January 26, 2019 · 7:28 pm
Realism. This is the word that summarizes why the film Roma is so great. It perfectly reflects the realism of Mexico’s class system. The indigenous people are at the bottom of the society, while light-skinned people who associate themselves with Europeans rule the land.
I well remember the servants I saw in Mexico. They were from the lower rungs of the ladder. One of my relatives was extremely poor and barely had the funds to survive. But somehow she always found some change in her purse. It was enough to hire neighboring ladies to do some house work; washing dishes or laundering or ironing clothes. The ladies would be extremely grateful as the change they earned might provide their family with food for a day.
Roma shows prosperous Americans what the life of an indigenous maid in Mexico is like. It also displays the role of politics in every Mexican’s life and how they react to and handle the current political situation. And, sometimes disturbingly, it shows the violence in the country that is never displayed on U.S. news programs.
In one situation, Roma shows how everyone helps in an emergency. The point is well made that we are all dependent upon each other as human beings, regardless of social status.
Roma is surprisingly good. I believe it has a solid chance to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. If it does it will break the glass ceiling in unique fashion and serve as a meaningful tribute to the lives of proud, striving and hardworking people.
Alejandro Reyes is a former production line supervisor for Procter and Gamble. Educated in Stockton, California, he is enjoying retirement in sunny southern California.
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Tagged as 2018 films, 2019 Academy Awards, Alejandro Reyes, Alfonso Cuaron, Best Director, best films, Best Picture, California, Chicago Film Critics Association, class system, discrimination, indigenous people, Joseph's Reviews, Mexico, movie review, poverty, realism, realistic films, recommended films, Roma, servants, Stockton, the Academy Awards, violence
October 8, 2010 · 1:07 pm
Up From the Blue: A Novel by Susan Henderson (Harper; $13.99; 317 pages)
Warning: You should not take a glance at Up From the Blue, the debut novel from Susan Henderson, while you’re reading another book. I did and found it was impossible to return to the other book until I’d completely finished this well-told and very different story. It is the tale of Tillie Harris, an eight-year-old girl, whose mother disappears during a family move in 1975. Tillie’s mother has been depressed and disturbed, but never suicidal.
Tillie herself is a free spirit, a younger version of her mother who should never have married an uptight Air Force officer-engineer who designs war missiles for the Pentagon. We first meet Tillie as a pregnant adult woman who, because of some unique circumstances, must rely on her estranged father to help her get through the early delivery of her first child. Her father’s presence at the George Washington University Hospital in D.C. is the last thing Tillie wants but time and fate deprive her of other options. We start the story in present times before retreating to the nightmare that began in ’75.
This is not a horror story, but it is a story of a monster – the man who is Tillie’s father. He is a cold quasi-human being, controlling and calculating, but one who people mysteriously defer to:
Even when he’s not wearing his uniform, my dad is giving orders and people just carry them out.
This is the man who supervised the dropping of almost 90,000 tons of bombs during the Persian Gulf War, but it is his actions at home that destroyed both a family and Tillie’s hope. The young Tillie grew up wondering, “Where were the police asking if I wanted to keep my father with us or send him to jail?”
Little else of the storyline can be divulged without giving away too much. Henderson offers the reader a highly original voice. Once you identify with and latch on to the character of Tillie, you simply want to know what happens next in her troubled but realistic life. Interestingly and ironically, the one recent novel with a similar voice shares the word Blue in its title – The Truth About Delilah Blue by Tish Cohen. Cohen’s novel is one that can’t be put down and is one that approaches a seemingly predictable ending before the apple cart is upset. The same may be said about Up From the Blue.
“Sometimes what you fear, what you spend all your energy avoiding or pushing down, is not as terrifying as you thought.”
As a public service, we repeat the warning given earlier. Do not pick up this novel unless you have time in your busy life to read it all the way through. But if you don’t have the time, make the time. Henderson is an author to watch and you’ll want to brag that you read her back when she was just starting out.
This review was written by Joseph Arellano. A review copy was provided by the publisher.
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