Jenn and I had both heard good things about this Roma flick in the last month or so. It was on a lot of lists as one of, if not THE best film of 2018 so we checked it out last night. It wasn’t awful but it certainly wasn’t great. What it was, was pretentious — in spades. Wowee. Black and white; tons of long, slow, panning camera shots; tons of scenes where nothing much happens and you wonder if it might be significant later but it isn’t; tons of recurring “themes” like airplanes, dog shit, and space men. I don’t have a problem with any of those things in and of themselves but when they are all done together and in a particularly boring way, I get a strong sense of someone trying really hard to be a classic annoying artist type.
The airplanes, dog shit, and space men were the most annoying parts to me because I think that inserting something a few times throughout a film is such an easy thing to do, and if it’s vague or pretentious enough, it gives the artist immediate cred with all the sycophants. Like, “ooohh, notice how prominent the dog shit is in so many of these shots. Ooohhh, notice how the car’s tire smushed that dog turd. What’s it symbolic of? Fascinating.” I don’t find it fascinating. I feel like I could make a film and toss a few random details throughout the film to create similar “themes” that people would gush and crow over, even though the things were emotionally and thematically empty. For example, here are some random things: umbrellas, incidental weather reports on the tv and radio, and a female character putting on lipstick in the background of some shots. Throw those into your snail-paced black and white flick and the Academy Awards would surely sing your praises. “The director’s take on female sexuality is at once disarming and challenging. Best film of 2019.” I really believe it’s as easy as that.
Last year, I tried The Florida Project. This year, it was Roma. Well, fuck it. I’m not falling for this ‘best film of the year’ bullshit again. From now on, I’m sticking with the shit that gets lousy reviews yet still intrigues me. All reviews are trash. That includes this one.