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Roma: Return of the Auteur

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Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma is easy on the eyes yet sometimes hard to watch, which is a credit to the Director and that connection he creates between viewer and heroine – in this case Cleo, the family maid and emotional heartbeat of the film. We love and sympathize with Cleo immediately. There’s no way she’s making it to the end unscathed.

Cleo is part of the family yet could be fired any minute for, say, not cleaning up after the dog the day Dad leaves the family forever. That uneasy precipice between acceptance and utility has made her a warrior that handles each situation with a compassion lacking in the noxious men around her.  She’s the Marge Gundersen of Mexico City – insofar as she spends much of the film pregnant, making all the right moves within a world where the options are questionable.

Cuarón does more with silence than most do with tons of exposition and editing. There’s a reason he’s the only person to be nominated for Best Director and Best Cinematographer in the same year.

Like some of the 1969 sci-fi movie Marooned referenced within the film, Roma moves at a snail’s pace – allowing the story to seep into being rather than seem forced upon you. Underlying anxieties of race and toxic masculinity bubble beneath the surface, tethering the zeitgeist of 1971 Mexico City to the here and now.

What Yalitza Aparicio brings to the role of Cleo is astounding. She has an unassuming charm yet commands the screen. A masterfully presented scene of Cleo in labor does something few films ever do: get me to suspend my disbelief. I’m always hyper-aware that there’s a sound guy holding a boom mic off camera and a slew of crew itching for craft services. It’s a curse that keeps me from enjoying movies like most folks do. But there are moments in Roma when I forgot I was watching people pretend. It’s a great trick if you can pull it off, and Roma does so with grace.

Roma (2018) 2h 15min | Drama | 21 November 2018 (USA) Summary: A year in the life of a middle-class family's maid in Mexico City in the early 1970s.
Countries: Mexico, USALanguages: Spanish, North American Indian, English, Norwegian, Japanese, German, French

Using a host of pen names, Eric Curran has been blogging in one form or another for well over 10 years. He's a partner at One Track Mine, and also runs the blog Jealous Foodies.

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Daniel Ortiz Rants On: Us

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A family’s serenity turns to chaos when a group of doppelgängers begins to terrorize them.20190324_073731

Rarely do I prepare myself to see a film, but Jordan Peele’Us is one of those rare movies I didn’t need to see more than one trailer for, nor did I need the hype of other critics. I also wanted to judge this film off its own merit rather than comparing it to his freshman standout, Get Out (which made my #1 film of 2017). Comparisons will be made, but I’ll try to keep them as minimal as possible.

The stand out feature is that this film is beautifully shot. The cinematography of this movie adapts to its environment seamlessly whether it’s a vibrant beach scene or a dark setting where just enough of the characters faces needs to be made out.

Also, I thought Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide’s doppelganger, Red was a terrifying character. Everything from her awkward pantomimes to her unhinged voice was the thing of nightmares.

Now, there were a few (lots of) issues I did have with the film. I left the theater with more frustrating questions than fulfilling answers. It felt like too many ideas where in the plot and too much symbolism was forcefully wedged in to satisfy the expectations of the Get Out fans, but it came out as a jumbled mess of psychology that I didn’t want to spend my viewing time deciphering.

A lot of the horror that was built up for this film was also very deflating as the Wilson family was spared instant death and provided a background story by their doppleganger’s while others were swiftly killed before they knew what hit them. Halfway through the film, you pretty much knew they were safe from any death or violence which takes away all tension as a viewer.

The connection between the characters and their dopplegangers wasn’t fleshed out enough. Some things came off as inconsistent and driven for plot convenience, rather than a solution. I didn’t get many of the motivations and the decisions that drove the actions of our protagonists. I didn’t understand why the dopplegangers wore red jumpsuits and just one fingerless driving glove. The one symbolism I understood was the scissors, which if you look at the handle on the poster, looks like mirrored heads. This was the weapon used to cut the connection between themselves and their other half. Otherwise, I may need to see some other folks interpretations of the film.

Also, the editing was not good. There were scenes that were waaaay too long and could’ve used a few chops. The opening credit scene reminded me of an old horror movie from the 70’s (think the Amityville Horror ’79) where the title card has nothing going on, and as a viewer I felt stuck looking at a bunch of rabbits for what I assume was 3 minutes just waiting for the movie to get started.

Overall Grade: C-

There’s just too many questions, and too many inconsistencies to feel comfortable giving it anything higher. Maybe in the upcoming weeks certain plot revelations might come to fruition, but I’m not looking for Kubrick levels of hidden meaning, and this is not Kubrick-esque. I’ll chalk this up to a sophomore slump by Peele and the pressures of following up to such an acclaimed film. I just got hints of M. Night Shyamalan in this movie, meaning a Director/Writer who is owning a genre and gets type-casted to that medium. Let’s hope Jordan Peele doesn’t head down that same road.

Us (2019) 1h 56min | Horror, Thriller | 22 March 2019 (USA) Summary: A family's serenity turns to chaos when a group of doppelgängers begins to terrorize them.
Countries: USALanguages: English

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5 Geek Chic Trailers for Your 4K TV

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These luscious 4K trailers are in zippy 60fps for you VFX aficionados. 

Alita: Battle Angel 

Robert Rodriguez directs James Cameron‘s script melding state of the art effects with live action. We’ve come a long way since Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Last stand-alone Godzilla movie before he kicks King Kong‘s ass in 2020. Epic visual effects create a scale worthy of your 4K TV.

Hellboy 

This reboot has big red shoes to fill.

Men in Black 4

I admit the best thing about this trailer is seeing Tessa Thompson in high resolution. Am I allowed to say that? #toolate

Avengers: Endgame

They don’t give a lot away in the new Avengers trailer, but it sure looks purty.

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White Right: Meeting the Enemy

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Deeyah Khan puts herself in real jeopardy in White Right: Meeting the Enemy, confronting the whitest rightest supremacists and Neo-Nazis with the oldest trick in the book; she becomes their first friend of color. No shit. You’ll be amazed as Deeyah proves racism is born from miseducation and a total lack of experience.  Sure, not everyone becomes a believer in the end, but you sure will.

 

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