No one’s past is crystal clear. It is full of potholes, bad memories, and mistakes that still linger in our minds. When facing our past, we can either run from it or face it.
The new Marvel movie, Black Widow, premiered two weeks ago. It takes place between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. The film opens on an average American suburban family in Ohio sitting down to dinner. But dinner is cut short when their true identity as Russian spies is revealed and they must hightail it out of the US. It then cuts to the present. Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) has discovered a conspiracy that is tied to her previous life as an assassin and spy. When she becomes a target, she must turn to the family that was assigned to her by the spy agency. Her younger sister, Yelena (Florence Pugh), father Alexei (David Harbour), and mother Melina (Rachel Weisz) have all gone their separate ways. Revealing the source of the conspiracy and ending it requires more than a physical coming together as a group, it means facing the unhealed emotional wounds that still linger.
This movie is amazing. The action and stunts are well balanced with the humor and the emotion. As an audience member, I saw the main character as more than a superhero who is able to save the day. I saw a woman who is conflicted about both her present and her past. She makes the difficult decision to look at what she has done square in the eye instead of running from it. It a lesson that goes well beyond the genre and movies in general.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Black Widow is now in theaters.
P.S. Stay for the mid credit scene. The wait is long, but it is worth it.
For 150 years, readers have read and adored Little Women. Louisa May Alcott‘s timeless tale about the March sisters is a universal story of growing up, sisterhood and finding out who you are.
The new adaption, written and directed by Greta Gerwig, was released a couple of weeks ago.
Told in a non-linear narrative, the film starts as the girls are setting out on their own paths in life. Meg March (Emma Watson) is juggling marriage and motherhood. Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) has a day job as a private tutor and sells her stories to local newspapers. Beth March (Eliza Scanlen) remains content to be at home. Amy March (Florence Pugh) is in Paris and living with Aunt March (Meryl Streep) while she is pursuing her dream of becoming a painter.
The movie then flashes back and forth, from the present to the past. Growing up in New England during the Civil War, the girls are being raised by their mother, known as Marmee (Laura Dern) while their father fights for the North. Early in the story, Theodore “Laurie” Laurence (Timothee Chalamet) introduces himself to Jo. He is literally the boy next door and becomes Jo’s best friend.
Though some fans might disagree with Gerwig’s choice of narrative, I think it was a wise choice. Given the number of filmed adaptations of this beloved book, she chose to make her adaptation stand out because of that unorthodox narrative.
One of the things that impressed me about the film is how Amy is no longer a brat. In most adaptations and in the eyes of many fans, Amy March is disliked because she is spoiled and remains so throughout the book. But in this adaptation, Amy is spoiled like many youngest children are spoiled. But she also grows up into a woman who knows she wants, in spite of a world that would hold her back.
Anyone who has ever watched a film adaptation of their favorite book are likely to be disappointed. Changes to either character or narrative are certain. But Gerwig remains true to the text, retelling this beloved tale with a modern spirit and a reminder of why 150 years later, Little Women is a cherished novel.
For the last ten years, movie fans have come to expect a new Avengers film every year or so. All of the major male heroes (with the exception of Hawkeye) have had at least one stand-alone film over the course of those ten years.
For most of the franchise, Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) was the only woman on the team. Up until very recently, she was also without a stand-alone film of her own. The trailer was released earlier this week for Black Widow.
The movie looks fantastic. The supporting cast (Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour) looks equally fantastic. But I have to question why it took so long for Marvel to greenlight a Black Widow film?
It feels like an afterthought. Its as if Marvel is trying to stretch the franchise as far as it can go instead of following the natural narrative. This film feels like it is akin to a child giving in to the pressure from their parents to eat their vegetables. I wish it was not this way, but this is the reality that we live. Women still have to fight for the opportunities that come naturally to men.
This movie is on my must-see list for 2020. But being that it will not be released for another 6 months, we can only speculate about this film. My hope is that it does well and finally breaks the glass ceiling on female superhero films once and for all.
Little Women is one of those books. It is the literary gateway drug that for many young bookworms (myself included). I remember reading an abridged version of the novel when I was around eleven or twelve. I loved it then and almost thirty years later, that love has blossomed into a life long affection.
The trailer for the reboot written and directed by Greta Gerwig was just released earlier today. Stepping into the iconic, universal and beloved roles of the March sisters are Emma Watson (Meg), Saoirse Ronan (Jo), Eliza Scanlan (Beth) and Florence Pugh (Amy). Supporting and sometimes bumping heads with the March girls are Marmee (Laura Dern), Laurie (Timothée Chalamet ) and Meryl Streep (Aunt March).
