Little Women (2019)

Little Women
Director: Greta Gerwig
Writer: Greta Gerwig
Based on: Louisa May Alcott’s novel
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel, Jayne Houdyshell, Chris Cooper, Meryl Streep
Seen on: 31.1.2020
[Here are my reviews of the 1994 and the 2018 versions.]

Plot:
Meg (Emma Watson), Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Beth (Eliza Scanlen) and Amy (Florence Pugh) are sisters, living with their mother Marmee (Laura Dern) as their father is off fighting in the war. Their lives are spent working or studying and trying to help the even poorer people in the neighborhood. In their sparetime, they like to play creatively. When their neighbor Mr. Lawrence’s (Chris Cooper) grandson Laurie (Timothée Chalamet) moves in with his grandfather, he quickly finds himself included with the girls. Together, they navigate life’s ups and downs.

There are many, many things I really love about this version of Little Women. I enjoyed myself thoroughly as I watched it. And at the same time, there are so many narrative choices here that I hate that it really speaks to the film’s quality that I still liked it a lot.

The film poster showing the four Marsh girls (Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen) looking out a window.
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Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

Mary Poppins Returns
Director: Rob Marshall
Writer: David Magee, Rob Marshall, John DeLuca
Based on: P.L. Traversbooks
Sequel to/Remake of: Mary Poppins
Cast: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson, Julie Walters, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Jeremy Swift, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury
Seen on: 19.12.2018
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Plot:
Many years ago, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) stayed with the Banks family to take care of Michael and Jane. Now Michael (Ben Wishaw) is a father and widower himself and he and Jane (Emily Mortimer) try their best to provide everything Michael’s children (Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson) could need. But they are struggling, emotionially and financially. So Mary Poppins makes a return to the Banks’ home to help them once again.

Mary Poppins Returns is nice enough, but it didn’t really make me happy, given that it doesn’t really know if it is a remake or a sequel, makes some questionable choices, and generally it just doesn’t hold a candle to the old film.

The film poster showing Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt).
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The Post (2017)

The Post
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Liz Hannah, Josh Singer
Cast: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, Matthew Rhys, Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, Jesse Plemons, David Cross, Zach Woods, Pat Healy
Seen on: 1.3.2018
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Plot:
Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) has anonymously leaked documents to the New York Times that prove the atrocities of the USA in Vietnam. The Post, newly managed by Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) who took over after the death of her husband, doesn’t want to fall behind and finds Ellsberg for more information. Soon The Post finds itself under big pressure from the government not to publish and Kay has to make big decisions.

The Post is a film full of pathos. There’s nothing wrong with that and it works emotionally. It’s just a little too safe in its choices, making it feel a little dusty. But (unfortunately) not out of date.

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Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)

Florence Foster Jenkins
Director: Stephen Frears
Writer: Nicholas Martin
Cast: Meryl StreepHugh GrantSimon HelbergRebecca FergusonNina AriandaStanley TownsendAllan CordunerChristian McKayDavid HaigJohn Sessions
Seen on: 30.11.2016

Plot:
Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) loves singing opera and dreams of performing for a big crowd. And since she’s rich, she has the means to make her dreams come true, despite the fact that she can’t actually sing. Her husband St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) is devoted to her and wants to make sure that she’ll be able to perform without being ridiculed. He hires pianist Cosmé McMoon (Simon Helberg) to practice with her and together the two men form an alliance to get Florence on the stage.

Florence Foster Jenkins didn’t blow me away, but it was a sweet and entertaining film that I enjoyed.

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Suffragette (2015)

Suffragette
Director: Sarah Gavron
Writer: Abi Morgan
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Anne-Marie DuffHelena Bonham Carter, Romola GaraiGrace Stottor, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson, Meryl Streep
Seen on: 09.02.2016

Plot:
Maud (Carey Mulligan) has spent more or less her entire life working as a washer woman in a factory. Quite to the contrary to her co-worker Violet (Anne-Marie Duff), Maud is trying to keep her head down. Violet, on the other hand, is a passionate suffragette, fighting for women’s rights. But the longer Maud hears about this fight, the more she finds herself drawn to it, slowly stumbling into the movement until she herself has to make some hard choices about her life.

