Roma reviews

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Re: Roma reviews

Postby Sabin » Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:37 am

I think there's an interesting conversation to be had about Alfonso Cuaron's relationship with exposition. In Gravity, the dialogue is ham-fisted. In Y Tu Mama Tambien, he darts here and there to provide big picture context. Oddly, Children of Men's dystopian future is always entirely clear.

With Roma, I never knew what to focus on or what mattered or what didn't. Every scene felt like it was conveying about thirty ideas at the same time. Sometimes it was a historical footnote, sometimes it was just something in Cuaron's head he wanted to share. On the surface, Roma is the story of a small person in a big world, but I never felt like I was watching a story. I always felt like I was watching craft and homage. It's a remarkable achievement that absolutely exhausted me. And sometimes it annoyed me. The most charitable I can be is there are intensely moving moments in the film that would have felt earned had he truly been interested in telling Cleo's story. Instead, I felt angry watching this depthless saint-on-earth marched through an orchestrated parade of suffering. I've been assured there are readings of Roma that make the case for why the ending is actually bittersweet and I don't doubt it. Roma is a film that we can attach any readings on. Really it's a series of remarkable moments that Alfonso Cuaron wanted me to see. Watch them individually, and you'd think you were watching the masterpiece of all time. String them together and I wanted a nap.

It's certainly worth watching but I find the breakdown of conversation surrounding this film depressing. If I'm being honest, I'd rather they just give Best Picture to Green Book because at least people can tell you why they love it or why they hate it. It will have won being exactly what it is. After two plus hours of Roma, I still don't feel like I saw it.
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Re: Roma reviews

Postby CalWilliam » Mon Jan 21, 2019 9:31 am

This is a very interesting take on Roma by philosopher Slavoj Žižek.

https://spectator.us/slavoj-zizek-roma-celebrated/
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Re: Roma reviews

Postby dws1982 » Sat Dec 22, 2018 1:57 pm

I've liked Cuaron films in the past while acknowledging that the man is basically a showoff. But fair is fair, and even a showoff, if he finds a project that suits his showoff tendencies, can make a good movie. But I don't think his showoff tendencies suit this film at all. For a movie that's about portraying the ways normal life unfolds, there's so little in the filmmaking that approximates the spontaneity of life. Many scenes and individual shots are beautifully staged, but none ever feel lifelike because it's all so elaborately constructed. It's just way too obsessed with how everything is being shot that nothing real or emotional or complex ever happens. This is undeniably the work of a filmmaker who knows how he wants every scene to play out, and who knows how to get what he wants, but while he's definitely a talented technician, he's not a storyteller--at least not a storyteller of these observational, slice-of-life stories. Hollow movie.

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Re: Roma reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Tue Dec 18, 2018 7:07 am

Ah La Cérémonie. I watched it earlier this year and it still sparkles like the diamond that it is.

As B.J. & Mister Tee said last week, we should start a thread up to discuss Burning - spoilers and all. I did start something only to feel really tired and accidentally deleted the post :cry:

But its a most interesting film on a number of levels and polarising in a good way.
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Re: Roma reviews

Postby Uri » Tue Dec 18, 2018 6:49 am

Precious Doll wrote: Films portraying maids exacting revenge upon their employers were more believable portrayals than the ones presented in Roma. See: The Maids, Sister My Sister & Murderous Maids, though to be fair the focus of those films were the maids, not the petty bourgeois.


I'll add La Cérémonie, but Chabrol was all about fiercely and mercilessly exposing his own bourgeois background while Cuaron is celebrating it.

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Re: Roma reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:26 am

Uri wrote:
Big Magilla wrote: I don't know what I'm going to end up considering the best film of the year.


What about Burning, or Shoplifters? You do seem to have Roma in the mix, why not consider these two very high profile films? Since you don't make a distinction between English speaking films and "foreign" ones, (the way I do when it comes to the Oscars) - you do consider Roma - expand your horizon and look elsewhere. Why stick with the one "foreign" film which, for some silly reason (ok, not silly - people in Hollywood personally know its director and American money was spent on it), was elevated from the relative awards obscurity, its kind are destined for, to be worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as A Star is Born? Films are films, aren't they?

