‘Eighth Grade’ Is Brilliantly Real and A Must-See

By Julia Wilson, Edited by Anthony Peyton

Eighth Grade follows the awkward and lonely Kayla as she tries to make her way through the eighth grade. Kayla wants what anyone wants which is acceptance from her peers. The film is framed with videos that Kayla makes for YouTube. These videos consist of Kayla giving advice on topics such as how to be yourself and how to be confident, and play as Kayla is trying to do those things herself.

The film revolves a lot around the internet, as most of our lives do these days. But the use of technology is not overdone and out of touch as it is in many films and TV shows, instead it serves to show the place technology holds in Kayla’s life and how it contributes to the anxiety and nervousness she experiences.

My favorite thing about this film was how real it was. From the panic Kayla faces as she enters a pool party, to her conversations with her dad at the dinner table I related to all of it. I literally felt as though I was transported back in time to when I was that age.

For me, however, this film isn’t just relatable to eighth grade me, but to current me as well. Writer and director Bo Burnham did a masterful job creating the stress and anxiety many people face daily through the story of an eighth grader, which is a stressful age for anybody to be. Also, all the questions Kayla faces, such as how to be yourself, are struggles that any age can relate to.

One of the reasons Kayla’s feelings came through so well was through the choice to focus the camera mainly on Kayla’s face during anxiety inducing situations. This happens at one point during the pool party where the camera is entirely focused on Kayla’s face although you can hear a fight happening in the background. Another instance of this is when Kayla is in the car with her dad and is telling him to “stop looking like that”. Instead of panning over to the dad’s face to see what Kayla is talking about, the camera focuses on Kayla so that we can see the dozens of emotions going through her head through her facial expressions.

On that topic, I can’t talk about the emotion the audience gets from Kayla without discussing Elsie Fisher’s acting. She pulls off this role phenomenally. In most films about kids this age they are so out of touch and the kids don’t seem genuine, but that is not the case at all in this film. Fisher’s slight eye movements and the way she smiles and nods as her character tries to fit in really sell the realness of the film and how relatable it is.

Not only is this film relatable, but it is also funny. Burnham does an amazing job placing humor so effortlessly throughout the film simply through everyday actions that we all can relate to.

Honestly, I must applaud Burnham for making perhaps the most relatable and real movie about growing up that I have ever seen. Eighth Grade will have you laughing, crying, and saying, “wow I didn’t know other people did that”.


My Rating: 99%

Acting: 4/4

Cinematography: 3.9/4

Story: 4/4

Enjoyability: 3.9/4

 

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The Mesmerizing, Grace-filled ‘Moonlight’

By Therese Gardner, Edited by Olivia Norwood

Surprise! The film for this Time Warp Tuesday happens to be the Oscar award-winning film ‘Moonlight’. That’s goes without saying, this happens to come after the La La Land review from two weeks prior, which is suggestive of La La Land accidentally being announced as winner for Best Picture. A moment that would not soon be forgotten in Oscar history.

Considering Moonlight won Best Picture, it is highly likely that many are aware of this groundbreaking film. For those who have not yet heard of this film or have chosen not to see it, I highly recommend for all to do so.

Based on the unpublished play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, by Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight chronicles separate stages in the life of a young, gay black man, Chiron, growing up in Miami, Florida. Each chapter displayed throughout the film is portrayed by separate actors and are presented as his youth (Little), adolescence (Chiron), and early adult life (Black). As a coming-of-age film, written and directed by Barry Jenkins starring Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, and Janelle Monae among others is a beautiful presentation of what it is like to be a young, black man growing up in America. Another interesting piece of this film relates Jenkins and McCraney, as the story is a mere reflection of specific moments within each of their lives as they grew up in Miami.

Within the first chapter, Juan finds Chiron, or Little, hiding from a group of bullies and allows him to spend the night at his place where Janelle Monae as Teresa, the girlfriend of Juan, is introduced. Despite Chiron returning to his mother, Juan and Chiron continue to spend time together and eventually Chiron admits he hates his mother. This stage in Chiron’s life is patchy and marked by Little being taunted for being ‘different’ in the eyes of his classmates. As a teenager, Chiron continues to struggle with being bullied and understanding who he is. Once Chiron reaches adulthood he goes by the nickname ‘Black’ and revisualizes previous wet dreams he had of one of his earlier classmates, Kevin. He returns to Miami to visit his mother and then reunites with Kevin. The two embrace one another as Chiron recalls standing on the beach in the moonlight.

Throughout the film, there are many aesthetically pleasing and simply breathtaking moments in which one cannot help but be in awe of the brilliant minds behind this masterpiece. From the beginning, it is clear that this is no ordinary film with a cliche meaning. It goes far beyond surface level in order to better display the challenges faced growing up in America as a black, gay child.

One of the most memorable moments in Moonlight is during the beach scene. It is raw and real, it solidifies the bond between Chiron and Juan, performed by Mahershala Ali, whom becomes a father figure for Chiron. During this scene, Chiron and Juan are seen playing in the water and then found sitting by the waves overlooking the beach when Juan tells Chiron, “at some point you gonna have to decide who you want to be, you can’t let somebody else make that decision for you.” Although a seemingly insignificant moment to many, this moment details concisely an important message within this film. It signifies the journey Chiron is on for the entirety of the film, as he is becoming who he is meant to be and creating his own path in life all while grappling with the difficulties of growing up.

Moonlight is a monumental film in that in winning Best Picture, it has now become the first film with an all-black cast and the first LBGT film to ever win Best Picture. It’s quite sad that it’s taken this long to do so, and alludes to the notion that while we have made a lot of progress, we still have so much more to make.