and moving too fast, I took the scenic route; I took the “get to know this girl or you’re never getting any” route. After all, most smart girls in good schools won’t date, screw, or even look at a total asshole. And trust me, you’ll know exactly why she’s so important in my suicide story much later. FYI, it’s not because she’s practically my only real friend right now, because I could probably make just about any kind of person a friend of mine. Even another girl. Problem is, she was the only girl I wanted right now.
So we discuss 1st period and 4th period and I decide to tell her how I really feel after school. I have it all planned out: I ask Kiki if I can borrow the car (we need the privacy). She says yes, she takes the bus or something. She could be running home for all I care. I drive Jina to her place, and we make small talk. I lead the conversation into my confession before I ask if she wanted to go out with me. I get a yes, I’m good to go- at least for now, and all is resolved. If not, then it’ll probably be curtains for me, depending on how hard the heartbreak becomes. But we don’t know much it will until we try, right? But before we get on to that, I just say:
“Doing anything after school? Need any homework help, Jiji?”
“You know I get antsy when I get called that, cuckoo clock. Just cause your sister is Kiki. Not funny, smh.” I just hope I didn’t agitate her after that.”But no, I’m not. You?
“Home. I have a bunch of work. Might shoot some hoops afterward.”
It’s been stressful in Psychology, eh?” Wanted to mention a class she didn’t hate.
“I suppose. I’m good in grades with everything except damn trig.”
“The lecture was pretty informative.”
“And the mini-quiz was easy, too.”
(THESE RECOLLECTIONS AND QUOTING OF WHAT WAS DONE IN PSYCHOLOGY ARE ACTUALLY TRUE RECOUNTS OF WHAT I DID, AS THE AUTHOR, IN CRITICAL THINKING CLASS. WE ACTUALLY HAD A GOOD LESSON AND MINI QUIZ)
“I like Psychology.”
“I like anything and everything that’s not Trig.”
“I can work with that.” So far, so good.
SO things were quiet in the car for a while. Luckily she lived far from me and my family, so I had plenty of time to get her buttered up for that time.
“How’s the family?
I don’t know… my dad’s thinking of moving with some of the siblings. Mom needs a bit of a break; 6 has been hard to handle.”
“I love both of them, but… I don’t think their marriage will make it. I just want my father to be okay on his own with my younger sisters.”
“Sounds reasonable. It has been a long time, see.”
“For what? ‘
Asking. Most other kids know about my parents and kind of get bad vibes from how they treat each other. They don’t have a particularly golden reputation like your parents do.”
“But I ignore their bickering. I just make sure my siblings are safe, teaching them to ignore Mom and dad. They don’t dwell on a broken family, but..”
“Yeah. My mom and dad are… fine. But Kiki just loves to annoy me as ms. alarm clock this morning, and I end up cranky.”
“Think of things this way: If you don’t go to school with her, you’re car-less (get it?)! You won’t get a free car ride to school without your sister, will you?”
You have a good point there. Touche.
“But I’ve already figured out what you’re doing, “
The car gets silent. “Eh.. what?
“C’mon. Don’t play dumb. I actually find what you’re doing humorous.
I act confused, but worried.”What am I doing?”
“You’re buttering me up for something, aren’t you? Want to tell me something important? Something I”ll have some huge reaction to?”
Shoot. I’ve been caught. The only upside to hearing her plan was that she didn’t know what all that small talk was for, or why waht I was wanting to ask her. So I wasn’t out of the woods yet. SO instead of lying and risking the whole plan to hide my tracks, I said,
“Something where I’m just a little scared or your reaction…of it being a bad one…”
“Tell me! It can’t be that bad! If it’s to me or about something else, I can take it.”
“Sure you won’t be too shocked?”
“Yup. You’re my best bud.”
“Well, I know that as much as you like Psychology… isn’t nearly as long as I’ve liked you these past 3 years.”
“What do you mean?”
“I really like you Jina. Straight up.You’re my best friend but, I’ve wanted you as more than that. Something that can become more. You make me smile in ways no one else could, you have a great personality… I could go on and on. And you come from a rougher place than me, family-wise. You’re strong and you handle the biggest of challenges, including your large family. You are capable of so many things even when you think you aren’t and you’ve always been so…”
“Woah woah woah! Let’s slow down a minute. Are you…serious? Look, I know it’s been tough for you, losing Sampson and all, but there’s no need to go on some random rant about how you have someone in your life now that’ll make you feel loved. Trust and believe me, Corey. I’ll always be here for you- just… not in that way. You understand, right?”
