Movies

Movie reviews: 'Roma' and 'The Favourite'

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 2/10/19

Alphonso Cuarón has said his film, “Roma,” is made up of 90 percent memories, his memories, of when he was growing up in the early 1970s in Mexico City ...

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Movies

Movie reviews: 'Roma' and 'The Favourite'

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Alphonso Cuarón has said his film, “Roma,” is made up of 90 percent memories, of when he was growing up in the early 1970s in Mexico City. Shot in gorgeous black-and-white — by him — the film is a loving homage to plainspoken storytelling.

His method to accomplish this is to make the camera a near-passive window through which we can absorb and contemplate what happens. What we see in this window is summed up by a woefully simple logline: It is “a year in the life of a middle-class family's maid in Mexico City in the early 1970s.” But, of course, there is much more.

“Roma” unfolds in a classic sense, harking back to a time when films were seen as art and examined for their underlying meanings, symbolism and socio-political intent rather than how many special effects shots can be crammed into one frame. Make no mistake though, “Roma” does contain a copious amount of CGI, but it’s so subtle you’d never know it unless told it’s there. Rather, it serves the telling of the tale; a tool to bring it to life, much like a painter’s brush can be used to render something photo-realistic or gestural and abstract.

Oscar nominee Yalitza Aparicio, the first indigenous woman given that honor, portrays the live-in maid Cleodegaria Gutiérrez with guileless naturalism as her character helps keep the family together through a series of emotional challenges. She lives in the house with another maid, Adela (Nancy García). A good portion of the film looks at class struggles as Señora Sofía (Marina de Tavira) superficially embraces her servants as family members, but at arm’s length as one in her station in life is expected while at the same time giving over much of her parenting duties for her children Toño, Paco, Pepe and Sofi to Cleo and Adela.

The ostensible head of the household is Sofía’s husband, Antonio (Fernando Grediaga), who seems gruff and preoccupied most of the time until one day he leaves for what he says is a conference in Geneva. At that point Sofía takes over, but the mood is strained. In the meantime, Cleo has issues in her personal life the underlie those of her employer, mostly surrounding her lover, Fermín (Jorge Antonio Guererro). These issues appear to be trifling on the surface, but there is an epic quality embued by Cuarón as we watch his memories unfold. Each statement means something. Each visual image is a touchstone.

I won’t go into explaining more about what happens, because seeing this movie is an experience in itself. Although it is now available on Netflix, this movie truly deserves to be seen on the big screen at the Taos Community Auditorium where Cuarón’s artistry can be appreciated.

The title is a reference to the Colonia Roma neighborhood of Mexico City where Cuarón grew up.

This is this our prediction for a 2019 Best Picture Oscar.

Tempo grade: A+

“Roma” is rated R for graphic nudity, some disturbing images, and language.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 10) and at 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday (Feb. 11-16). at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

Also showing in Taos

The Favourite

MPAA rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity and language

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres

The proverb that begins "be careful what you wish for ..." runs like an interpolated melody beneath the new period comedy-drama "The Favourite."

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, the lavishly produced fact-based yet wildly imagined movie focuses on the palace shenanigans of England's Queen Anne, played by Oscar nominated Olivia Colman, and the two women vying for her affection and, of course, the power that affords.

It's somewhat important to know that its setting is 1708 and that England is at war with France, but the Queen isn't quite herself. More important for the sake of this film is that Anne's confidante, Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz), basically runs the country in her stead. Sarah, relative to a certain future prime minister, relishes her role and the authority it provides over the various intrigues at hand. So, it is unnerving when out of the blue, a former lady, Abigail Hill (Emma Stone), shows up to take a job as a servant in the queen's castle.

Abigail is younger, more attractive and has a way of ingratiating herself to those for whom she targets her charms. She also craves to become a lady once more. So, when she finds a way into the queen’s favor, Sarah is none too pleased.

The film floats on a thin veneer of traditional depictions of palace intrigue, but Lanthimos interweaves just enough satire and modern shock and snark to make this refreshingly amusing.

Tempo grade: B+

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

MPAA rating: PG for some rude humor

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres

The citizens of Bricksburg face a dangerous new threat when LEGO DUPLO invaders from outer space start to wreck everything in their path. The battle to defeat the enemy and restore harmony to the LEGO universe takes Emmet, Lucy, Batman and the rest of their friends to faraway, unexplored worlds that test their courage and creativity.

Directed by Mike Mitchell, this computer animated movie features a voice cast that includes Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, and Alison Brie.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

The Prodigy

MPAA rating: R for violence, disturbing and bloody images, a sexual reference and brief graphic nudity

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres

In her much-anticipated foray into the horror-thriller genre, Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Taylor Schilling stars as Sarah, a mother whose young son Miles' (Jackson Robert Scott) disturbing behavior signals that an evil, possibly supernatural force has overtaken him.

Fearing for her family's safety, Sarah must choose between her maternal instinct to love and protect Miles and a desperate need to investigate what or who is causing his dark turn. She is forced to look for answers in the past, taking the audience on a wild ride; one where the line between perception and reality becomes frighteningly blurry.

Directed by Nicholas McCarthy and written by Jeff Buhler, this film co-stars Colm Feore, Brittany Allen, and Peter Mooney.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

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