How Barry Jenkins Crafts Style
If you’re not hyped for “If Beale Street Could Talk,” what are you doing with your life?
Welcome to Flashback Fandor! Our staff of movie scientists have dug through our Library-of-Congress-sized archives to unearth our best (and still topical) videos and articles.
The first trailer for If Beale Street Could Talk dropped today, and it exudes every stylistic tic that has thus far defined Barry Jenkins’s career—a filmography that includes the two feature films Medicine for Melancholy and Moonlight. That latter film, a masterpiece by all accounts, earned Jenkins three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. But as Jenkins cements his status as an all-time great filmmaker, it’s time to revisit his early work, which consists of fiction and non-fiction shorts. They’re replete with the styles and sensibilities that resonate in his feature-length films, including Beale Street.
As Jenkins roams around from work to work, his style fluctuates: Sometimes the palette is utterly monochrome; other times, it’s lush with color. Some of his editing schemes lean into lyricism, while in other instances his construction is purely observational, even clinical. However, in nearly all of Jenkins's films, his camera seems to float about in space, as if undecided on where to focus. Throughout these disparate short pieces, a tender gaze consistently shapes and orders the films’s characters and their predicaments. Always, the eye is curious. The result is a style that wholly distinguishes Jenkins among his contemporaries.
Watch Now: The short films of Barry Jenkins.