The Virginia Film Festival delivers relevance and quality

“Roma” tells the story of the director’s mother’s life in Mexico City. Photo courtesy of Virginia Film Festival

Landon Roberts
Contributing Writer

The 2018 Virginia Film Festival was nestled in the heart of Charlottesville and, along with the beauty of the bronzing leaves, this year’s festival brought many heartwarming and breathtaking films.

Of the 150 films scheduled on this years program, many stood out — these are just some to get excited about when they finally reach theaters.

“Roma”

Alfonso Cuarón’s newest film is a personal story chronicling his mother’s life in Mexico City. The emotion is palpable through Cuarón’s meticulous framing, and the wide sprawling landscapes capture every detail, creating frames that feel like they belong in an art museum. The black-and-white palette also lends to a family photo album aesthetic which creates a sense of reflection on faded memories. While the beauty alone makes “Roma” worth seeing, the performances create a true masterpiece. Most of the actors are first-timers, but their emotion is so realistic it almost feels like a documentary. “Roma” releases on Netflix as an exclusive Dec. 14. However, viewers should take advantage of the limited theatrical release in order to experience the full potential of its elegance.

“The Favourite”

Sex, power and love encompass this quirky Victorian England period piece by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos. It contains every aspect of a definitive period piece, but the hilarious dialogue and exceptional direction turn the genre on its head. These aspects play exceptionally well into the plot of two servants competing over the affection of the queen. The three main roles are played by Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. They all bring a sort of sadism and carefree attitude, creating both hilarious and tense scenes. However, behind all these moments of ferocity and hilarity lies a subtle touch of admiration that becomes more noticeable as the film goes on, leading to a gut-punching finale that will leave audience members talking long after the credits roll. “The Favourite” hits theaters Nov. 23.

“Shoplifters”

Director Hirokazu Kore-eda pulled off a challenging and heartwarming film with “Shoplifters.” The film follows social misfits and outcasts in urban Japan, creating a family-like dynamic while thieving to survive. The familial dynamic in “Shoplifters” is incredibly entertaining to watch. The lively energy of the characters that range from young to old allows viewers to see themselves in at least one of the characters, making them part of the family. This deep connection makes realizations hurt even more, leading to heartbreak and distrust. Everything builds up to a thought-provoking question of “what makes someone good or bad?” as well as the true definition of family. “Shoplifters” will have a limited release starting Nov. 23.

“Widows”

The recent trend of heist films has created formulaic and predictable plotlines, but Steve McQueen’s “Widows” breaks this trend. After a team of criminals participates in a job gone terribly wrong, their wives must finish what the men started in order to pay off debts. The brutal motives are well executed, leading to magnetic and intriguing action set pieces. Almost every action scene is done in a one-take format that allows the viewer to experience the build-up and the inevitable payoff, leaving them with the same shock or excitement the characters are experiencing. Challenging gender roles is a prevalent yet subtle theme, creating a nuanced take on the subject. “Widows” will be released worldwide Nov. 13.

“Virginia 12th”

With Election Day past us, this documentary takes a look at the work politicians and student organizers put into campaigning. The subject is Chris Hurst who is running for the 12th District in the state’s House of Representatives. The film gives a transparent look into his fears, decision-making and campaign tactics. The true power of the documentary is found within this transparency. The idea of a politician being the sole voice for a community is broken by showing how a connection between the community and politicians is the most vital point to our democracy. The film is now available to stream on NowThis News.

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