Little Women (2019) Review

Little Women (2019)

Directed by Greta Gerwig

Based on Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel, Chris Cooper

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters – four young women each determined to live life on their own terms.

My Opinion:

I’m not on the Greta Gerwig bandwagon. Her movies are decent. But neither this nor Lady Bird are “Best Picture” material. Yay for a woman being recognised by the Academy finally, I guess? But why Gerwig? There are better films that have been made by women. Okay – I’ll shut up now before I get in trouble. At least her movies are more worthy than her male partner’s (I thought Marriage Story was a self-indulgent snoozefest). I also admit to not being able to stand Emma Watson. Saoirse Ronan is okay but will never ever be a favorite actress of mine. Yeah, I know – I’m old so these people aren’t my generation. I know they have their fans. I also don’t get the Timothée Chalamet thing. Fuck it – I like what I like! I’m not going to pretend to like movies or actors just because they’re currently popular. So I went into this with low expectations.

Well, hell. I quite enjoyed this movie. I have a huge embarrassing confession to make, though. Although I read a lot & do try to read some books before watching the film adaptations, I never read Little Women. More surprisingly, I have also never seen any other film adaptations. And even more surprising than that, I’ve managed to almost completely avoid spoilers for this story for over 40 damn years (other than about Beth). Honest to god, I didn’t know how this story would play out. And I loved that. I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this story. However, is that thanks to Gerwig & some actresses I don’t particularly like? No but I’m glad they made it a fun watch & I even managed to not hate Emma Watson despite her making her usual scrunchy “acting face”. I should’ve read this book. Why didn’t they make us read this one in school?! Damn American educational system! Because this is a good story and I loved it. These characters are great and I loved how different their personalities were. I can see how everyone will have a favorite character from this story. Not sure who my favorite is but I’m going to read the book to decide that as they could be quite different (Florence Pugh was a lot of fun as Amy but I’m guessing she’s the most unlikeable in the book).

Luckily, the British educational system did make my hubby read this one as a kid (he’s a Beth fan, though I’m sure he’ll correct me if I got that wrong). One thing I’ll say is that he absolutely hated how they messed with the linear narrative of the original story. The movie’s story jumps around a lot and some very big reveals are shown right away, which he thinks will have ruined the story for me and for anyone one else who may also be new to Little Women. I have to say the nonlinear structure didn’t work well and, yes – it did ruin what could have been some very big moments. What a shame. Why mess with such a classic? The time jumps also weren’t portrayed well as the characters didn’t look much different despite it sometimes being years later, making it slightly confusing if you weren’t paying close attention (we could hear the people in front of us talking to each other & often being confused as to what just happened). Oh, Amy has bangs/a fringe… We must be in the past again! It was a stupid way to try to be “clever” with a story that people have been perfectly happy with for years. So, what can I say? I enjoyed this movie but let’s be honest: The credit goes to Louisa May Alcott. It’s a brilliant story. I loved it. I’m sorry I haven’t yet read the book. Shame on me.

My Rating: 7/10

Le Mans ‘66 (Ford v Ferrari) (2019) Review

Le Mans ‘66 (aka Ford v Ferrari) (2019)

Directed by James Mangold

Starring: Matt Damon, Carroll Shelby, Christian Bale, Ken Miles, Jon Bernthal, Lee Iacocca, Caitriona Balfe, Mollie Miles, Tracy Letts, Henry Ford II, Henry Ford, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Remo Girone, Enzo Ferrari, Ray McKinnon, JJ Feild, Jack McMullen, Gian Franco Tordi, Benjamin Rigby, Ben Collins, Francesco Bauco, Joe Williamson, Alex Gurney, Corrado Invernizzi, Wallace Langham

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a determined team of American engineers and designers, led by automotive visionary Carroll Shelby and his British driver, Ken Miles, who are dispatched by Henry Ford II and Lee Iacocca with the mission of building the Ford GT40, a new racing car with the potential to finally defeat the perennially dominant Ferrari racing team at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France.

My Opinion:

I liked this film a lot. It’s weird – I hate sports but quite often enjoy sports-related movies. Probably because they give the stories the Hollywood treatment, which makes the events more exciting than they were in real life? Maybe. But more than anything I like how they focus on the people and their relationships outside of that sport. I care more about the outcome when I know a little bit about the people who are competing. I felt similar when watching Rush, which was another fantastic movie in this genre. I slightly preferred Rush (possibly thanks to Chris Hemsworth’s butt) but both movies made me care about the characters AND the races. Plus the best part about not being a sports fan? I had no idea who would win any of these races! Watching the final race in this one was intense. I loved it.

Matt Damon & Christian Bale were both great and I’d be happy to see either of them get nominated for Oscars for these roles. I especially liked Bale and I cannot stand that dude. I think this is the first time I liked him in a movie but Ken Miles was a great & complex character (although I have no idea how accurate this film is compared to the real-life Miles & Carroll Shelby). He was hot-tempered (so probably a piece of cake for Bale) but also very loving with his wife & son. His wife, played by Caitriona Balfe, was also a strong character and I’m glad we got to see him with his family as well as with Shelby as that’s what made us care about him.

