Mini Reviews # 12: Roma, BlackKklansman, Eight Grade, and Private Life


Roma (2018)

I was not prepared for a black and white film to look so lush and enthralling, and to just pull me in, the way it did. But the real magic lies in the fact that Cuaron knows how to both tell and write a story. Roma tells such an earnest, heart-rending story amidst all that gorgeous, artful shots. And I love that you have this very personal story in the forefront; and this grand in scope, and public in nature story of what is known as the Mexican Dirty War in the background. But still you feel that the personal story of Cleo is just as important and epic as that historical event. It is just a brilliant piece of film making marvel. I loved this to bits.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

BlacKkKlansman (2018)

I have never seen a Spike Lee joint before this. So I come into this fresh. And I must say, it feels like a piano fell from the sky and landed atop me because it is very in your face. Totally not subtle at all. But I kind of like the brio of it all. I had issues with the dialogue because the black people here speak in an affected manner, saying words like “right on, right on”, “boomshakalaka”, “fo shore” etc. I am not sure if this was intentionally done to stress the fact that lingo is an integral part of race, or perhaps to heighten the comedy? But I feel like it would still be just as hilarious without, so it could very well be the former. But I think the movie would benefit from downplaying the slang a bit, because for me it made the characters more caricaturish and less effective. But Spike Lee knows how to get our attention, fo’ sho. BlackKklansman will make you sit up and think about the sad, sad absurdity of racial prejudice. And it is so baffling how race is still a big deal, five decades down the line! It’s like we have learned nothing! (That real-life footage in the end, was particularly harrowing). And BlacKkKlansman is based on a true story, which makes it all the more deliciously ridiculous!

Rating: 4/5 stars

Eight Grade (2018)

Elsie Fisher is as real as an eight grader can get. She is a big factor in making this movie so honest. My favorite parts are the footage of her vlogs where she offers self-help tips on positivity, and confidence, and making friends etc., but her life is actually the opposite. She is awkward, and shy, and doesn’t have any friends. And in a lot of ways her vlog is not really for the subscribers, but more like a guide for herself in navigating the agonizing world of eight grade. It doesn’t work for her though because positive thinking can only get you so far (or perhaps gets you nowhere at all). Nobody really tells you that it is actually okay to be vulnerable. And in eight grade, being vulnerable is a crime worse that death. And in this directorial debut, Bo Burnham does a solid job of giving us a detailed (social media, crushes, peer approval…the works) and honest (and sometimes painful) look at eight grade life.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Private Life (2018)

I know roughly three couples who have had trouble conceiving and went through the whole fertility hullaballoo. I am familiar with the words IUI and IVF; of extracting eggs, and washing out bad sperms; of having to drink this and that pill. I know that the whole thing is stressful and emotionally draining, and I think Netflix’s Private Life captured that with a little bit of tongue in cheek humor. But I do wish the movie asked the question: “Why do people sometimes desperately want to have kids?” This would have made the movie much more meaningful and deep. (Also, will you look at Katherine Hahn’s acting, the girl has dramatic range!)

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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