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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.

Ford v Ferrari (2019) Review

Time: 152 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby
Christian Bale as Ken Miles
Jon Bernthal as Lee Iacocca
Caitriona Balfe as Mollie Miles
Tracy Letts as Henry Ford II
Josh Lucas as Leo Beebe
Noah Jupe as Peter Miles
Remo Girone as Enzo Ferrari
Ray McKinnon as Phil Remington
Director: James Mangold

American automotive designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and fearless British race car driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary vehicle for the Ford Motor Co. Together, they plan to compete against the race cars of Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966.

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Ford v Ferrari was one of my most anticipated movies of 2019. With director James Mangold (Logan, Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma) helming this and with a cast that included Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Jon Bernthal and more, there was a lot of talented people involved. With that said, I wasn’t necessarily interesting in racing or race cars, so I wasn’t hyped because of the premise, but I was still interested for the talent involved in it. I actually liked this movie a lot more than I thought I would, what could’ve been a standard racing biopic is elevated immensely by the direction and the acting.

Just to preface this review, I’m not really interested in cars or racing or anything like that, nor did I have any prior knowledge of the real life events. Thankfully it’s still reasonably accessible to those people like me, you can still follow along with what’s going on without being too bored or confused. The first half of the movie is the whole creative process, and I think most of us can be interested in that if it’s handled well, whether fully understand everything that’s going on or not. The last third act for the most part is a massive racing sequence, and it’s quite a rewarding experience. In many ways, Ford v Ferrari is a standard biopic, and at times it definitely feels like it. However it was injected with quite a bit of humanity. While I’m aware that a lot of biopics also have those manufactured emotional moments placed to make the audience care a little bit about the characters, I think Ford v Ferrari does just enough for it to elevate it above most similar movies. Ford v Ferrari is rather long, it’s 2 hours and 30 minutes in fact. While the pacing is generally good and faster than you’d think it would be, I still feel like it could’ve been a little shorter. The early portions are fine but after the initial setup, that’s when the movie really picks up. A very small gripe but we don’t exactly get a sense about how much time has passed. We are told that they have 90 days to build the car but the way the movie progresses, it feels like it didn’t take more than a month.

The performances are really good, and Ford v Ferrari has quite a talented cast. Matt Damon and Christian Bale are great, and they share some convincing onscreen chemistry together. Bale particularly is great, and a real scene stealer throughout. You have some solid work from the supporting cast as well. Jon Bernthal is really good here, he’s a prominent supporting character, and thankfully gets far more screentime than he receives in most of his movies where he’d usually get up to 10 minutes max. Other actors like Josh Lucas and Tracy Letts also play their roles well.

So I said earlier about how Ford v Ferrari is really a standard biopic at its core, however a big reason why it worked so well was James Mangold’s direction. The movie is basically perfect for what it’s trying to be on a technical level. It’s a good looking movie, and they captured the time period and setting really well. And that’s even before I talk about the racing scenes, which you can probably tell are among the highlights of the movie. The racing scenes are engaging, tense and really gripping, it’s very well filmed and it really allows you to see everything and never becomes confusing. It seems that very little CGI was used. This movie cost just under $100 million and you can definitely feel it throughout, they seemed to have utilised that very well. The score by Marco Beltrami does well to helps raise the tension even further.

Ford v Ferrari may not reinvent the genre and you can probably guess 95% of the plot beats or the structure, but I can’t deny that I still had a good time watching it. What made it stand out so much was the performances (especially from Damon and Bale), but also James Mangold, who gives such humanity and energy to what could’ve just been a mediocre biopic at best, and making it something great. If you’re just looking for a racing movie with a bunch of racing tense driving scenes, the whole movie isn’t won’t be like that, but you’ll definitely get your fix here. If you’re like me and aren’t particularly interested in cars or racing, I’d still say that you can get invested in the movie and it’s well worth checking out.

The Post (2017) Review

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast
Meryl Streep as Kay Graham
Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee
Sarah Paulson as Antoinette “Tony” Pinchot Bradlee
Bob Odenkirk as Ben Bagdikian
Tracy Letts as Fritz Beebe
Bradley Whitford as Arthur Parsons
Bruce Greenwood as Robert McNamara
Matthew Rhys as Daniel Ellsberg
Director: Steven Spielberg

Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) is the first female publisher of a major American newspaper — The Washington Post. With help from editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), Graham races to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spans three decades and four U.S. presidents. Together, they must overcome their differences as they risk their careers — and very freedom — to help bring long-buried truths to light.

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There is an undeniable amount of talent and potential involved when it came The Post. With it being about The Pentagon Papers, with a cast which features actors such as Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks and being directed Steven Spielberg, it showed some signs of it being really something. However, I wasn’t as excited about it as I wanted to be leading up to its release. The Post is by no means a bad or even average movie, it’s decent enough and has some good aspects to it. However it is missing some aspects that would’ve otherwise made for a consistently riveting movie.

It takes quite a while for the movie to pick up. Focussing a movie about The Washington Post on The Pentagon Papers definitely has some potential, the problem is that it’s a bit of a wait before The Washington Post even get The Pentagon Papers. There are multiple things going on during the movie, not just The Pentagon Papers. One of the aspects is Meryl Streep’s character of Katharine Graham and her running of The Washington Post. I should be interested because it’s an important part of the movie and she is the primary protagonist but I just wasn’t that invested. I was a little more interested in The Pentagon Papers aspect. It does pick up a bit as it goes along, especially after the halfway point and it gets better from there. One problem for me is that I never felt that concerned or worried for what was happening, you don’t feel like you’re necessarily with these people as the events are going on. Of course we know the end results but there are plenty of movies based on real life where you are really wrapped up and riveted in what’s going on. The Post on the other hand just seemed to be showing events, for as hard as the decisions that Katharine Graham has to make, you don’t really feel the weight of the decisions, even if you know why these decisions are difficult for her. The Post isn’t that long at just under 2 hours long and while it can drag at points, the length wasn’t a problem. A lot of people have already called The Post and Oscar Bait movie and I can say that there are some moments where it definitely feels like it, especially with it being directed by Steven Spielberg. It’s also meant to be topical for today and while it is relevant for today, only time will tell whether it will stand the test of time with movies like All the Presidents Men.

The Post has a pretty talented cast with Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Bruce Greenwood and more. They all give commendable performances in this movie but it’s really only Tom Hanks who stood out to me. Honestly the characters aren’t that well fleshed out, so I really wasn’t that invested in them. Meryl Streep is fine, but she’s not even close to being one of the best performances in the film, I can’t tell whether its her acting or the writing she was given but for such a talented actress I was pretty underwhelmed by the performance. There are also some actors that are underused, like Michael Stuhlbarg and Sarah Paulson to a degree.

Steven Spielberg directs this movie competently enough, it’s well pieced together and edited very well. It also does well at setting itself in the 1960s. Really in terms of direction I’ve got no problems with it, it’s at the level that it needs to be, it doesn’t overshadow the plot or actors and is at a pretty high level.

The Post has some good moments, some interesting aspects, pretty good performances and commendable direction from Steven Spielberg but it seems to be lacking some things. It takes for the second half for the movie to pick up and it really didn’t consistently have my interest, though it still had my attention. If The Post interests you, I do recommend checking it out. Everyone else who isn’t interested I still recommend checking it out, but you don’t need to rush out and see it, it’s not one of Steven Spielberg’s better movies.

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.