As a friend stated on Facebook, about this trailer and the film’s potential success, ” If anyone can top Winona’s Jo, is DEFINITELY Saoirse”. I have an incredible amount of love for the 1994 adaptation, but if this version can top that love, I will love this film forever.
When one is the subject of a biopic, they are normally no longer with us or getting up in age.
The new film, Fighting With My Family, is a biopic about Paige, a wrestler who won the Divas Championship at the young age of 21. To this day, she is the youngest woman to have won the title. Today, she is in her mid 20’s.
Saraya Knight aka Paige (Florence Pugh) lives and breathes professional wrestling. Her parents earn their living and support their family by holding matches and teach wrestling to local kids in Norwich, England. Her dream one day is to be a professional wrestler with the WWE. The opportunity to see this dream become a reality comes by an offer to audition for the WWE. The problem is that Paige passes her audition and her brother Zak, who shares his sister’s dream (Jack Lowden) does not get beyond the initial audition stage.
While Paige faces the hurdle of the next stage in her training, Zak must deal with the idea that his dreams of becoming a professional wrestler will never come to pass. Can Zak make peace with the path that his life has taken and more importantly, does Paige have the fight in her to become the wrestler she has always wanted to be?
I know that it’s too early to create a top ten list of movies released in 2019. But if there was such a list, Fighting With My Family would be pretty high up on the list. The movie has humor, has a heart and is genuinely engaging. Most of all, the message of being yourself and pushing past the obstacles between yourself and your dreams speaks to all of us.
Directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, this feminist blockbuster finally broke through the boys club solo movie superhero franchise. After watching her superhero brothers in arms have multiple movie franchises of their own, Wonder Woman finally began to tell her own story. It was the perfect combination of light and dark, growing up and classic bad-ass superhero. All in all, I say it was a good movie.
Based on the real life romance of Kumail Nanjiani and his real life wife, Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan play out the ups and down of their courtship, including Emily’s extended hospital stay. Also starring Ray Romano and Holly Hunter as Emily’s parents, this film takes the standard romantic comedy and flips it on its head.
A young woman is married off to a much older man who is need of a wife and an heir. Living in an isolated English country house, she has an affair with one of the servants. The film has the bone chilling psychology of a feminist Hitchcock thriller combined with the imagery and narrative of a Wuthering Heights adaptation. Starring Florence Pugh, the film is a completely new spin on the traditional BPD (British Period Drama) that goes where few stories in the genre would dare to go.
After the collapse of the women’s section in an Orthodox synagogue in Jerusalem, the men turn to a new Rabbi. The problem is that the new Rabbi has very different ideas than what has been done before. The women are not pleased and take things into their own hands. Despite being set in a very specific community, the film is universal in its message about the consequences of pissing women off.
Set in the ultra-Orthodox community of Borough Park Brooklyn, Menashe (Menashe Lustig) is a widower who has lost custody of his son to his in-laws. He has been told that he can only take his son back when he re-marries, but he is not inclined to re-marry and is trying to prove that he can be a good father without re-marrying. A story of of faith and fatherhood, this film speaks to all of us, regardless about the trials of being a parent and observing the rules we live with.
Desperate times often calls for desperate measures. The questions are, what are we willing to give up in the process and how does that process change us?
In the new movie, Lady Macbeth (which has no connection to William Shakespeare character other than the title of the film), Katherine (Florence Pugh) is a young woman sold in the name of marriage to an older man. Forbidden from doing much of anything, Katherine is left alone with only her servants for company while her husband and father in law go out into the world. She starts sleeping with Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis), one of her husband’s groomsman. The affair quickly becomes an affair of the heart. But things get messy when her husband and father in law return home. Katherine and Sebastian try to clean up the mess they have created. But the more they try to clean it up, the messier it becomes.
The best way to describe this film is that it is a hybrid of the psychology of an Alfred Hitchcock film with the imagery and narrative of a Wuthering Heights adaptation. It also speaks truth to power about what a woman will do when she has no direct power and must use other means to get what she wants. The three things that stand out for me are a) the diverse cast b) the lack of music and how background sounds play a role in telling the story and c) how I felt as an audience member when the film was done. I disliked Katherine for her actions, but in understanding her motivation, it made for a very well done film.