FQ’s new books editor Carla Marcantonio reflects upon her experience serving as Netflix’s official translator for Yalitza Aparicio, the Indigenous Mexican woman who plays the housekeeper in director Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma. Marcantonio explores themes that emerged over the course of the film’s promotional campaign, ranging from the expected (the film’s social impact and depiction of a makeshift matriarchy) to those less discussed, such as the film’s significant political context and critique of patriarchy, masculinity, and violence. In closing, she offers a counter-argument to the interpretation that Cuarón denies Cleo her agency by limiting her spoken lines, arguing that Cuarón’s masterful use of cinematic language allows Cleo’s voice to come through loud and clear.
FQ Columnist Amelie Hastie offers a unique and personal meditation on cinema’s affective qualities, particularly the sentiment of love. She traces Cuarón’s exploration of cinema’s fundamental humanism back to Jean Renoir and continues through the Italian Neo-Realists, particularly Vittorio de Sica. She discusses Cuarón’s intellectual formation as a student of cinema, and finds a consistent emphasis on women’s experiences throughout his films. Introducing Cuarón’s description of Roma as an “inquiry” into the relation between “foreground” and “background,” she delves into scenes where character and social environment converge.
Sergio de la Mora reviews Roma’s reception in Mexico and reflects upon the film’s intimate relationship with the nation’s political history. Situating Roma with the broader trend in Latin American cinema for films that explore servant-employer relations, he examines how Roma visualizes the ways in which Indigenous domestic and intimate labor has been historically racialized and gendered in Mexico. He discusses the controversy surrounding Cleo’s voice and agency in the film along with the aesthetic debates prompted by Cuarón’s decision to film in black and white.
FQ Columnist Caetlin Benson-Allott bids farewell to her column “Platforming” with a focus on the film EUROPA REPORT. When I began writing “Platforming” three years ago, my goal was to create an ongoing reflection on the ways that new production and exhibition technologies were changing narrative film and the spectatorial experience.In pushing the definition of platform to include the material substrates and ideological codes that shape motion pictures, I wanted to consider how the feature film as a narrative system responds to technological change and to articulate the ways that platforms express social value. It would be antithetical to such inquiry to end the platform that has been this column with a gesture towards consummation or closure. So instead I want to interrogate the stakes of closure and similar narrative conventions with a film that does likewise.
With Pan’s Labyrinth, however, writer-director Guillermo del Toro has built on his proven skills in fantasy (Hellboy in 2004) and Spanish history (The Devil’s Backbone from 2001) to produce a work that is at once a logical development of his artistic trajectory and a wholly unexpected masterpiece from a director identified with such low-status genres as horror