JOAN OF ART: The Masterpiece Roma, Laughs and More Laughs, Flying High, And 'Defying Gravity'

Joan Alperin

Writer, Registered Critic

Now no matter how much shopping, party planning and decorating you have to do, there's always time to take a break and just have fun. Here are some suggestions starting with...

Director Alfonso Cuaron's masterpiece ROMA, an autobiographical movie set in Mexico City in the 1970's and shot in beautiful black and white.

This is by far the best film of 2018 and perhaps the best film in decades. Cuaron has created an intimate and at the same time monumental creation to express the depths of ordinary life.

This is story that chronicles a year in the life of a middle-class family's maid (the exquisite, Yalitza Aparicio) in Mexico City in the early 1970s.

The film's events take place predominantly in the Colonia Roma neighborhood of Mexico City. Cleo (named after the Cléo character in Agnès Varda's Cléo from 5 to 7) is a maid in the household of Sofia, whose household consists of her husband Antonio, their four young children, Sofia's mother, Teresa, and another maid, Adela.

At the beginning of the film, the husband Antonio, a doctor, leaves for a conference in Quebec. Among scenes of Cleo's life with the family - her cleaning, cooking, taking the kids to and from school, serving them meals, putting the kids to bed and waking them up - it becomes clear that Sofia and Antonio's marriage is strained.

After a brief return, Antonio leaves again, saying he is going to Quebec for a few weeks. In their time off, Cleo and Adela go out with their boyfriends, Fermín and Ramón, to the theater. At the entrance, Cleo and Fermín decide to rent a room instead of seeing the movie. Fermín, while naked, shows off his martial arts skill using the shower curtain rod as a pole.

At another date, both couples meet in a movie theater, where Cleo tells Fermín that she thinks she is pregnant. As the movie is about to end, Fermín says he is going to the rest room and will be back, but then does not return and is nowhere to be found when Cleo goes outside. Cleo reveals the same concern to Sofia, who takes her to get checked at the hospital where Antonio works. The doctor there confirms her pregnancy.

Acting as his own cinematographer, Cuaron does something amazing. His construction of images, carefully considering the primary action and the background in every scene. Multiple wide shots with everything in focus play out ever so slowly.

This is a film not only of great poignancy, but one that is filled with great sensuality which you see from the film's opening...water being thrown onto the ground over and over again until the clear water turns soapy and we pan out to reveal Cleo cleaning the floor of a garage. It's a simple beautiful scene that shapes the entire film.

'ROMA is also a film that has to be seen on the big screen. If you watch it on Netflix, you will be getting just a quarter of the experience of this beautiful, moving and unique film and that would be not only a waste but a disservice to the director and actors.

I can't think of a better way to spend the weekend then to see ROMA. I've seen it twice.

Now for something on the lighter side... CHOCOLATE SUNDAES COMEDY SHOW at the Laugh Factory.

Chocolate Sundaes, Hollywood's hottest comedy show at the world famous Laugh Factory at 8001 Sunset Blvd is a great way to spend your Sundays.
The show is unlike any other comedy how you've seen, featuring your favorite comedians, a hot DJ on the 1's and 2's. Hosted by comedian Ron G ('Punk'd, 'Last Comic Standing') with Music by DJ Sidekick this show is all about fun....a lot of fun.

They showcase a powrful mix of seasoned veterans as well as up and coming comedians who you've seen on all of the major networks. Recent performers include Kevin Hart, Katt Williams, Howie Mandel, Bill Bellamy and Bob Saget just to name a few.

You never know who may be in attendance in the audience. They suggest you come dressed to impress. I suggest you just wear clothes. Nudity is frowned upon.

For more information, questions, etc email Lani at or visit The shows on December 23rd Sunday are at 7pm-8:45pm.

Now that it's legal I'm sure it's totally acceptable to share one of my favorite past times and one of my favorite place to do it especially this weekend. It's called BUDZ 7 SUDZ CANNABIS AND BEER TOUR.


This is a fun beer and cannabis combination tour. You get to see the inner workings of two to three dispensaries and two off the radar micro-beer facilities while crusing around in their luxurious 420 friendly vehicle.

The tour includes specially discounted prices on cannabis and a free beer tasting flight at each brewery you visit.

The tours take place every Saturday at 6pm-10pm. The location is Canoga Orange Line Station Parking Lot at 6770 Canoga Avenue, Canoga Park CA.

The organizers ask that you arrive 15 minutes prior to all tours.

This first class tour is put on by LA HEMP TOURS - They offer a luxury custom designed Limo party bus which comes equipped with a refrigerator, USB ports, Bluetooth, privacy shades, Spotify, beautifully upholstered party seating, air filters and illuminated marijuana ashtray's for your added convenience.

They have many different tours including Malibu Scenic Weed Tour and cater to private and special events.

For more information go to or call 424-404-0733.

Lastly one of my favorite musicals is back in town and it's called WICKED. I've seen in in New York and the last time it was at the Pantages and I'm going again this weekend. If you're wondering when I'll have time to shop, no worries. I shop for Christmas in October. So much easier.

For those of you unfamiliar with this fabulous musical, it's playing at The Pantages until January 27, 2019 so you still have plenty of time to see it in case you can't make it this weekend.

'Wicked' tells the story of two unlikely friends, Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) and Galinda (whose name later changes to Glinda the Good Witch) who struggle through opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love interest, reactions to the Wizard's corrupt government and ultimately, Elphaba' public fall from grace all the while singing some incredible and definitely memorable songs that you will be singing way after the curtain falls.

For tickets go to 'Wicked' is definitely for kids and for all adults that still have a 'kid' alive and well inside of them.

Whatever you choose to do this weekend have a great one. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and wishing you all a New Year filled with great adventures and wonderful surprises.

Joan was born in Brooklyn and spent many years working as an actress in New York City. Even though she traveled extensively, Joan couldn't imagine living anywhere else.. Well one day, she met someone at a party who regaled her with stories about living in L. A. specifically Topanga Canyon. A few weeks later she found herself on an airplane bound for Los Angeles. Joan immediately fell in love with the town and has been living here for the last twenty years and yes, she even made it to Topanga Canyon, where she now resides, surrounded by nature, deer, owls and all kinds of extraordinary alien creatures.. Joan continued acting, but for the last several years (besides reviewing plays and film) she has been writing screenplays. Joan was married to a filmmaker who created the cult classic films, (way before she knew him) Faces of Death.