7 Things About Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma

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Roma ▴ Dir. Alfonso Cuarón ▴ Photo courtesy of Asac – la Biennale di Venezia.

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The Memories

Roma is set in the early 1970s following a young domestic worker living in the middle-class neighborhood of Roma, Mexico City.

Oscar-winner director Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Gravity) takes us on a deeply personal journey in an autobiographical ode to his childhood, and to the women who reared him.

“Eighty to ninety percent of the scenes represented in the film are scenes taken out of my memory,” Cuarón said during a Directors Guild of America interview, “sometimes directly, sometimes a bit more obliquely.”

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The Characters

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Roma ▴ Dir. Alfonso Cuarón with Yalitza Aparicio ▴ Photo courtesy of Asac – la Biennale di Venezia.

Just as the memories are real, so are the characters, including Cleo, played to perfection by Yalitza Aparicio, who had no previous acting experience. Cleo is a fictionalised version of the Cuarón family’s live-in-maid Liboria “Libo” Rodríguez.

Cuarón embarked on a painstaking search through countless villages in Mexico auditioning thousands of women for the role. When he met Aparicio, who is from the same small town as Libo, his search was over.

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The Corpus Christi Massacre

Cuarón draws on his childhood amidst political turmoil of the 1970s, most notably the devastating Corpus Christi massacre of 1971. Soldiers and police disguised as civilians opened fire on thousands of high school and university student demonstrators killing over 120 people.

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The Masculinity

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Roma ▴ Dir. Alfonso Cuarón ▴ Photo courtesy of Netflix

In many movies being made right now men seem to be suffering from a form of toxic masculinity syndrome – a disorder associated with brutal, abusive behaviour, with tendencies to lie, cheat, and often drink too much, ultimately letting everyone and themselves down.  

Roma serves as a testament to the women who raised Cuarón who are left to pick up the pieces after being betrayed by the men in their lives.

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The Cinematography

Along with directing the picture, Cuarón wrote the screenplay and also helmed the cinematography.

Due to a scheduling conflict Cuarón’s go-to guy, and three-time Oscar winner Emmanuel Lubezki, who has worked with him on almost every film he has made, was unavailable, leading Cuarón to step into the role himself.

This decision ended up being hugely beneficial to the creative process and the result is stunning.

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The Simplicity

There are plenty of high-impact parts throughout: a blazing forest fire; an earthquake; violent street riots; and an unsettling seaside scene.

But it’s the softer scenes that say so much. Cuarón has a talent of making the ordinary seem extraordinary: soapy water sloshing across a courtyard; a plane reflected in a puddle; laundry swaying on a clothesline. 

These moments of magic seem like a dream – these memories of one of the greatest directors of our time.

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The Score

There isn’t really a score as such, the soundtrack to Cuarón’s latest opus is made up of an occasional song drifting in and out of a radio or stereo, the rumble of city streets, cars vrooming, people babbling, waves crashing, fireworks, rifles, dogs… the sound design is instrumental to the experience allowing us to completely immerse ourselves into this world.

Academy Award contenders aren’t usually black-and-white, Mexican, subtitled movies with a relatively unknown cast and no soundtrack – yet Roma has been cleaning up on the road to the Oscars and has already won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, 2018.

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Roma billboard in Venice ▴ Dir. Alfonso Cuarón ▴ Photo courtesy of 7 Deadly Things 
 

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7 Occasions the Oscars Podium Became a Political Platform


#MeToo and #TimesUp

2017 –– Sexual misconduct and assault allegations rocks some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, in particular producer and graduate from the Institute of Sex Pestery, Harvey Weinstein. Hollywood reacted, #MeToo came into new prominence, and the #TimesUp anti-sexual harassment movement was born. Since then, #Metoo has become a much broader conversation with countless women and men coming forward publicly about experiences they’d never been able to talk about before.

#OscarsSoWhite

2015 –– All 20 acting nominees are white sparking a campaign that helped to raise awareness on decades of disparity within the academy. #OscarsSoWhite efforts has since seen the likes of movies like Moonlight (2016), a story about a young gay African-American, winning Best Picture, and more inclusive nominations with multiple people of colour in all categories such as Jordan Peele who made history in becoming the first black director nominated for Picture, Director and Screenplay for his debut film Get Out (2017).

Moonlight, written and directed by Barry Jenkins – A24

Marlon Brando Boycotts the Oscars

1973 –– Marlon Brando is announced as the Best Actor winner for his performance as Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972). However, instead of seeing the man himself take to the stage, up comes actress-activist Sacheen Littlefeather to decline the Oscar on his behalf. See, Brando had boycotted the ceremony in response to the Wounded Knee incident and also to “the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns.” Littlefeather was met with a mixed response of boos and applause.


