Category: Reviews – New Releases/Festivals

Image courtesy of The Orchard.

(NOTE: A version of this article originally appeared here.)

*** ½ (out of 4)

Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego’s Birds of Passage takes us to the Guajira Peninsula, a desert region in northern Colombia that also serves as the home of the indigenous Wayuu people. At the film’s start, a Wayuu clansman named Raphayet (José Acosta) wants to marry a fellow clanswoman named Zaida (Nathalie Reyes). Unfortunately, Zaida’s family, particularly her mother Úrsula (Carmiña Martínez), doesn’t take to him, and as a result, they demand that Raphayet pay an unusually hefty dowry. In order to meet their request, Raphayet decides to get into the drug trade – a decision that ends up carrying tragic consequences for him, Zaida, and everyone else in their community.

Reviews - Compare and Contrast Reviews - New Releases/Festivals

Image courtesy of Netflix.

** ½ (out of 4)

In Roma, Alfonso Cuarón takes a break from sci-fi spectacle (à la Children of Men and Gravity) and tries to return to the small-scale roots of his early career in Mexico (à la Sólo con tu pareja and Y tu mamá también). Set in 1970s Mexico City, the film constitutes a portrait of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), an indigenous housekeeper who’s a stand-in for Cuarón’s own childhood nanny. Over the course of the narrative, Cuarón tracks the relationship that Cleo develops with the family she works for: a rich doctor named Antonio (Fernando Grediaga), his wife Sofía (Marina de Tavira), their four children, and Sofía’s mother (Verónica García).

Reviews - New Releases/Festivals

Image courtesy of Universal.

* (out of 4)

Peter Farrelly’s Green Book tries to breathe new life into the interracial buddy narrative, a genre whose roots run all the way back to Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. At the film’s start, Tony (Viggo Mortensen), an Italian-American bouncer, finds himself temporarily out of work after his employer’s nightclub closes for renovations. Unwilling to work for the Mafia, he eventually agrees to become a chauffeur for Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a black pianist who’s about to embark on a concert tour through the Deep South.

Reviews - New Releases/Festivals