Haven't seen Shoplifters, not released in the U.S. yet - has only been shown at film festivals that I have no access to.

I'm on the fence about Burning - it's intriguing, but I dunno - that ending kind of bothers me. I liked Chang-dong's Poetry much better. It was one of my top five of 2011 which also included Of Gods and Men and my winner, A Separation along with The Artist and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy . Yun Choeng-hie was my pick of the year's best actress.
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Re: Roma reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:07 am

I would have sacked those maids in no time. They were useless.

I couldn't get past all that dog shit - can one dog really shit that much? And the house was such a mess. It kept driving me crazy during the film and I'd live in squalor myself if it wasn't for my partner who insists on cleaning. But those maids did nothing more that serve a few meals and smile contently. If I'm paying for a service I would expect results.

The definitive film about maids is without a doubt Sebastian Silva's The Maid (2009) - a fully formed character who is not beyond diabolical behaviour.

Films portraying maids exacting revenge upon their employers were more believable portrayals than the ones presented in Roma. See: The Maids, Sister My Sister & Murderous Maids, though to be fair the focus of those films were the maids, not the petty bourgeois.

Cuarón is really nothing more than a technican. He has no real heart or soul in his work. Everything is so fabricated, he lacks spontanunity in most of his films and he is by far the least interesting of the Mexican New Wave directors to emerge over the last 20 years. Personally, I'll take del Torro (though I find his bloated big budget Hollywood junk underwhelming) and best of all Carlos Reygadas any day.
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Re: Roma reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:48 am

Uri wrote:
Big Magilla wrote: I don't know what I'm going to end up considering the best film of the year.


What about Burning, or Shoplifters?


Yes. I have personally found Burning more interesting than really good, and haven't seen Shoplifters yet. But this year there have been some very good foreign movies (one is Italian, Happy as Lazzaro) so I agree that limiting oneself to American movies (in what seems to be a not very good year for American movies) or to an American-friendly Mexican movie isn't a good idea.

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Re: Roma reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:40 am

Uri wrote:
HarryGoldfarb wrote: With Cuarón I think that (if this is as biographical as he says) we could say that it is a pity that his childhood was so privileged, so much that he had to resort to his film's central figure to get a story with the possibility of resonance.


Bang on. Love this observation.



Yes :)

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Re: Roma reviews

Postby Uri » Tue Dec 18, 2018 2:17 am

HarryGoldfarb wrote: With Cuarón I think that (if this is as biographical as he says) we could say that it is a pity that his childhood was so privileged, so much that he had to resort to his film's central figure to get a story with the possibility of resonance.


Bang on. Love this observation.

HarryGoldfarb wrote: Having said that, I must also say that I have no problem with the apparent idealization of the central character, because I do believe that there are people who are essentially good, even if it is not interesting for many to see them portrayed in films. It seems that we prefer characters with imperfections, difficult to catalog. The fact that everyone has nuances I know it is true... but my problem is not the portrait that has been made of this central character but with the sum of all the content of the film.


I have no problem with having good people as protagonists. My problem was that Cuaron was so self-congratulatory, so enamoured with the fact he is so enlightened as to have his personal, middle class story being told through the eyes of a non caucasian, lower class servant (!), he turned her into a saint, and, on the way managed to avoid shedding any really unflattering light on his clan. He braggingly demonstrated a '70s like (male!) nudity in his film (ok, it's still a Native being naked, but still), but he let Cleo be modestly closed in that post colital scene, as if he couldn't bring himself to present her as a fully sexualised person. I'm sure that in their little room, the two maids had plenty of bitching about the family - from the body odor of the grandmother to the children being brats to discussing the intimacy issues the parents had (yes, Anonymous, they had). But no, all we have is some giddy, childlike happy chat. I know, it's all about how the past is filtered through the fickle nature of memory, blah blah blah, but yes, I didn't buy it.

