“Little Women” Non-Spoiler Review!

A century and a half has passed since Louisa May Alcott first set pen to paper and sat down to write the semi-autobiographical story of four sisters’ journeys towards adulthood, but the tale of the “little women” is still just as relevant and iconic nowadays as it was back in 1868. And visionary director Greta Gerwig has lovingly (and masterfully) crafted an adaptation of Alcott’s classic that is not only faithful to the original book, but more in line with both modern sensibilities and Alcott’s own feminist philosophy than any previous iteration.

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Gerwig has, first and foremost, chosen to tell the story in a non-linear fashion: while this decision may confuse the unwary (which is why I’m warning you in advance), it is a conscious choice that enables Gerwig to have what are essentially two stories simultaneously playing out onscreen, linked through flashbacks, flash-forwards, and what some may view as a bit of fourth-wall breaking – one story being the first half of the novel Little Women, covering the March sisters’ adolescence and happy, hazy childhood, awash in golden lighting; the other being the novel’s latter half, the grimmer, bleaker post-Civil War era, in which the March sisters have all grown up and gone their separate ways, and heroine Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) is beginning to more closely resemble Alcott herself. But while this might at first appear to be a narrative trick to keep the story compelling, it becomes clear in the film’s final minutes that there’s a shockingly exciting reason for the non-linear structure, one that will make Gerwig’s Little Women a topic for debate for many years to come. Keep your eyes peeled, for Gerwig drops plenty of clues and hints as to what’s coming in the finale, but you still might be caught off-guard if you’re not looking – or you might even miss it altogether.

Little Women is beloved because of its cast of extremely relatable and interesting characters, many of whom are best known to movie-lovers through the 1994 adaptation of the novel that starred Winona Ryder as the rebellious, free-spirited heroine, and a young Christian Bale as her love interest, charming, carefree Laurie. But Gerwig’s Jo and Laurie are slightly more modernized than the prim and proper couple of that film: Laurie, here excellently portrayed by rising star Timothée Chalamet, is a gentle, easygoing, and somewhat gender-neutral character who feels like the perfect soulmate to Saoirse Ronan’s socially awkward but passionate Jo – neither is entirely comfortable within the constraints laid upon them by their gender, but neither can do anything but fight the system in small ways – whether that means marrying for love or trying to establish their own place in the world. To reinforce the essentially gender-fluid relationship between the stars, Gerwig even had Ronan and Chalamet swap articles of clothing onset in order to break down the boundaries between them.

Personally, I’ve always been a huge fan of Jo March: it’s sort of a mandatory thing, I think, for most writers. We love her not just because of how sympathetic her daily struggles are, but because of how she chooses to use the written word as a weapon in her fight – hers is a pen far mightier than any sword.

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But Gerwig also allows the other March siblings to have their chance to shine: romantic, idealistic Meg (Emma Watson) is finally given a leg to stand on in her ongoing struggle with her character’s critics and detractors, who have always claimed she’s the least feminist of the sisters, and the most outdated in this modern age. Petty, vainglorious Amy (Florence Pugh) is actually respectable in Gerwig’s film – yes, she’s still a brat, but she’s also forced to grow up too quickly and bear a heavy burden upon her shoulders; she’s the only one of the March sisters who has a chance of marrying well, and for women in Alcott’s era, marriage was a woman’s only respectable method of achieving success. Amy’s speech to Laurie in which she details all the ways in which marriage is nothing but “an economic proposition” is one of the film’s most powerful scenes. Then there’s poor Beth (Eliza Scanlen), who is crucial to the story’s plot but still never quite rises above being the shy, pious outlier in the group without very much to say or do.

On the sidelines, Laura Dern and Meryl Streep have small but excellent performances as Marmee and Aunt March, respectively. Streep, especially, is a delightful addition to the cast with her biting wit, passive aggressive humor, and dainty mannerisms. Louis Garrel has the thankless job of portraying Professor Friedrich Bhaer, one of the most purposefully disappointing characters in Alcott’s novel, but he plays the role as well as he possibly can.

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Little Women is also an exceptionally beautiful film, with a myriad of dreamy, pastel-colored scenes that look almost like they leaped straight from the painter’s canvas onto the big screen (a special shout-out goes to cinematographer Yorick Le Saux, who apparently had the camera follow the Marches like a “fifth sister”, dancing and twirling with them on their youthful frolics and adventures, giving the audience a chance to feel even more connected to the close-knit cast). The production and costume design are superb: every detail of the March family’s dark, cozy homestead and every accouterment of high-society Parisian fashion is lovingly crafted.