“Oh….ok then…Of course…what was I saying? (starts laughing) I shouldn’t be rambling on to one of my few supporters like you about being in love with you, heh.. Anyway, I just remembered I’ve got somewhere to go right now… real important for next class. Just forget what I said, okay? It’s no big deal if you don’t feel the same.”
“Wait, Corey. Are you okay? I want to make sure you’re okay. We’re still best buds, are we not? I’m pretending you never even asked!”
“Like I said, I’ve got to go. I’ll see you later.”
Later on in the evening…Everyone’s home in time for supper. Corey is still overthinking the events that occurred at school, confused about what he should really do now. He said what he planned on doing if things didn’t turn out the way he wanted, which to him wasn’t that much to ask..
I can’t believe it…has it really come down to this? Where do I go from here? Nobody loves me…
Corey walks downstairs, telling everyone he knows who is at the table for dinner, “I’m going outside by the lake. I’m going to take a walk before it gets too dark.
His mother replies, “Okay, Corey. Be careful. Your sister will be outside for you to let you know dinner’s ready.” She was familiar with her son’s nightly evening walks around the lake they lived near. Kiki gave Corey a bit of the evil eye, but agreed to the fetching regardless, as she continued to set the table. Her worry for Corey was just fierce, was all.
So Corey just started walking towards the lake, thinking that death by drowning would be the best way to end it all. “I never go against my word,” were his last words as he draws himself closer to the lake site. Then, as he reaches the lakewater, he takes a moment to stare at what could be the port to his untimely death. Was this the time to reconsider? Was he still so intent on doing it, still so doomed, that he planned on going against God’s reassuring words, telling him not to do it? God was clearly the one who made him stop and stare into that lake, giving him the chance to refrain from an unnecessary death. Unfortunately, in a worldly mindset that was against God’s words and only one with the devil (who, according to the bible, would be the kind of spirit or demon to provoke and promote suicide) he still manages to throw himself in, and in the worst way to boot, into the water, making his drowning death almost instantaneous. If he hadn’t died from drowning, he probably would’ve shamefully, with a broken heart, died from the contaminants in the water.
About 15 minutes later, Kiki comes outside to call Corey in. “Hey hot shot! It’s suppertime, come back inside.” No answer. “Corey?” Still no answer. Kiki starts to freak out, checking further outside the door, checking the streets. “I’m going to check the lake, mom. I’ll be right back.” She tells her mother. When she reaches the lake, she is mortified from what she sees. But it’s already too late. Of course, however, she tells the family what she saw at the lake, and they contemplate through dinnertime, and the remainder of the night, what went wrong. Everything seemed fine, yet everyone was left so confused after Corey’s death. He didn’t even seem different when he arrived home, so not even Kiki knew why what happened that night happened. Was something wrong with him in the head? If there was, why didn’t he tell anyone? Corey wasn’t like that and Kiki knew it. The whole incident was a shame for the family, and the friends that eventually learned of Cory’s suicide.
Basically everyone in the family was affected by Corey’s death, and Kiki took the hardest hit because she felt like she was responsible for keeping him safe that night, for watching him, something she clearly felt like she didn’t do. She wasn’t the same superstar she knew in the past without Corey, and while she had the rest of her family and friends around to console her, it never felt the same to her without Corey. The mother and father were, of course, devastated, but fought hard to keep the family situation together; most of their time was spent on Kiki in attempts to make her feel better, but unfortunately they continued coming to little aid. They were all suffering mentally and emotionally, as a family, over something that couldn’t have been avoided. It’s not like they were a bad family that didn’t love Corey, it was just the fact that they weren’t the people he wanted to love him the way he wanted to be loved, which was in a way what meant more to Corey than family love. Jina didn’t know how to feel after learning of Corey’s death, and while she didn’t take the situation lightly, she did feel like she had some part in this for some reason. She just didn’t know what she could’ve done or said to make whatever happen not happen. Corey also had several other friends at school who sympathized with the family in consolement, understanding that loss, especially of a child or sibling, is hard to deal with; especially when no one knows why the death even occurred. It was quite a tale to tell, and the worst part? A lot of it involved questions for the family that were never fully answered.
Several days later…
Kiki sees Jina at school, and wishes to address the situation, face to face, because she was actually the last person, aside from his family, that Corey saw before his suicide.
Kiki starts off, “ Hey.”
