Full Review: ROMA (Mexico/USA 2018) Top 10 *****

Roma Poster
Trailer

A story that chronicles a year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s.

Director:

Alfonso Cuarón

ROMA marks another Netflix original movie.  There are so many these and so many good ones at that (THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS, THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES, this one) that very soon there might even be an award for Best Netflix movie. (Netflix should look into this possibility for publicity.3

ROMA’s is bookended by camera shots of an overhead flying airplane, the first image seen as a reflection in the water poured on the floor by the maid Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) and seen again as in the last image in the sky, probably a metaphor that Cleo has risen to a different height in life.  The first shot of the plane introduces Cleo as a servant to a wealthy Mexican family.  The second time the plane appears is when Cleo an the family are at a beach where she saves the children from drowning, another highlight of her life after being depressed from a failed romance.  And the third signals …… .  Sorry, no more spoilers in the review.

The film is called ROMA because that is the name of the suburb in Mexico City that the film is set.  The film follows the life of maid and nanny Cleo as she works for a wealthy Mexican family, loved by the mistress and her children.   The daily routines of cleaning, serving, washing are laid out bear amidst Cleo facing life’s ordeals like a failed romance, the breakup of her employers’ marriage and Mexico’s troubles.  This is crafted layered storytelling.

Cleo works hard.  She is jilted and left pregnant by her male chauvinist lover.  “One thing is for sure.  Women are always alone.” The mistress tells Cleo at one point in the film, which is the theme of the film.  Surprisingly, this message is also so relevant in the current age of female abuse.  Women have to stand together as depicted in the story of the film.

The film has three outstanding segments – a riot protest gone violent, as seen from a window; a drowning scene and a forest fire all done old fashioned no gimmicks style.   Cuaron flexes his artistic muscles with a man singing during the forest fire segment.  Cuaron also brings the audience up to date to the problems faced by the Mexicans like land rights and violent protests, use of firearm and class distinction.  But the most moving segment (and indeed most moving segment found in ay film this year) is the Cleo’s delivery scene, again the details of which will not be spoilt out in this review.

ROMA is director Cuaron’s film of his childhood memories with his maid.  Directors always make their bet films based on childhood memories – examples being Ingmar Bergman’s FANNY AND ALEXANDER and Federico Fellini’s AMARCORD.  ROMA can be added to the esteemed list.

ROMA is shot in black and white 16mm and a gorgeous looking picture.  I have seen ROMA twice and the film passes the test of still being captivating on its second viewing.  ROMA is Netflix’s hope of winning its first Academy Award in the category of Best Foreign Language Film.  It has my vote.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKVYRtE-kXI

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Film Review: THE WILD PEAR TREE (Ahlat Ağacı)(Turkey/France/Germany/Bulgaria/Macedonia/Bosnia and Herzegovia/Sweden 2018) ****

The Wild Pear Tree Poster
An aspiring writer returns to his native village, where his father’s debts catch up to him.

Writers:

Akin AksuEbru Ceylan |

The third film set in Anatolia, Turkey after ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA and WINTER SLEEP, THE WILD PEAR TREE is another engrossing and rewarding drama to watch despite its 3-hour running time.  As in all of Ceylon’s films, the drama deals with an individual as he contemplates existence in a rural setting.  Because Ceylon is able to connect his protagonist with his audience through film, his films are tremendously satisfying, this film having the best rating on Rotten Tomatoes for a film screened at Cannes this year.  THE WILD PEAR TREE is also Turkey’s entry for the Best Foreign Film Oscar for 2018.

The film opens with the return after graduation from college of one young Siman (Aydın Doğu Demirkol) to his family farm.  Ceylon is clear to show that he is one in love with Turkey as the camera proudly pans the landscape of the rural countryside and the beauty of the port.  Sinan is passionate about literature and has always wanted to be a writer.   Returning to the village where he was born, he pours heart and soul into scraping together the money he needs to be published, but his father, Idris’s (Murat Cecir) debts catch up with him.

The segment with Siman working unsuccessfully to dig a well on the farm so that the father could till the land is one that demonstrates both the problems a family faces while working  together as well as the harshness of farming as an occupation.  Siman’s goals and ambition in life are put into question when he later meets a young girl.  He confesses that the villagers are simple peasants and she remarks that he would think little of her as she has aims of staying in the village and getting married, settling down.

One wonders if the segment in which the idealistic Siman looks into getting his work published is autobiographical.  Director Ceylon probably faced the same resistance when he wanted his films made.  It is a question of the idealistic vs the realistic.  Siman’s possible publisher is reluctant having seen many similar cases before, one of which includes himself wanting to write as well.  This part ends the second half of the film.  It is a bit slow and would likely be more interesting to artists having to go throughout the same ordeals as Siman in the story.

