Tag Archives: Greta Gerwig

Little Women (2019) Review

Time: 135 Minutes
Age Rating:
Cast:
Saoirse Ronan as Josephine “Jo” March
Emma Watson as Margaret “Meg” March
Florence Pugh as Amy March
Eliza Scanlen as Elizabeth “Beth” March
Laura Dern as Marmee March
Timothée Chalamet as Theodore “Laurie” Laurence
Meryl Streep as Aunt March
Tracy Letts as Mr. Dashwood
Bob Odenkirk as Father March
James Norton as John Brooke
Louis Garrel as Friedrich Bhaer
Chris Cooper as Mr. Laurence
Director: Greta Gerwig

In the years after the Civil War, Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) lives in New York and makes her living as a writer, while her sister Amy (Florence Pugh) studies painting in Paris. Amy has a chance encounter with Theodore (Timothee Chalamet), a childhood crush who proposed to Jo but was ultimately rejected. Their oldest sibling, Meg (Emma Watson), is married to a schoolteacher, while shy sister Beth (Eliza Scanlen) develops a devastating illness that brings the family back together.

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I heard quite a bit about Little Women leading up to its release, mainly the people involved with making it, and the awards hype surrounding it. Greta Gerwig’s previous movie (and her debut) was Lady Bird, which I thought was pretty decent. I didn’t read the Little Women book, not have I watched any of the previous adaptations of them, so I really didn’t know what to expect from this most recent version. However I found it to be rather fantastic really, and one of the highlights of 2019.

I can’t comment on how well Little Women does as an adaptation as I’m not familiar with the story. However this movie did such a good job at making me interested in at least checking out the version from the 90s. There are two storylines that the movie cuts between, present day and the past. For some it was jarring and indeed there are moments where it feels that way, however I actually liked how they handled it, the use of parallels worked particularly well. It’s a really heartfelt story as we follow this family through their lives. One thing I had heard going into the movie was that the ending was changed. Knowing the context of the original book and considering the main character throughout the story, I actually liked it, and it made a lot of sense. Although it took a bit for me to get into the story at the start, I didn’t feel like it stretched on for too long, even at 2 hours and 15 minutes. I was invested in what was going on from start to finish. A minor but nonetheless distracting thing is the fact that early in the flashbacks, Florence Pugh’s (who is very clearly an adult) character Amy is supposed to be 13, however for whatever reason they had a scene with her in school with actual 13 year olds. That choice was more than a little distracting, but the scene lasted for less than a minute. Outside of that there aren’t many problems I had with the movie.

The cast on the whole were outstanding. Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson and Eliza Scanlen play the March sisters, and they all work really well, especially with each other. Ronan gives one of her best performances, and Pugh was a standout. Laura Dern does well as the mother of the March sisters, and Timothee Chalamet gives quite possibly my favourite performance from him. The rest of the supporting cast was solid too, with the likes of Meryl Streep, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk Chris Cooper and others really working.

Greta Gerwig directed this movie exceptionally well. It is larger scale compared to Lady Bird, yet manages to make much of this movie feel very personal. I can’t tell how previous versions handled the story, but her version was done in a way where today’s audiences can easily get into it. Everything for the time period works perfectly, from the costumes, to the production design, and more. It’s such a visually stunning movie and looks great, very well shot by Yorick Le Sauz. The score by Alexandre Desplat was quite good and was also fitting for the movie.

Little Women surprised me by in how great it was. Greta Gerwig has directed and written this exceptionally, and the cast all played their parts well. I have seen some people say that this adaptation of the story has the potential to be a future classic, and I can honestly see that happening. Even if you don’t think you’ll like it, I still highly recommend checking it out as soon as you can, it’s one of my favourites of the year.

Isle of Dogs (2018) Review

Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence and Coarse Language
Cast:
Bryan Cranston as Chief
Koyu Rankin as Atari Kobayashi
Edward Norton as Rex
Bob Balaban as King
Bill Murray as Boss
Jeff Goldblum as Duke
Kunichi Nomura as Mayor Kobayashi
Akira Takayama as Major Domo
Greta Gerwig as Tracy Walker
Frances McDormand as Interpreter Nelson
Akira Ito as Professor Watanabe
Scarlett Johansson as Nutmeg
Harvey Keitel as Gondo
F. Murray Abraham as Jupiter
Yoko Ono as Assistant Scientist Yoko Ono
Tilda Swinton as Oracle
Ken Watanabe as Head Surgeon
Mari Natsuki as Auntie
Fisher Stevens as Scrap
Nijiro Murakami as Editor Hiroshi
Liev Schreiber as Spots
Courtney B. Vance as the narrator
Yojiro Noda as News Anchor
Frank Wood as Simul-Translate Machine
Director: Wes Anderson

When, by executive decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island, 12-year-old Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies across the river in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture.