Greta Gerwig deserves the Oscar for Best Director, and the fact that just this morning it was revealed that she is one of a multitude of talented women not on the Academy Awards shortlist for that honor is a travesty. What she has designed, directed and delivered is a love-letter to both Alcott’s novel and to Alcott herself, who was forced to play a part all her life and sacrifice her artistic freedom. A century and a half later, Gerwig has finally done justice to this author’s work in a way that seemed almost unimaginable to me, going into the theater. Little Women is an instant classic, despite how hard Hollywood will try to ignore or downplay this incredible work of art.

Movie Rating: 9/10

“Free Guy” Trailer Review!

A lot of people thought Ryan Reynolds’s signature brand of crazy, edgy, meta humor would be suffocated under the Disney label, but the first trailer for his comedy action movie Free Guy proves that Reynolds isn’t going to be easily dissuaded from doing whatever he wants – including poking fun at the Mouse House in the first few moments of the trailer: the opening title cards read “From the studio that brought you Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King, followed after a beat by “Twice”). And from there on out, Free Guy looks like a wildly fun, unabashedly ridiculous movie that fans of Reynolds will love.

Reynolds plays an NPC (non-playable character) named Guy, trying to live his life in the background of a gigantic, action-packed video game filled with explosions, car/motorcycle/helicopter/fighter plane crashes, and daily heists and hostage crises at the bank where he works. But one day, he can’t take it anymore, and sets out to change his tiresome routine by becoming the hero of his virtual reality. So basically this movie is what would happen if Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph and 20th Century Fox’s Deadpool had a baby – or rather, it is what happens when Disney and 20th Century Fox merge and start making movies together.

The trailer looks comedic and entertaining in a 90’s sort of way, with catchy music, bright colors, and a familiar cast of characters. It looks fun: nothing more, nothing less. I had been expecting something a little more unpredictable, but what we’ve got looks good enough for right now.

Trailer Rating: 6.9/10

“No Time To Die” Trailer Review!

Yesterday, Marvel Studios had to abruptly shift the release for their first Black Widow trailer to the middle of the night so as to give themselves ample room to break the internet before the hotly-anticipated first trailer for No Time To Die dropped. And now we can see why. The trailer for Daniel Craig’s final James Bond movie is finally here, and it looks like the sort of film that Black Widow, with its similar spy-thriller vibes, will probably want to keep at arm’s length. But considering that both films are going to be released within the span of a few weeks, they will eventually come head-to-head, and it will be very interesting to see which one comes out on top.

No Time To Die has the advantage of being the latest installment in a well-established franchise, and fans are going to want to see Daniel Craig in the role of James Bond, since he’s made it very clear this is his last time playing the character. Fittingly, the plot of this movie revolves around Craig’s Bond coming out of retirement in Jamaica and being roped into a nefarious conspiracy. But along the way, he will end up passing the torch (sort of) to a new agent 007, this one a young black woman played by the extraordinary Lashana Lynch. Lynch’s character, named Nomi, may be new to the franchise, but she’s already charismatic and captivating in this first trailer, telling the middle-aged Bond to stay in his lane unless he wants her to put a bullet in his knee – “the one that works,” she adds. With her glamour and winning personality (and Phoebe Waller-Bridge writing all of this film’s female characters), Lynch is almost guaranteed to be one of the best things about this new Bond movie, and hopefully she’ll get to stay in the franchise for some time.

As for Rami Malek, his performance as the villain Safin is probably going to be hindered by the ghostly Phantom Of The Opera mask his character is wearing throughout most of the trailer. Hopefully the Oscar-winning actor has something more to do than just deliver villain speeches. Not that he won’t knock those villain speeches out of the park, but still, this is a Bond movie – give him something to do!

All in all, the film looks good: I do want to see more action, however, as most of what we see in the trailer consists of the standard building-blocks of any spy-movie trailer: cars careening over cliff roads? Check. Bicycle chase through a seaside village in Italy? Check. There are a couple of things that Bond has that other spies don’t, however – specifically, an Aston Martin with machine guns in the headlights. Stylish.