We didn’t see any of Shelby’s personal life, though from what I’ve read it probably wouldn’t have made for as much of a feelgood film so I can see why they focused on Miles and his family instead. With Shelby, the focus was on his career & on his relationship with Miles. As the movie feels more like it’s about Ken Miles, though, I can see it being likely that Bale gets more of the attention during Awards season but Damon was also very good in this – he’s just far more understated.

By the way – I definitely prefer the American title of Ford v Ferrari. It’s weird when they change the titles of movies for other countries. I wonder why they changed it for the UK? I suppose I could Google that if I wasn’t lazy. Doesn’t matter – it’s a good film either way. I’m glad I decided to watch it despite not loving the genre, although it’s a “one-time watch” sort of movie for me.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Lady Bird (2017) Review

Lady Bird (2017)

Directed & Written by Greta Gerwig

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Lois Smith

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in Sacramento, California in 2002, it is a coming-of-age story of a high-school senior (Ronan) and her turbulent relationship with her mother (Metcalf).

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this. It’s indie, though, so I had to go to a fancy, snobby cinema to actually be able to see it. There were sofas & fucking cushions. People had tea delivered to them. I don’t drink tea. I just wanted to stuff my face with popcorn. So I just sat there hungry instead (but comfy!).

Here’s a funny thing: I sat next to what appeared to be a grandmother with her 20-something granddaughter. They were talking about films (Yay! My kind of people) and the grandmother was talking about drive-ins and what they’re like in America. She told the granddaughter she needs to go to America sometime. The girl scoffed & said “Ha. No thanks! I’m alright. Not at the moment!“. I smiled to myself. Ahh… My home country is well & truly fucked. British people used to dream of visiting America. Now the thought of going there seems insane and potentially dangerous. What the fuck has happened? You don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Shall I actually talk about this movie, which is nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Original Screenplay? Does it deserve all the acclaim? Hmm. Yes & no. Maybe in the acting categories, at least. It’s a good coming of age film, a subgenre I love, but it’s not the absolute best of its kind that I’ve seen. I probably slightly preferred the previous  year’s The Edge Of Seventeen. Where were the nominations for that female-directed & written film??

The Oscars are going to get more interesting now & I’m very glad that they’re going to be more inclusive. But……. I dunno. Should Lady Bird be up for Best Picture & Director? I’m not sure about that but I don’t mind seeing it nominated for Best Picture. Lady Bird & Get Out do look like the odd ones out when looking at the more heavyweight nominees but not all movies have to be boring, heavy dramas to be good films. What I really want to see is the Oscars being more inclusive of ALL genres of films, regardless of who made them. A good movie is a good movie. The Oscars have always hated things like fantasy, science fiction, comedy, and horror. Brilliant films seem to be ignored if they’re not some boring ass historical drama that the majority of the public has no interest in seeing. The nominee I’m happiest about this year is The Shape Of Water. That’s slightly out of the Academy’s comfort zone. I want more stuff like that at the Oscars! Now if they can just accept science fiction… Arrival only getting ONE Oscar (Sound Editing) is a damn crime!!! Screw you, Academy!

Back to Lady Bird. I loved the tumultuous relationship between mother & daughter (Saoirse Ronan & Laurie Metcalf, both deserving of their nominations). Being both a mother & a daughter, I can confirm that it can be a complicated relationship at times & the film makes these characters feel real in their feelings & behavior. I’d have actually liked it to focus even more on the mother/daughter relationship than it did. I’d have liked slightly more time spent on Lady Bird’s relationships with her whole family, but the film does well with the character development in its hour & a half running time.

We get to see a lot of Lady Bird’s life at school with her best friend and with a couple of love interests. I loved her best friend (Beanie Feldstein). It made me wish I’d had a female friend in high school! But I went to school with a bunch of bitches. Lucas Hedges, from Manchester By The Sea, did well but there’s not a lot of time spent on him. And I finally got to see this Timothée Chalamet kid in a movie. He’s fine – it’s not a huge role and he’s an annoying rich boy so I’ll need to see him in more stuff. I still badly want to see Call Me By Your Name. Saoirse Ronan is the star of this, though, and I’m amazed that I never thought about the fact that she does NOT sound American in real life, so she must have done the accent well! Ronan & Metcalf make this film better. Without them, I’d have found it pretty average. But I kept hearing Andy’s mother from Toy Story… She didn’t have this much trouble with Andy!

Lady Bird is good but it’s indie and it’s definitely aimed more at females and at teenagers. Is it All-Time-Greatest-Best-Picture material? Not really. I’ve seen other coming of age films more worthy of Oscar nominations but I’m glad the Academy, through recognizing a wider variety of filmmakers, is probably going to end up giving us more variety in the film genres that receive nominations. Not all movies have to be The English Freaking Patient. (Lady Bird is far better than that one…)

My Rating: 7/10