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Re: Roma reviews

Postby Uri » Tue Dec 18, 2018 1:52 am

Big Magilla wrote: I don't know what I'm going to end up considering the best film of the year.


What about Burning, or Shoplifters? You do seem to have Roma in the mix, why not consider these two very high profile films? Since you don't make a distinction between English speaking films and "foreign" ones, (the way I do when it comes to the Oscars) - you do consider Roma - expand your horizon and look elsewhere. Why stick with the one "foreign" film which, for some silly reason (ok, not silly - people in Hollywood personally know its director and American money was spent on it), was elevated from the relative awards obscurity, its kind are destined for, to be worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as A Star is Born? Films are films, aren't they?

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Re: Roma reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Dec 17, 2018 6:01 pm

Yalitza Aparicio is certainly a possibility for Best Actress, but this is a more highly competitive year than 2004 so I wouldn't count on it.

I don't know what I'm going to end up considering the best film of the year. Whatever it is will likely be by default - the best of a very weak year. I keep thinking the theme song of this year's Oscars ought to be Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?" from 1969.

I like all kinds of movies, though I have a very low tolerance for superhero movies, even good ones like Black Panther which I've been resisting considering a potential winner all year, yet of all the presumed contenders it best fits the conventional standard of a film with a beginning, a middle and an end which gets it extra points from me, enough to maybe make my ten list but not enough to get it to the top spot, though Oscar could conceivably put it there.

Roma and The Favourite are films that don't end, they just stop without any kind of conclusion. The Favourite is particularly irksome in this regard because it's an historical epic. We know what happened to Queen Anne. She died the year after her war ended. It could have ended with that instead of the inconclusive way it does. First Reformed has the opposite problem, it has too many endings.

BlackKklansman, Green Book and First Man are all films I like, but not enough to say that any one of them cries out for a Best Picture prize. A number of other films are good enough to make my ten best list but nothing feels like it deserves the brass ring.

Of the largely unheralded films, I like Lean on Pete and Paddington 2 best, so they're apt to be on my list somewhere.

Films I've yet to see include If Beale Street Could Talk and Vice. I'm likely to appreciate the former. but the latter is a film I'm already turned off of by a) the subject matter and b) the smarmy way it appears to be handled in the yuck-yuck unfunny trailer.
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Re: Roma reviews

Postby HarryGoldfarb » Mon Dec 17, 2018 5:12 pm

Cuarón has treated Roma with the solemnity that he, as a director, feels that his memories deserve. That is, to some extent, a nice touch, a perfectly fine approach... in fact, we are facing a film that is really big in the approach to the subject, in the treatment of the material. A sensitive film that handles very simple themes but one that aspire to resonate with universality. However, memories and nostalgia as resources lend themselves to this, they can be very powerful in narrative exercises. Having said this, I do not think the content was all that great. That Roma might end up winning the Oscar for Best Film would not be unreasonable (lower quality films without a doubt have won this award) if it were to happen.

Much has been said here of what is perceived as flaws in the film, those elements that keep it from being the masterpiece that so many critics say it is. I agree with Italiano who have said that it is easier to admire this film (as a cinematographic achievement) than to love it as a final work (btw, I do think I have a mind of my own, just in case...). It is technically impeccable, but my main discomfort was to see that the protagonist is Cuarón himself. Throughout the film I could only see Cuarón working, moving threads, making creative decisions, being too "an artist" and that's where the film ends up being almost pretentious. It is a director's film directing in a very obvious way, sacrificing the possibility that the content speaks for itself by focusing on aesthetics.

I do not know if it is fair to make this comparison, but if Catalina Sandino Moreno managed to nominate for Maria Full of Grace in 2004, it would be fair then for Yalitza Aparicio to receive a nomination for Best Actress. Her work, the portrait she manages to achieve of Cleo, is probably the least artificial element from the film. I think that her nomination would not be undeserved and it is a possibility to consider especially if the Academy goes nuts for the movie, even though Aparicio has already been overlooked by wau too many precursors.