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I was looking forward to Isle of Dogs, it was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. For whatever reason, I’ve been having to wait for this film to release here when it was already released a couple months prior everywhere else, however it’s finally here. I’ve seen a few films from Wes Anderson (Grand Budapest Hotel, Fantastic Mr Fox and Moonrise Kingdom) and I liked what I’ve seen from him. With this being the second time he stop motion animated a movie (with the first being Fantastic Mr Fox), I was confident that this would be a solid movie, and that it was. It was pretty much what I expected and maybe a little bit more.

Isle of Dogs is an hour and 40 minutes long and from start to finish I was entertained. You can tell that it is definitely a Wes Anderson story. It has a very unique and original story with quirky characters, deadpan humour which is really funny and unique and is just entertaining overall. I didn’t really have too many faults with it, though there might’ve been a slight overuse of flashbacks, which does halt the story at times. Also some places and characters that the film at times cuts to (AKA characters that aren’t the main characters) really weren’t as interesting as the main storyline/characters. Isle of Dogs is kind of a kids movie, though it does go a little unexpectedly dark at times, so if you have some kids thinking that they’re going in expecting a cute film about a bunch of talking dogs, let’s just say that it won’t be what they are expecting. Aside from some minor faults, Isle of Dogs has a pretty solid story.

There is a lot of voice actors involved (Wes Anderson always seems to have a large and talented cast in his films). Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Liev Schreiber and much more consist of the voice cast, and they all did good jobs as their characters, with Cranston being a particular standout.

As I said, this is the second time that Wes Anderson has directed a stop motion animated movie and once again he did a great job. Fantastic Mr Fox was good, but his handling of stop motion animation was even better here with Isle of Dogs, it is a great looking film. Also on top of the movie feeling like a Wes Anderson written movie, it also feels like a Wes Anderson directed movie. Everything from the framing, camera position, editing, everything here really feels like his film. Now if you’re not familiar with Wes Anderson’s style in his films, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s really difficult to describe because you can’t compare his movies to anyone else’s. If you haven’t seen any of his movies before, I do recommend giving this a go. If you can’t get into Wes Anderson’s other movies because of his style, chances are Isle of Dogs won’t win you over. There was an interesting decision made, all the dialogue from the dogs are in English, however most of the dialogue by the humans are in Japanese, and a significant amount of it isn’t translated into English. It works most of the time to show the language barrier, but I only say that it works most of the time because often times someone else has to translate what they are saying in English because some of the dialogue contains plot details that we the audience need to know. The film tries to have a mix of untranslated dialogue that we don’t hear (and yet convey the message visually so we still understand what’s going on) while having English exposition explaining everything to us and it didn’t quite work as well as I think it was intended to. I think it would’ve been better sticking with one way, whether that be all human dialogue in Japanese, Japanese dialogue with subtitles or all the dialogue in English, because it felt jarring when they kept changing their method of human dialogue. It’s not a major flaw with the movie, just something that stands out that is worth addressing.

On the whole, Isle of Dogs really worked well. It was entertaining, I could get invested in the story and I just enjoyed watching it from start to finish. If you’re a Wes Anderson fan, I think you’ll definitely dig this. If you haven’t seen any of his movies before, I’d say that Isle of Dogs is a good place to start with his movies. His films may not appeal to everyone but I recommend giving it a go at the very least.

Lady Bird (2017) Review

Time: 94 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Drug use, sex scenes & offensive language
Cast
Saoirse Ronan as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson
Laurie Metcalf as Marion McPherson
Tracy Letts as Larry McPherson
Lucas Hedges as Danny O’Neill
Timothée Chalamet as Kyle Scheible
Beanie Feldstein as Julianne “Julie” Steffans
Stephen McKinley Henderson as Father Leviatch
Lois Smith as Sister Sarah Joan
Director: Greta Gerwig

Christine “Lady Bird” MacPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is a high school senior from the “wrong side of the tracks.” She longs for adventure, sophistication, and opportunity, but finds none of that in her Sacramento Catholic high school. LADY BIRD follows the title character’s senior year in high school, including her first romance, her participation in the school play, and most importantly, her applying for college.

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I had been hearing some amazing things about Lady Bird for a while in the lead up to its release, it has also been such a big player in the Awards field. Naturally I had some high expectations for it. Lady Bird is another great coming of age story with great acting but most of all a really noteworthy directional debut by Greta Gerwig. While I don’t love it as much as most people, it still really is worth seeing.

Greta Gerwig’s script was great. This is a coming of age story and it doesn’t feel cliched at all, it feels real and genuine. In fact, that’s one of the best parts about the whole movie, it felt so real. The dialogue was seamless and feels real, and something you can imagine really being said. The events that happen aren’t really that predictable, and if they do things that you can predict, chances are they are doing it in a way that you wouldn’t expect. It balances out drama and comedy pretty well. It also felt like an honest depiction of growing up. As I said earlier, I didn’t quite love this as much as everyone, it didn’t really hit me on an emotional level. However there’s not exactly anything major in particular that I can point to that I have a problem with. As a coming of age story, it is pretty great, and it doesn’t feel predictable.