Hattie McDaniel and the Segregated Ceremony

1940 –– The Oscars have been handing out little gold statuettes since 1929, but it wasn’t until 1940 that an African-American actor won one. Hattie McDaniel won the Best Supporting Actress prize for her role as Mammy in Gone With the Wind (1939). Although this accolade didn’t outdo the atrocity of McDaniel having to sit at a segregated table at the back of the room of the Ambassador Hotel, a venue that at the time held a “no coloureds” policy. It would be 51 more years until the next African-American woman won an Oscar, which went to Whoopi Goldberg for her supporting role in Ghost (1990).


“Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you” Michael Moore

2003 –– Never one to be kept quiet, Michael Moore took home an Oscar for Bowling for Columbine (2002), a documentary which was an early call for gun control (very sad then that all these years later it seems there’s a high school shooting every other day). Moore used his acceptance speech to protest the invasion of Iraq that had started four days before the event. He denounced George Bush calling him a “fictitious president.” The mix of boos and cheers was met with loud music to outplay Moore who was still speaking.


Sarandon, Robbins and Gere get a Slap on the Wrist from the Academy

1993 –– Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins presented the prize for best editing and used the platform to highlight the plight of Haitian HIV victims in Cuba, asking authorities to admit 250 refugees to the US. Oscar producer Gil Cates called their actions “outrageous, distasteful and dishonest” and said the pair would not be invited back. Cates threatened to ban the actors, including Richard Gere for his talk on Tibet, from future Oscars broadcasts because they departed from their scripted speeches to make political statements.

And the award for Best Oscar Speech goes to… Sean Penn

2009 –– Sean Penn delivered a stand-out performance as gay rights activist Harvey Milk who was shot to death in 1978 in San Francisco. Penn was rewarded by the Academy with the Best Actor gong in 2009. Sharp-tongued Penn discussed the topic of Milk more broadly in his acceptance speech and called for equal rights for the gay community:

“I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support.”

Hear, hear!


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7 Deadly Shots From Academy Award Nominated Films 2018

OSCARS WEEK

Get Out

4 nominations | Original screenplay Jordan Peele | Actor in a leading role Daniel Kaluuya |Best picture “Get Out” | Directing Jordan Peele

Get Out featured on 7deadlythings
Daniel Kaluuya in ‘the Sunken Place’ in Get Out


The Florida Project

1 nomination | Actor in a supporting role Willem Dafoe

The Florida Project ft on 7deadlythings
The Florida Project


Dunkirk

8 nominations | Sound editing Richard King and Alex Gibson |Original score Hans Zimmer | Film editing Lee Smith | Sound mixing Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker and Gary A. Rizzo | Cinematography Hoyte van Hoytema | Best picture “Dunkirk” | Production design Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis | Directing Christopher Nolan

Dunkirk ft on 7deadlythings
Dunkirk 


The Shape of Water

13 nominations | Actress in a leading role Sally Hawkins | Actor in a supporting role Richard Jenkins | Production design Production Design: Paul D. Austerberry; Set Decoration: Shane Vieau and Jeff Melvin | Sound mixing Christian T. Cooke, Brad Zoern and Glen Gauthier | Costume design Luis Sequeira | Best picture “The Shape of Water” | Original score Alexandre Desplat | Actress in a supporting role Octavia Spencer | Film editing Sidney Wolinsky | Sound editing Nathan Robitaille and Nelson Ferreira | Directing Guillermo del Toro | Original screenplay Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor; Story by Guillermo del Toro | Cinematography Dan Laustsen

The Shape of Water ft on 7deadlythings
Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water


Blade Runner 2049

5 nominations | Cinematography Roger Deakins | Sound mixing Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill and Mac Ruth | Visual effects John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover | Sound editing Mark Mangini and Theo Green | Production design Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Alessandra Querzola

Blade Runner 2049 ft on 7deadlythings
Ryan Gosling entering Las Vegas in Blade Runner 2049


Lady Bird

5 nominations | Directing Greta Gerwig | Actress in a supporting role Laurie Metcalf | Best picture “Lady Bird” | Original screenplay Greta Gerwig | Actress in a leading role Saoirse Ronan

Lady Bird ft on 7deadlythings
Saoirse Ronan in Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird”


Call Me By Your Name

4 nominations | Best picture “Call Me by Your Name” | Original song Music: Sufjan Stevens. Lyrics: Sufjan Stevens “Mystery of Love” | Adapted screenplay James Ivory | Actor in a leading role Timothée Chalamet

Call Me By Your Name ft on 7deadlythings
Timothée Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name


The 90th Academy Awards are set for Sunday 4th (1am-ish Irish time) but you can join Jimmy Kimmel and a kaleidoscope of shining stars at a more reasonable hour on RTÉ on the Monday.

For a full list of all the nominees click here.


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