As for the cinematography, it is obvious that it is a beautiful one, that it is a superlative element of the film. However, I feel that it is something that I have already seen ... In general, it reminds me a lot the work of Mihai Mălaimare Jr. in Tetro (Francis Ford Coppola, 2009). Also, I think he (Cuarón) abuses those way too perfect horizontal pans. I hope there is some better cinematography out there...

The final message of the film, seen from a superficial perspective, seems to be no more than life leads us, both rich and poor. And that we all need each other. That almost corny note that is continuously floating over the entire film (including the sublimation and idealization of the central character) makes for a romantic interpretation, one that is easy to digest, and that people can celebrate with enthusiasm but above all with tranquility. And that brings the film dangerously close to the terrain (in content, not in execution) of Crash (2005).

Having said that, I must also say that I have no problem with the apparent idealization of the central character, because I do believe that there are people who are essentially good, even if it is not interesting for many to see them portrayed in films. It seems that we prefer characters with imperfections, difficult to catalog. The fact that everyone has nuances I know it is true... but my problem is not the portrait that has been made of this central character but with the sum of all the content of the film.

About Boyhood, a film that is closer to my own sensibility and that is much more of my liking, someone here once said something like (I am paraphrasing) "What a pity that Linklater's childhood and adolescence were so conventional". With Cuarón I think that (if this is as biographical as he says) we could say that it is a pity that his childhood was so privileged, so much that he had to resort to his film's central figure to get a story with the possibility of resonance.

All in all, too artistry for its own good, too self important. That does not detract from the fact that, as I said at the beginning, it is a great film in approach, of impeccable technical quality. Cinema should be more, it should generate a little more passion, but even if it wins BP, it would not be a bad winner, not in my book. I just hoped and wanted to like it more...
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Re: Roma reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Dec 17, 2018 2:59 pm

Roma is only semi-autobiographical. Cuaron was the eldest of three children - there are four in the fictional family in the film. His father was a nuclear physicist who worked for the U.N., he wasn't a doctor like the father in the film.

Although Cuaron was born in Mexico, he lived in the U.S. in the 1990s when he made A Little Princess and has lived in the U.K. since 2000 where he has made most of his films since. Roma is only his third Mexican film, his first since Y Tu Mama Tambien.

While the film is set in Mexico, it reminds people of Fellini because of its fluidity and has been compared to Amarcord in that it is about the director's memories of childhood filtered through decades of changes in his life - in other words it's a cloudy remembrance which might explain why the screenplay seems confusing at times. Its narrative seems more Ozu than Fellini, but Cuaron has had lots of influences including some Italian ones. His second wife, the mother of two of his three children, is Italian. She was born and raised in Tuscany.

To compare his work to anyone else at this point in his career seems rather foolish. His own reputation should be enough to interest audiences in his films.

Not sure how many Oscar nominations the film will get, but Cuaron's name should be on a few of them (Picture, Direction, Cinematography, Editing, maybe Screenplay). It might even win a few of them. The film is almost certain to win Best Foreign Language Film, which goes to the country of origin not the director altough the director usually accepts the award on behalf of the country. I doubt, though, that it will win Best Picture in additon to Best Foreign Language Film, but if by some fluke it's not nominated in the latter category, it could become the one to beat in protest.
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Re: Roma reviews

Postby MaxWilder » Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:50 pm

Uri wrote:Towards the end of this film, after nearly 2 hours, there’s the scene in the car of the family returning from the beach, the camera lingering on the faces of those people and all I could think was: who are they? I don’t know them. There are small blond boy, big boy, even bigger boy and girl...
But it’s not really a child-like take on her, since the pov of the kids is not explored, nor is it a fully-fledged, revisionist take of her by the grownup director. He doesn’t seem to be able to truly understand her.

These were my issues as well. Of the four kids (did there have to be four?), I can only remember Paco, who I would guess stands in for Cuaron. Shouldn't I be completely sure of that?


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