“Oh…hey. Look, I’m sorry for what you’ve been dealing with and…”
“So you’ve heard about my struggles? About Corey?”
“Um, yeah… That’s what I was talking about.”
“Did you have anything to do with it, you think?”
“Wha? Me? Nah.”
“Hm. I see.”
There is an awkward silence in the air.
“I’ll see you around, then.”
“Yeah… you too.”
As Kiki and Jina part ways, Jina is left in fact with questions, asking herself in the process of getting to her next class, “why was Kiki acting so strange? Why did Kiki ask her what she asked her? Why did Corey really commit suicide? Kill himself? Was it because of her rejection?” She did not want to believe the worst, but the questions and answers were rolling around her mind after the encounter, and she felt bad about it but didn’t know how to approach it. She decided to leave the situation alone, because it wasn’t her family grieving over the loss as much as his. Kiki was left with no answers, but the way Jina was acting around her only confirmed her suspicions: it wasn’t intentional, but Jina definitely had some influence over Corey before his death, provoking him in some way into suicide.
This month, our very own Film Teen Reviewers and Critics (TRaC) hosted the Strangers in a Strange Land Edition. All the characters found themselves adapting to novel circumstances and environments.
Here were the choices:
And the winner was…
10 Things I Hate About You
1999‧ 1h 37m
Director: Gil Junger
Stars: Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
FINAL RATING: 7 out of 8 slices
Here’s what the teen audience had to say…
Every PaaM night, we ask our teens to give us their honest reviews of the winning movie. We then select voices that capture the range of opinions and critiques. Read what Cianna (TRaC Star), Zuri (The Return PaaMers), Madison (Reigning PaaM Reviewer), and one shy PaaMer thought about this feel good 90s flick.
Choose three words to describe this movie.
Cianna: INTERESTING, UNIQUE, LOVELY
Anonymous: INTERESTING, PREDICTABLE, ENTERTAINING
Zuri: CORNY, KINDA FUNNY, INTERESTING
Madison: CHEESY in all the right ways, A LOVE LETTER to the 90s, ROMANTICALLY ADORABLE
What was your favorite scene? Bonus: Why? SPOILER ALERT!
Cianna: The punching scene at prom.
Anonymous: The end when Kat got the guitar.
Zuri: When Joey got punched.
Madison: Ahh! My favorite scene was when Kat read her poem in class and it was totally @ Patrick. Why? Because it was so sad and cute and even made the badass Patrick cry!
Would you recommend this to a friend? Why or why not?
Cianna: Yes, it’s very entertaining.
Anonymous: Yes, Pizza and a Movie is a great opportunity for teens.
Zuri: No, I don’t think they would like the movie.
Madison: Yes! it is the perfect movie for people who love the 90s and always dreamed about having a hopelessly adorable teen romance!
Join us for the next FREE Pizza and a Movie!
FRIDAY, JUNE 2ND
How to RSVP for Pizza and a Movie Night:
Seating is limited, so you must lay claim to your seat & slice by selecting “Free Ticket- RSVP HERE” on the Pizza and a Movie event page at https://teens.artsconnection.org/paam/ Fill in your information and you will receive a reminder email the day before the event. Please let us know exactly how many people you’ll be bringing. If you have any questions, feel free to email Briana, Teen Programs Assistant at
PLEASE NOTE: This is a TEENS ONLY event.
“Not my president! Not my president! Love trumps hate! Love trumps hate!”
“Hey, hey, hey! LISTEN UP FOR A MINUTE!”
My life is just…waking up at dawn and heading to the factories. I’ve worked at the Carrier Air Conditioning factory here in Michigan for 17 years. Everyday, I clock in at 5:30 A.M. to get to work. It’s the only thing I’m good at. I dropped out of school at 16, biggest mistake of my life. I need this job.
Only problem is, Carrier Air Conditioning announced earlier this year that they were moving our factory and our jobs to Mexico.
This is insult to injury, as many immigrants are already taking jobs meant for hard working Americans like me! And this means disaster for my family and my kids. I am certainly getting laid off when the factory closes. My wife relies on disability checks and my father is ill. I cannot lose my job. It seems like this always happens to me and my fellow hard workers – we work our asses off day and night, and then we get thrown under the bus by greedy corporations looking to turn a profit faster and easier. And the government doesn’t do jack shit about it!
“YOU’RE A RACIST!” “BLACK LIVES MATTER!”
