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kenmorefield

Roma (2018)

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Netflix has been pushing this for awards, and I was excited to see it, but...

Despite some good photography, I found myself really unengaged. The plotlessness made it seem to drag, and I really didn't care for (or about) any of the characters beyond the generic sympathy for another human being in a difficult situation. 

I spent the last hour or so interrogating myself and the film. How was it different from the films of Koreeda (which I usually like)? How much was the reading/viewing situation (long, rainy Monday) affecting the viewing experience? In looking back over Cuaron's filmography at IMDB, I am struck that he has done relatively few films farther apart in time, and he does seem to have done cinematography for a lot of shorts. So perhaps it is just that visual/narrative divide that separates me from a number of filmmakers that I feel like I ought to esteem more. I did briefly compare notes with the guy I watched the film with and he reported being similarly cool towards the film, focusing his comments on the inclusion of a story about the maid's boyfriend that no doubt tied the film to a specific time (1970) but further dissipated its focus. (There's a prolonged scene where he does martial arts in the nude because...well damned if I know.)

I think this got nominated over at  the Ecumenical Jury thread, so I know there are people I respect who find much to admire in it. I didn't feel like I understood it enough to hate it. 

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Interesting...by contrast to you, Ken, I'm not a big fan of Koreeda, but I loved this film.  I was occasionally aware of its long running time, but I was in awe of the tableaux created by Cuaron, and his meticulous recreation of an era.  (It probably helped that I saw this on a very big screen in Toronto; no doubt these feelings are diminished with a television or laptop viewing.)  I felt, too, that he was highly empathetic in juxtaposing the emotional struggles of the mother and maid both.  I expect this'll make my Top 10, if not my Top 5.

Here's my full review: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2018/09/tiff-2018-dispatch-7-mexican-womanhood-an-outlandish-refugee-fable/

 

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I am glad to see your thoughts, Ken. I watched this last week with two other critics who raved about it. I had to sheepishly confess that I felt disconnected to the material nearly for the duration of the film. It's hard not to be affected by the childbirth scene (although I found myself impatient during the run-up to the delivery; "why is this pregnancy scene taking so long?"), and a late sequence at a beach during high tide struck me as a technical marvel. But for most of the film, I found myself wondering why I felt so little about what was happening. I had expected to be captivated by the cinematography alone, but even that didn't strike me as particularly dazzling. 

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I will never, ever complain about swag, because as Rebecca Cusey once quipped, I've already sold my soul to Paramount for a stale bagel. I will confess to this coffee-table book of photography inducing more eye-rolling than swooning. I mean I get that Cuaron is a prestige sign for Netflix, and that any awards would be a legitimizing feather in their cap. But I'm also having flashbacks to my pre-professional days when Shakespeare in Love beat Saving Private Ryan and it seemed every subsequent story was about how the Weinsteins had open the floodgates for Oscar campaigning. I'm not sure why this bugs me -- other than I feel fraudulent for not liking the movie--but I guess I think Roma is now officially the frontrunner by default. 

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