Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, 2018)

What's it about? Set in Mexcio City at the start of the 70s, it focuses on Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), the housekeeper for a busy middle-class family, as various events impact on her and the household.


Is it any good? At the time of writing, it is the hot favourite to win the Best Picture Oscar at tonight's ceremony and it is easy to see why. This is clear Oscar-bait; heartfelt film-making, elegant direction, gorgeously photographed, great sound design and.......*lowers voice to whisper and looks around furtively*....a little bit dull. That's not to say it is not worth watching. Inspired by Cuarón's own upbringing, it depicts time and place to marvelous effect, not least in the recreation of the Corpus Christi massacre of 1971, which is a masterpiece of choreography. Throughout, Cuarón's camera glides gently past characters and events, capturing the family hubbub and moments of tenderness, pain and love as it goes. The sound design perfectly complements the imagery and the cast feel perfectly natural in their roles. It's a personal labour of love for Cuarón and I don;t doubt it means a lot to him. But for all that, it never really moved me and felt an awful lot like being invited to watch someone else's home movie. I'm happy for them, but not sure why I should care? It will probably win the Best Picture Oscar tonight, but it'll not go down as an all-time classic Oscar-winner.

I don't trust you. What do others think? Well, clearly it has been a hit across the festival circuit, garnering award after award. It'll be the first film not in the English language to win Best Picture Oscar, which I suppose counts for something. But it could be derailed by a backlash from the industry about its financiers Netflix, who smartly negotiated a limited theatrical release for the film in order to qualify for awards, even though the majority of people are likely to see it at home through the streaming service. Naturally, this has rankled with the traditional powers-that-be in Hollywood, who are worried about the economic impact of letting Netflix muscle in on their patch. With more and more film-makers happy to work with Netflix's flexible funding model, this is further evidence of a power-shift within Hollywood. The hope for us humble film-lovers is that Hollywood will react by also funding more diverse, interesting and under-represented stories, stories which there is clearly an appetite for, as the Netflix success has demonstrated. Read about it here.

What does the Fonz think? A tidy piece of housekeeping.

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