By Liam Woodworth-Cook
Vacation may allow some cinematic indulgence. To merge this slouching spine of mine with the exciting semester before us; let’s break into our first edition of The Beacon with some film reviews. Given I give myself time to enjoy a movie, I’ll carry this column through the semester.
Starting with the most recent film showing; Border is a bizarre Swedish film that tastes of a distinct earthy tone. It’s rich, uncomfortable, and inventive. The narrative follows a customs agent gifted with an acute sense of smell. However, this nose doesn’t lead to grandma’s cookies. Instead, this heightened sense of smell detects people’s emotions, proving powerful enough to stop smugglers. When she encounters a man eerily similar to her she begins a quest self discovery. Ali Abbassi directs this magnificent tale capturing the lush woodlands of Sweden.
This story is a fairy tale. It may leave you perplexed, confused, and in awe. I felt as if I had gone through my own growth sprout. I walked out in a daze, reeling into a snowy twilight in Portland trying to figure how I felt about it. The fading light and snowfall seemed a fitting re-entry to the world after such film. Based on a short story (by John Ajvide Lindqvist), Abassi co-wrote the script with the author, and Isabella Eklöf. The story rolls along smoothly, with a slowness much like pouring honey. As the audience is led deeper, the speed of the film remains consistent and steady as if conscious of carefully carrying it’s passengers. Meanwhile, one’s head is being distorted in the plot’s leaps and bounds. While this film isn’t a high-speed chase, it is a rollercoaster through the depth of emotions. It’s a film to see with a blank slate of mind as you let the colors take you. This drama was full of life, with a sci-fi realism I found appealing. It left me satisfied, while inviting my curious child-self to roam in its fjords.
Cinematically, Border is energetic, whether that’s serving the dull florescent light of the customs office and hallways, or vividly delivering the rain splattering on homely cabins to your seat. It’s an unusual film that pressed an uncomfortable rattle into my head. It’s jarring and it’s supposed to be. It’s part love story, part self-actualization.
While I found some aspects of it predictable, I thought the film overall was inventive and thoughtful. The display of good/evil isn’t the classical binary. Border is a fantasy blurring nightmare and dream, captivating a spectrum of emotion; mixing and stirring, from brain to heart.
Across and down the hall, over an ocean is Roma. One of the last films I saw in 2018, this stunning narrative left me breathless. A portrait of an indigenous woman working as a live-in maid for a well off white family; this is a story of class, belonging, family and femininity. Written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, Roma is a extraordinary portrayal of a life.
Set in Mexico during the 1970’s and shot in black & white, Cuarón tells the autobiographical story of his own childhood through the life of his Nany. Long sweeping shots and a superb lead performance played by Yalitza Aparicio, capture the small moments of routine. Loving a lonely dog, sweeping the driveway of dog droppings, rooftop laundry, a romance, police riots, and heartbreak. Roma is a snapshot of a life; not following a strict plot the story dances with audience over the course of several seasons. The scenes were shot in chronological order, and the actors were given the script/plan on a day by day basis. Roma glides in both screaming and weeping silence. It is fierce, majestic, and powerful.
It evokes memory; it floats, it trembles and Roma bellows agony and beauty. Roma is complete. It captures not only a family and the challenge/margins of inclusion and representation, Roma captures the viewer by sewing them into the fabric of a dream, so long ago, yet visceral and lived. It is currently streaming on netflix with a running time of just over 2 hours.
Categories: Arts & Culture