Ceylon has a religious debate that goes for a while at the 2/3 mark of the film.  The debate that is also applicable to other religions, about changes in the Koran might either come across as too heavy, too distant or un-relatable.  Even the imam confesses at the end of the debate: “There is no end to this discussion.”  But Ceylon allow the debate to go on and on with little conclusion.

THE WILD PEAR TREE, as in the other Ceylon films a heavy watch –  a case of one having to work in order to reap the rewards.  
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGts8qQe8Fc

Film Review: LOVE JACKED (Canada/South Africa 2017) ***

Love Jacked Poster
Trailer

MAYA, has artistic ambitions – her father ED wants: a dutiful daughter to run the family store. Taking her independence a step further, Maya decides to travel to Africa for inspiration and returns with a fiancé.

Director:

Alfons Adetuyi

LOVE JACKED is a a romantic comedy with a touch of road trip featuring charming characters, family drama and humorous misadventures.  The description can be applied to almost any number of romantic comedies, but this does not mean it will be a predictable bore.  The recent CRAZY RICH ASIANS treaded similar waters but it won the hearts of audiences as well as made lots of money.  That film was smart enough to tap Singapore, an ultra modern city that provided a fresh look to the well-worn genre.  LOVE JACKED uses Cape Town, South Africa to provide a varied touch.

When the film opens, Maya (Amber Stephens West) is in trouble and requires a bailout.

Maya is headstrong with artistic ambitions, a strong contrast to what her father Ed (Keith David) wants: a dutiful daughter to run the family hardware store.  Ed is shocked when Maya takes her assertions of independence a step further and decides to travel to Africa. While looking for inspiration, she meets Mtumbie (Demetrius Grosse), an African Casanova who sweeps her into a whirlwind romance and the two announce their engagement.  When Maya’s father tries to persuade her to forget Africa and return home, her resolve to go ahead with the marriage hardens until she finds Mtumbie in bed with another woman. But rather than admit that her father was right, she tells her family the wedding is on.  Drowning her sorrows at a small diner and looking for a way out of her situation, Maya meets pool hustler Malcom (Shamier Anderson) who is on the run from his partner Tyrell (Lyriq Bent). With Malcolm on the run and Maya trying to convince her family she is still engaged, they devise a plan to solve both their situations: Malcolm will hide out from Tyrell pretending to be Maya’s African fiancé Mtumbie.

No prize in guessing that Maya wilful in love with Mtumbie.  Myumbie shows up at the airport dressed in African robe speaking with a Nigerian accent.  He wins approval of the family even Maya’s father.  The story pays homage to the Eddie Murphy Joh Landis’ comedy COMING TO AMERICA, one of Murphy’s funniest comedies.  Mtumbie even mentions COMING  TO AMERICA in this film.

The scripts adds on a few more obstacles to the romance.  Mtumbie is a pool hustler from Quebec (quite funny) who is on the lam from his buddy who wants to kill him.  Mtumbie also meets an uncle of maya’s who is expert on anything African – beginning to quiz Mtumbie on his origins.  Maya’s sexy cousin starts hitting on Mtumbie.  All Harlequin novels contain obstacles that are all overcome at the end for the benefit of the couple finding themselves again.

For a family that owns a hardware store, the family can afford to own a mansion that is unbelievably grand.  But movies are normally set in huge mansions with elaborate decor rather than meagre dwellings, realistic to the story or not.

The best thing about the film is actor Demetrius Grosse who can play both the chivalrous romantic hero or the African clown speaking completely with Nigerian accent.  He is a hoot and one could watch him forever.  Keith David is also hilarious as the father who always has a one-liner under his breath.

Cliches and predictability aside, there are sweet moments of romantic charm.  LOVED JACKED is an entertaining light date film for couples with other things in mind on a date.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3XQ09nocQM

Watch the October 2018 1st Scene Script Winners

First Scene Screenplay Festival

STORYLGBT 1ST SCENE Screenplay: FLUIDITY by Taylor Carter
October 2018
STORYACTION 1ST SCENE Screenplay: SAVIOR by Tim Molloy
October 2018
STORYSCI-FI 1ST SCENE Screenplay: CHASING MONSTERS by Daniel Katz
October 2018

We also accept online submissions through Film Freeway. Click on the link BELOW to submit online through this middle-man resource website.

****

Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Director: Kierston Drier
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

View original post

Watch the October 2018 1st Scene Script Winners

First Scene Screenplay Festival

STORYLGBT 1ST SCENE Screenplay: FLUIDITY by Taylor Carter
October 2018
STORYACTION 1ST SCENE Screenplay: SAVIOR by Tim Molloy
October 2018
STORYSCI-FI 1ST SCENE Screenplay: CHASING MONSTERS by Daniel Katz
October 2018

We also accept online submissions through Film Freeway. Click on the link BELOW to submit online through this middle-man resource website.

****

Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Director: Kierston Drier
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

View original post

Watch the November 2018 1st Scene Script Winners