I am not one that is moved easily and emotionally by watching films. Not to say I don’t love films or I don’t appreciate the craft or technique that goes into making films. From the very first frame of Alfonso Cuarón’sROMA’ something switched in me. This film was different, a good different and I knew I was in for what would be an emotional journey. Told through harrowing film making, acting, unique and dynamic choices in storytelling and plot line. All of this from the perspective of two domestic workers of a politically charged 1970’s Mexico. Although as the movie progresses the storyline focuses more so on one domestic worker than the other (there’s a reason).

(L to R) Marco Graf as Pepe, Daniela Demesa as Sofi, Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marina De Tavira as Sofia, Diego Cortina Autrey as Toño, Carlos Peralta Jacobson as Paco in Roma, written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Photo by Carlos Somonte


Cléo (played superbly by newcomer Yalitza Aparicio in her first acting role no less!) as a central character shines throughout the movie where a story such as this could get boring or trite. This doesn’t. Yalitza with just the smallest of gestures shows how aptly she ingested this character coupled with brilliant acting from the rest of the cast as well. You feel as if you’re not watching a movie but getting a sacred glimpse into a family’s home. This also holds true to Alfonso Cuarón’s editing style and choice of film. The use of a Kodachrome black and white style make the film have a simple look and feel, akin to a 70s home movie. To a viewer these choices may seem pointless as they are quite minute. Cuarón’s choices no matter how big or small serve us the viewer two major things watching this … To put you into a nostalgic mood and in the perspective of Cléo’s character. In real is a person who often goes nameless and faceless in society. Cuarón by doing so allows the viewer to relate to Cléo the most as we draw empathy for her and her situation with the use of Nostalgia. Cléo represents not only herself but countless others in her position. So Cuarón drew less upon a backstory per se unlike other characters in the film, most notably Sofia, the wife and maternal figure of the family Cléo worked for (who is played by the brilliant, Marina De Tavira). All in all I got exactly what Cuarón was trying to convey across the screen and that’s the goal of a filmmaker. Especially from a film that is so well acted across the board and with so many tiny intricacies you could write a term paper on it. This also was the first film I’ve seen from Alfonso Cuarón so you can bet I will be watching more.

Until then,
Brittney W. 🙂 x

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It has been 54 years since the beloved original had it’s Disney debut on the silver screen. Now Mary Poppins is back and finer than ever, drawing inspiration from the P.L. Travers book series. Director Rob Marshall (Into The Woods, Chicago) brings the film some 20 years forward to Depression Era London with the Banks children, Michael and Jane Banks now grown up and requiring some much needed help and possibly a bit of magic…

In Mary Poppins Returns we see the beloved nanny (played by Emily Blunt in a role where she absolutely shines!) return to sprightly form to help out the Banks children who are now adults in London. Jane Banks (played by Emily Mortimer) has moved back in to the Cherry Tree Lane family home to help out her Brother Michael Banks (played by Ben Whishaw) after a recent tragedy. Michael now has three small ones of his own (played by Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh and newcomer Joel Dawson so adorably and brilliantly). After several losses including what could possibly be the loss of their home. Mary Poppins re-enters the Banks family life when they most need it, when all of the hope and magic from their childhood has long gone.

Along with the help of a street lamplighter named Jack (played by Lin Manuel Miranda superbly in his first movie role) who just so happens to be a friend of Mary Poppins herself. Through the teachings of Mary, many friends along the way (be on the lookout for some fun guest appearances including Dick Van Dyke who was in the original from 1964), and lots of fun sing-along song and dance numbers. The absolutely grand spectacle that is ‘Trip A Little Light Fantastic’ and the teary and beautiful ‘The Place Where The Lost Things Go’ which is so well suited to Emily Blunt’s voice, are absolute standouts in the film. Mary slowly but surely works to restore the magic and joy that once was at Cherry Tree Lane with the help of the three younger Banks children coupled through the elder ones and all that seemed impossible becomes practically perfect in every way. It got me thinking that maybe we should all go and fly a kite.

Until then,

Brittney W.

You’ll have ‘NO ALTERNATIVE’ not to watch this …

The book now a film No Alternativeby writer and director William Dickerson, (DETOUR, DON’T LOOK BACK) stars Michaela Cavazos as Bridget Harrison, Conor Proft as Thomas Harrison, Chloe Levine as Jackie O’Brien, Kathryn Erbe as Maureen Harrison and Harry Hamlin as William Harrison is out this Friday. The big premiere is at the ‘Dances with Films’ Festival on Opening Night June 7th at the TCL Chinese Theater.

The film takes place in typical suburbia in the aftermath and chaos of the death of Kurt Cobain and grunge. It was essentially a new age “The Day The Music Died” for many teens and young adults. ‘No Alternative’ focuses on the Harrison family a small conservative upper middle class family. The central characters though are the two teen children, Thomas (who is older) and Bridget. Thomas starts a band named the ‘Latter Day Saints’ to pay tribute to his late idol Kurt Cobain while his sister Bridget is anti Kurt, Grunge and Nirvana finds solace in rap music, something that has just hit suburban White America and with aplomb. Bridget finds a Midi Keyboard & Sequencer by the train tracks and takes it home. At home is where her at first sketchy and troublesome rap alter ego “Bri Da B” is born. Both siblings seemingly different, love music are now using music to cope and to a point share their creativity. Because according to their father William (played by Harry Hamlin in a very curt yet apoplectic performance ) both Harrison children have “issues” they just deal with them differently.  As Bridget has been medicated nearly her entire life when Thomas has not.

These “issues” as we learn in the film (and in life) are not just “issues” but Mental Illness in which the Harrison family tend to dance around. This is the central issue for this family not only is the family dealing with it. It involves a case that the father, William mishandles and his wife played by Kathryn Erbe (in a icy stoism of your typical 90s conservative Mom for most of the film) tries to keep hidden. Mental Illness is what could ultimately pull the Harrison family apart or pull them together and the director’s filmaking style, which borderlines an  almost documentary or on the go style of film. It really puts you further into the mind of certain characters. Using unique angles and lighting you feel ever more present in these characters lives and story. At times haunting and sad other times uncomfortable and brutal. Which makes the twist in this film no less shocking. One of the most emotional and hard to watch moments in this film.

My only criticism was the way certain racial issues were handled and glossed over with Bridget’s alter ego. I do know, we all have different points of views but I felt that scene could have been handled better. All in all the film is an entertaining, highly emotional if slightly morbid and tunnelistic look at a certain part of society that once ruled the world.

– Brittney W. 🙂 xx