12.5

One final post regarding 2018 movies, specifically my favorite of the eight Academy Award nominees for Best Picture.

Since a gaggle of you confused souls have asked me to defend the Roma hullabaloo — “It’s so boring! Nothing happens! Overrated!!!” — it may behoove us all if I share with everyone why I love the movie so much (I know the Oscars have passed and it’s been out for months and yadda yadda yadda but better late than never right???).

Mastermind auteur Alfonso Cuarón has stated repeatedly that it’s a memory piece in which he tries to recreate the sensory, emotional, and cognitive experience of his childhood in Mexico City. The tactile specificity of the filmmaking focuses on the sorts of striking sounds and images that we remember from our upbringing, those that continue to haunt our psyches because they come to signify greater meaning than initially meets the eye. For instance, he associates his father with a hand on a steering wheel, a reflection of his lifestyle, both its luxury and his predilection to be always moving, never staying at home with his family.

Reflections are a reoccurring motif, because what else is personal memory than a reflection of life? And this obsession with the past connects to the black-and-white cinematography, especially for an artist like Cuarón who must view life through the prism of a camera, both literally and figuratively. Shadows are a central feature of B&W, and they can be understood as the physical manifestations of the concept of memory — an offshoot of the real thing that retains the same general shape but is a bit more abstract.

I could devote an entire piece to Yalitza Aparicio’s painfully-constrained, achingly-realistic minimalism deployed to maximalist effect; her performance is experientially-immersive, emotionally-involving, and analytically-removed. She exudes an air of comfort, yet we remain aware she’s always on edge, rarely at ease within her adopted world — an outsider, even on the inside.

Then again, these are just my thoughts; the movie’s open to endless interpretation, because it’s so meticulously-evocative. In this way, Roma‘s a masterclass in the universal through the specific, a bedrock of artistic expressionism.

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