Saoirse Ronan is the titular character here and this is possibly her best performance yet. A lot of the movie is riding on her performance and Ronan killed it. She’s so lovable and really does feel like a teenager going through her late adolescence. The supporting cast was great as well. Laurie Metcalf was the stand out supporting performance as the mother and she deserves some praise as well. Both Saoirse and Laurie’s character have a complicated relationship, they are completely different people and this relationship is one of the biggest parts of the movie. Their conflicts feel genuine, they never feel forced and do exactly what you’d expect them to do, and the two have great chemistry. Other supporting actors like Tracy Letts and Lucas Hedges are also good in their roles and do their part. If there was a weak link, to me it’s Timothee Chalamet, I don’t know if it’s so much his acting, it might’ve just been the character. Something about it didn’t work so well and just felt rather distracting.

For a directional debut, Greta Gerwig did a solid job. It feels like a smaller movie and it kind of benefited from that. The direction was at the level it needed to be. It wasn’t really that great, and its really more the writing that stood out as opposed to the direction.

Lady Bird is pretty great. Greta Gerwig’s writing was wonderful, the acting (particularly from Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf) was great and it was just a really enjoyable movie that does some unique things. While I’m not sure that I’m loving it as much as everyone else, I do think that it is really worth seeing. Greta Gerwig’s directional debut was really good and I can’t wait to see her do even more work.

Jackie (2016) Review

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Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language and content that may disturb
Cast:
Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Peter Sarsgaard as Robert F. Kennedy
Greta Gerwig as Nancy Tuckerman
Billy Crudup as The Journalist
John Hurt as Father Richard McSorley
Director: Pablo Larrain

After her husband’s assassination, Jackie Kennedy’s (Natalie Portman) world is completely shattered. Traumatized and reeling with grief, over the course of the next week she must confront the unimaginable: consoling their two young children, vacating the home she painstakingly restored, and planning her husband’s funeral. Jackie quickly realizes that the next seven days will determine how history will define her husband’s legacy – and how she herself will be remembered.

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Jackie was a movie I was curious about. Along with Natalie Portman and the story about Jackie Kennedy, I heard a lot of great things about it. After seeing it, I can say that Jackie is overall a solid biopic with a decent plot, good direction and great performances, Natalie Portman’s of course being the standout. It might not be one of the all time best biopics but it is absolutely worth seeing.

This image released by Fox Searchlight shows Peter Sarsgaard as Bobby Kennedy, left, and Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy in a scene from "Jackie." (Bruno Calvo/Fox Searchlight via AP)

The story of Jackie is pretty good. The movie is a character study of Jackie Kennedy and it goes into the things and situations that Jackie Kennedy had to deal with and what she was going through emotionally and mentally after the assassination of her husband. It jumps between time, between the interview between Kennedy and the interviewer (played by Billy Crudup) and the past before and after the assassination (and even after that they jump times throughout the film as well). I felt like it was a unique way of telling the story and made things more interesting than just putting it in chronological order. As for accuracies to real life, I have no idea. It seems somewhat accurate from watching the movie but that’s all I can really say, I’m not a historian. The story didn’t exactly blow me away, it wasn’t one of the all time best biopics but the story overall is decent and worked very well for the movie.

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The highlight of this movie of course is Natalie Portman and I have to say, this is one of Natalie Portman’s all time best performances, she is absolutely incredible in this movie. Much of the movie is focussed on her and her reactions to all these situations. She expresses what Jackie Kennedy is feeling so well without even having to speak. She steals the show from everyone else. The supporting cast was also pretty good. Peter Sarsgaard is also really good as Robert Kennedy, Billy Crudup was also effective as the journalist interviewing Jackie Kennedy. John Hurt is also a nice addition as a priest, he was very effect. The scenes between him and Portman were some of the best in the film. Every actor worked for what they needed to in this movie.

This image released by Fox Searchlight shows Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy, and Billy Crudup in a scene from the film, "Jackie." (William Gray/Fox Searchlight via AP)

Directionwise this movie is good. The cinematography was fitting enough for the movie. Sometimes there are shots which are okay but not anything special. Other times the cinematography was truly great. The editing was a bit interesting, it jumps around in time in its scenes, which got a little bit jarring. I don’t know what it is meant to do but something about it really worked for me. The music by Mica Levi was a standout aspect of the film, it ranged from being dreamlike to being eerie, and it really helped enhanced the scenes.

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Jackie is a solid biopic about Jackie Kennedy which was pretty good overall, the highlight being the great performances, especially from Natalie Portman. You should watch the movie even just for Natalie’s performance honestly. The rest of the film is good in regards to its story, direction and acting from its supporting cast, but Natalie Portman really makes the movie. Definitely check out the movie as soon as you can.

R.I.P. John Hurt

22 January 1940 – 27 January 2017