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Flash Movie Review: Roma

THOUGH HER EYES WERE COVERED WITH OVERSIZED sunglasses, the sun was reflected in each lens to make it look like she had stars in her eyes. I stared at the photograph for some time, wondering if the photographer realized that when they captured the image. Hanging next to this photograph was one that depicted something completely different. It was done in black and white and at first glance I thought it was a photo of a closed toilet seat. The camera had shot it from the front at eye level to the seat. I assumed the photographer was attracted to the dark splotches on the seat’s rims; personally, I thought it looked nasty. As I read the information card next to the photograph it turned out the subject of the photo was actually a small bunch of ripe bananas, done in closeup. I was surprised and had to look back at the photo hanging on the wall. Now that I knew what it was I could make out the three bananas stacked on each other; what a hoot! In photography I have always gotten a kick out of taking photos of ordinary things in such a way as to play with the viewer’s perceptions of it, turning the subject into something extraordinary.     AS I WALKED AROUND THE GALLERY I saw some gorgeous photographs. When the subject was human, I spent more time in front of it wondering why the person was photographed; what was their back story? One photo had an elderly woman sitting on a park bench. She was knitting a scarf while wearing it. The finished end was draped around her neck then rolled down her chest to her hands that held two large knitting needles. The needles looked like they were pointing to one spot. I wondered why the woman was sitting outside with her knitting; was she waiting for someone, did she like sitting outdoors because of the lighting and temperature? Did the photographer even know her, I wondered? Usually I have seen people knitting in waiting rooms; this photo piqued my curiosity. There were other photographs that showed individuals in a variety of emotional states. Coming out of one of the photos was an anguished looking woman who looked like her skin was melting; she looked deflated and sad. I came up with a few scenarios that all ended in some type of tragedy. But isn’t that what art is supposed to do; make one think and react to its content? That is exactly what was taking place in this film festival winning drama; the subject’s story came to life right before my eyes.      CLEO, PLAYED BY NEWCOMER YALTA APARICIO, was the maid for a middle-class family that had some issues behind its façade. Set in Mexico City during the 1970s, this movie also starred Marina de Tavira (The Skies-TV; Love, Pain and Vice Versa) as Sra. Sofia, newcomer Diego Cortina Autrey as Tono, newcomer Carlos Peralta as Paco and newcomer Jorge Antonio Guerrero as Fermin. Directed and written by Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity, Children of Men), this film was visually stunning. Shot in black and white, Alfonso took his time with each scene. There was always something else going on besides the main subject in the scenes, filling up each frame with feelings and emotions. The story essentially was basic; there was very little action to speak of until the last half of the film. In fact, I found the script somewhat slow at times and felt Alfonso was spending too much time on some shots. For newcomers I was surprised to see how well the cast did with the script.  I only wished there was more to the story. This was one of the most beautifully filmed pictures I have ever seen; however, I found out the back story of some subjects may not always be so exciting.

 

3 ½ stars  

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Flash Movie Review: Gravity

It was only for a brief time where I believed the moon was made of cheese. I was always fascinated with the planets and stars; if for nothing else, it was where Flash Gordon, Luke Skywalker and Klaatu lived. One of my earliest exposures to outer space took place at the planetarium, where images of solar systems and planets were brought to life for me. Then it was science fiction movies and science classes that expanded my curiosity beyond earth. The closest I had come to experiencing what it must feel like to be in outer space were those virtual amusement park rides. You may know the kind; where you sit in a simulator that is programmed to rise, twist and fall with the projected movie in front you. I am here to tell you none of that came close to the feeling I had in this dramatic thriller. This was the first movie where I actually felt I understood what it must be like to be in outer space. In fact, I thought I was starting to get motion sickness, but it never turned into anything. The visuals were truly amazing. I read writer/director Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) created a new filming technique to create the incredible zero gravity scenes. Sandra Bullock (The Heat, The Proposal) played rookie astronaut Ryan Stone. Due to an accident; Ryan and fellow astronaut Matt Kowalski, played by George Clooney (The Descendants, Up in the Air) would have to depend on each other if they were going to survive the harshness of outer space. As I mentioned earlier the visuals were the strongest part of this film; they really were breathtaking and exciting to me. Going into the movie I had some concern the story would not keep my attention with two characters in outer space and no sign of any aliens to battle. There was nothing to worry about; this film kept my attention all the way through. In addition the music was ideal as it blended perfectly with every scene. Where this science fiction film lost points was with the script. George Clooney was just being himself in my opinion; he did not have anything to stretch his acting ability. Sandra’s character had similar facets drawn from some of her previous roles. With that being said this movie had everything else in its favor. Not a fan of 3D, I saw this at an IMAX theater in 3D with rumble seats and I loved it. I could not have cared in the least if some space scenes were not plausible; I left the theater both excited and exhausted for I felt I had just taken my first trip beyond earth.

 

3 1/2 stars

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