Reaching the mountain top of our careers requires hard work, drive, and sacrifice. But the question begs, how much sacrifice is needed to get to that peak?
In the 2010 film, Black Swan, Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is a ballet dancer living and working in New York City. Dance is everything to her, she has no life outside of it. After her company’s former prima ballerina Beth Macintyre (Winona Ryder) is pushed out of the company, the door opens for Nina to play the title role in The Black Swan. Pushed by her former ballet dancer mother, Erica (Barbara Hershey), and her artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) to succeed, Nina pushes herself to breaking point. Adding to the pressure is competition from the newest member of the company, Lily (Mila Kunis). Will Nina get to play the part and if she does, what will it cost her?
This film is absolutely fantastic. The performances are compelling and powerful. The duress that Nina is under radiates from the screen. I felt the urge to pull Nina out of the film, hug her, and tell her that everything will be fine, regardless of the outcome. The screenplay has a delicious Alfred Hitchcock undertone, grabbing the audience by the throat and refusing to let go until the screen go black.
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.
The fish out of water story is a common one. But at its core, it’s a simple story. It’s up to the writer to make sure that their narrative stands out.
In the 2002 film, Mr. Deeds, Longfellow Deeds (Adam Sandler) is a small town pizzeria owner/poet. Then he finds out that he is the heir to the fortune of a deceased uncle and moves to the big city. Babe Bennett (Winona Ryder) is a tabloid reporter who pretends to be a small town girl to get the scoop on the town’s newest billionaire. Babe expects merely to get her story and move on. Longfellow expects that his new-found fortune would change him. But as they say, mortals plan, G-d laughs.
A reboot of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur, Mr. Deeds attempts to update the narrative for the 21st century. Unfortunately, this is is a paltry remake that nearly ruins the reputation if it’s predecessor.
Life immediately after college is often very confusing. The expectation is to get a job, eventually settle down, maybe a have a kid or two and lead a generally quiet life But what happens when this expectation does not meet reality?
In the 1994 film, Reality Bites , Lelaina (Winona Ryder) creates a mockumentary of her post college experience. Her best friend, Troy (Ethan Hawke) is a musician who has lost several minimum wage jobs. Her other friends, Vickie (Janeane Garofalo) and Sammy (Steve Zahn) are grappling with their own issues. Vickie is anticipating the results of an AIDS test while Sammy is in the closet. Then, along comes Michael (Ben Stiller), who offers Lelaina a career making opportunity. Now she must choose not only the life she wants, but the man she wants in her life.
I have two thoughts on this movie. The first is that the feelings and experiences of the characters feel very universal. Those of us who do complete college most often come out of it with a question what to do with our lives. Without the structure we have had for the last two decades, our life feels incomplete. But on the other hand, this movie is very Gen-X specific and it does feel a little dated.
Daniel Day Lewis is one of the best actors of his generation. A versatile, powerful actor, he disappears into his roles, making the audience forget that what they are seeing is fiction. But isn’t that the mark of any good actor?
Based on the classic Broadway play by Arthur Miller, The Crucible, based in Salem, Massachusetts, set during the infamous Salem Witch trials. John Proctor (Daniel Day Lewis) has foolishly had an affair with Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder), the teenaged niece of a local clergyman. When accusations of witchcraft begin to overtake the town and his wife Elizabeth (Joan Allen) is accused of witchcraft, John must face his neighbors and be able to look in the mirror at the same time.
This movie is extremely powerful. While it was based on the hunt by the American government for communists in the early 1950’s, it holds up as the fight between just going along with the crowd or standing up for what you believe in.
Four years earlier, Daniel Day Lewis was the lead character in The Last Of The Mohicans, based on the book of the same name by James Fenimore Cooper. Hawkeye or Nathaniel Poe (Daniel Day Lewis) is a frontiersman in upstate New York during the French and Indian War. A romance is initiated with a British colonel’s daughter, but a war on both sides of the border brewing, Nathaniel must decide what is the best course of action for his life.
This movie is not as good as The Crucible, but it is a window into the world of rural pre-revolutionary era America that no longer exists.
Little Women, for me as a reader, was a rite of passage. I was introduced to the March sisters at a young age. A precursor of my addiction to classic literature by female authors in the 18th and 19th centuries, Little Women holds a place in my heart.
There have been several film adaptations of the novel. The most recent big screen adaptation was released 20 years ago. Inhabiting the lives of the March sisters are Trini Alvarado (Meg, the sensible eldest sister), Winona Ryder (Jo, the tomboy who wishes to be a writer), Claire Danes (Beth, the homebody) and Kirsten Dunst / Samantha Mathis (wild child Amy). Rounding out the cast is Susan Sarandon as Mrs. March, Christian Bale as Laurie, Gabriel Byrne as Friedrich Bhaer and Eric Stoltz as John Brooke.
I like this movie. It’s true to the book while not sacrificing cinematic quality. This movie is good and still holds up after 20 years.