HEY! I voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012. He said he was for change, and said he would take care of the middle class, but he didn’t live up to those expectations. I feel like the American people, me included, are at the point where they’ve had it, and this was the last chance. Crooked Hillary would just be an extension of the 8 years of empty promises and pandering we’ve already had. We’re sick of feeling forgotten!
I’m tired of corruption and lies in Washington. I just want a non-politician like Trump. He gets that the country is in bad shape, especially for people like me. Sure, he made mistakes and sometimes he went a little overboard, but the guys I work with related to it. They think he speaks his mind and isn’t “PC” about the illegals and how we need law and order in the inner cities. If we spoke in public as often as he did, we’d make mistakes too. Let’s all give him a break and a chance.
I am very distrustful of our government as we know it today. Democrats, Republicans, they’re all corrupt liars. I know Trump will bring back jobs like mine and restore America to it’s greatest times. We need him! But I’m gonna hold him to all of his promises, that’s for sure.
An elderly woman and a little girl sat across from each other in the musty boarding area at Laguardia airport. The elderly woman was tall and lean, with grey hair pulled back into a bun so tight it almost smoothed out the many wrinkles lining her forehead. She wore a grey cotton turtle neck that completely absorbed her neck, and a pair of grey trousers roughly two shades darker than her grey sneakers; the only part of her outfit that did not look new or freshly cleaned and pressed. The woman also wore a grey expression as she read her book, holding it up below her chin and moving only her cloudy blue eyes back and forth across the dry beigh pages with small black print. She was completely still as she read, breaking her stillness only to lick the tip of her finger in order to turn the pages of her rather boring book. This was no easy task, as the pages were stiff and the spine of the book was as tightly wound as the woman herself. When the woman took a break from her book and glanced up, she saw the little girl sitting across from her. The girl was a normal height and weight for an 8 year old, however as the woman stared at her she thought to herself about how short and chubby she was. What a spoiled little girl. I’m sure her parents feed her nothing but sugar. The woman had never liked children, and didn’t have any of her own.
The little girl sat innocently on a boarding area chair- or rather she lounged in it- for she laid on top of her bent legs while reclining against the cold metal arm of the chair. This was an interesting pose only achievable by a person of her age, not because of superior flexibility but because any normal adult would be too self conscious and self-important to sit in such a manner, however comfortable it may be. The little girl fiddled with a loose string on her knitted green sweater that she continuously wrapped and unwrapped around her index finger. The girl had light brown wavy hair that barely surpassed her chin. Her hair was tucked behind her ears, which were pierced with a pair of bright pink star earrings. The girl’s luggage, which was black and fairly large, was almost entirely covered in shiny dinosaur stickers. Some of the stickers were partially scraped off, reduced to only a thin white piece of material still stuck onto the luggage. From looking at it anyone could assume that the little girl had taken over a parent’s suitcase with multiple sheets of dinosaur stickers, and after a failed attempt to remove them, the parent gave in and turned the suitcase over to the little girl. After thoroughly observing and judging the girl (observing and judging being two of her favorite past times), the woman let out a yawn and reached down for her now-cold coffee that she had placed on the carpeted floor. She sat back upright, took a long sip, and after yawning once again promptly realized that the little girl was gone.
The little girl wandered excitedly down the lane of boutiquess, newsstands and duty-free designer stores. Her brown eyes surveyed each store for things that might interest her or for a potential snack, as the flight was boarding in 5 minutes and she wasn’t sure she would like the food they served on the plane. The little girl had seen the flash drives sold at many tech store she passed littered around her father’s desk at home, yet knew not what they were for or why people needed them. She cringed looking at the Starbucks, remembering the time she unwisely stole a sip of her aunt’s coffee, and then insisted on eating a cookie immediately after to get the bitter taste out of her mouth. Then suddenly she saw something out of the corner of her eye that interested her greatly.
From the next store over, the elderly woman stared at the little girl standing in front of a display of stuffed animals. After she had realized that the little girl had left her seat she went to find her, although not being sure what compelled her to do so. It was probably a mixture of boredom and curiosity. Getting a little closer with out trying to seem obvious, the woman now saw that the girl was fixated on a small toy rabbit. It was a light orange color with floppy ears and looked more realistic than any other of the stuffed animals. The girl stared at it with an incredible intensity that the woman had not expected from someone of her age. She looked at that rabbit not like it was something that she wanted, but something that she needed. Something comforting and fulfilling, even if it was a silly toy rabbit. The woman tried to think of the last thing she had felt that way about. Nothing came to mind.