So what do you think? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 8.5/10

Bee Gees Biopic In Development At Paramount!

I’ve gotta get a message to you, dear film-aficionado: get your fancasts ready, jive to the sweet sounds of 70’s pop, and rejoice – the Bee Gees, one of the world’s most beloved and recognizable music groups, are finally getting their own movie. Following the huge success of films like Bohemian Rhapsody (the Academy-Award winning Queen biopic), and Rocketman (the Academy-Award hopeful and Elton John biopic), and the promise of more to come (a…Boy George biopic?), the Bee Gees, whose personal lives are a dramatic and compelling story of triumph and heartbreak, accompanied by an upbeat disco soundtrack, were inevitably going to end up on the big screen at some point – nonetheless, it’s very exciting to see it happen in the lifetime of Barry Gibb, the last surviving member of the band (Maurice died in 2003 of medical complications at the age of 53, while Robin died from cancer in 2012, aged 62).

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It’s also exciting that Paramount will be the ones to make the film. While that’s not entirely surprising (they are, after all, the studio that brought you Rocketman, mentioned above), it is especially fitting since it was a Paramount movie, Saturday Night Fever, that helped to turn the Bee Gees into the household name they are today: the film’s soundtrack, for which the group wrote iconic songs such as “Stayin’ Alive”, became the best-selling movie soundtrack of all time upon its release in 1977 and, in the words of music supervisor Bill Oakes, “breathed new life into a genre that was actually dying”. And now, perhaps because of that fateful union of film and music, the Bee Gees themselves will be stayin’ alive in the memory of filmgoers for years to come. It brings a tear to the eye, that’s for sure.

Paramount has bought the rights to the story of Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, and all of their music, and Bohemian Rhapsody producer Graham King is already attached to the film. So, while Paramount searches for a writer and director, it’s time for us fans to start considering who should be cast in the lead roles (since, obviously, that’s the most important question). Share your suggestions in the comments below!

“Bombshell” Trailer Review!

Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie are on fire in the new trailer for Bombshell, which recounts the explosive birth of the MeToo movement out of the wreckage of FOX News founder Roger Ailes’s downfall. And for Kidman and Theron at least, Bombshell could land them some well-deserved Oscar nominations.

The film tackles a difficult subject, with Kidman taking on the role of Gretchen Carlson, the controversial FOX News host who first spoke out about Ailes’ history of sexual harassment – Carlson herself recently revealed that, due to the terms of her settlement with Ailes, she is unable to say much about the upcoming film; but that she thinks it’s “amazing” that projects such as this and the Showtime series The Loudest Voice are continuing the conversation that started in July of 2016 (it’s worth noting that women have been speaking up about these issues long before Carlson, but for whatever reason it was her revelation that sparked a sudden furor in society): but let’s not forget that Carlson has herself made sexist, transphobic, and blatantly racist remarks in the past – and even though she says she doesn’t watch FOX anymore, it’s hard to say whether those were her own opinions or Ailes’. Meanwhile, Charlize Theron is Megyn Kelly, an even more controversial character; Kelly, who came forward with allegations against Ailes not long after Carlson and got into a very public fight with then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump, is not a swell person either – during her time on FOX, she was a divisive and negative influence, and was forced to step down from her brief stint at NBC News after multiple incidents, such as defending racist Halloween costumes and encouraging body-shaming. So any attempt to portray either woman as heroines is inevitably going to court controversy – which may be why Bombshell has invented a third character, a third victim of Ailes’ unwanted advances, this one an entirely fictional young producer named Kayla Pospisil, played by Margot Robbie. While she’s not as prominent in the trailer, I feel certain the movie will make her out to be the emotional core of the complex story.

Regardless, the trailer is stirring and powerful, accompanied by a great song choice (Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy”) and intentionally walking the line between biting satire and intense drama: there are unsubtle parodies of all of FOX’s most notorious hosts and contributors walking the hallways of this newsroom, including Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro and, for whatever reason, Rudy Giuliani. And, of course, there’s Kate McKinnon to provide some of her classic wise-cracks – plus, there’s a brief appearance from D’arcy Carden of The Good Place, who is also a fantastic comedian.

So what do you think of the trailer? Is Bombshell going to be a hard sell with audiences and critics alike, or is it going to earn one of its three leads a Best Actress nomination – or a win? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 9/10