The reactions to Suffragette I encountered so far were lukewarm at best – and I’m the next person with that reaction to add to the list. It’s not really a bad film, but it isn’t very good, either.

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Ricki and the Flash (2015)

Ricki and the Flash
Director: Jonathan Demme
Writer: Diablo Cody
Cast: Meryl StreepKevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Rick SpringfieldAudra McDonald, Sebastian StanNick Westrate, Hailey Gates, Ben PlattBill Irwin
Seen on: 9.9.2015

Plot:
Ricki (Meryl Streep) is a singer with her own band, but also a dayjob at a supermarket. Many years ago, she decided to pursue her music rather than stay with her family and is estranged from both her ex-husband Pete (Kevin Kline) and her children Julie (Mamie Gummer), Josh (Sebastian Stan) and Adam (Nick Westrate) who were brought up by Pete’s new wife Maureen (Audra McDonald). But after Julie separates from her husband and falls into a deep depression, Pete calls Ricki for help, forcing all of them to take stock of their relationships with each other.

Ricki and the Flash is an entertaining film with a great cast. I probably won’t remember it forever, but I had fun while it lasted.

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Into the Woods (2014)

Into the Woods
Director: Rob Marshall
Writer. James Lapine
Based on: James Lapine‘s (book) and Stephen Sondheim‘s (music and lyrics) musical, which is in turn based on a few Brothers Grimm fairy tales
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Daniel Huttlestone, James Corden, Emily Blunt, Lilla CrawfordChris Pine, Billy Magnussen, Mackenzie Mauzy, Christine Baranski, Tammy Blanchard, Lucy Punch, Tracey Ullman, Meryl Streep, Simon Russell Beale, Johnny Depp, Frances de la Tour
Seen on: 11.3.2015

Plot:
The baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) dream of having a child, but due to a curse by the evil witch (Meryl Streep), they can’t conceive. But the witch offers to reverse the curse – if they bring her certain items: a cow as white as milk, hair the color of corn, a golden slipper and a red cape. They set off into the woods where they hope to find all of those items. As luck will have it, Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) runs away from her prince (Chris Pine) in golden slippers, Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) tries to sell his white cow, Litte Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) is visiting her gran in her red cape and Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) and her blonde hair meet her prince (Billy Magnussen) – all in those same woods. But things don’t go quite as planned.

The first half of Into the Woods is extremely enjoyable. In the second half, the plot completely unravels, but at least cast and production design are still awesome.

Into_the_Woods

[SPOILERS]

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The Homesman (2014)

The Homesman
Director: Tommy Lee Jones
Writer: Tommy Lee Jones,Kieran Fitzgerald, Wesley A. Oliver
Based on: Glendon Swarthout‘s novel
Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter, David Dencik, William Fichtner, Jesse Plemons, John Lithgow, Tim Blake Nelson, James Spader, Hailee Steinfeld, Meryl Streep
Seen on: 06.01.2015

Plot:
At the very west of the settling effort in the USA, three women (Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter) have a psychotic break and there are no options for help in the settlements and their husbands (David Dencik, William Fichtner, Jesse Plemons) are partly overwhelmed and partly cruel, but generally of not much use. Reverend Dowd (John Lithgow) suggest that the women should be taken back east to get some help, and the only one willing to do that is Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) who is trying to build her life in the west on her own. Mary Bee stumbles upon George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) who has been left to hang, and saves his life, but demands that he come with her to bring the women to safety. And so the five of them set off on the dangerous trek, despite the general unwillingness of everybody involved but Mary Bee.

The Homesman could have been a good film, if it hadn’t been for George Briggs and the movie’s obsession with him.

the-homesman[SPOILERS]

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The Giver (2014)

The Giver
Director: Phillip Noyce
Writer: Michael Mitnick, Robert B. Weide
Based on: Lois Lowry’s novel
Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush, Cameron Monaghan, Taylor Swift, Emma Tremblay

Plot:
Jonas’ (Brenton Thwaites) final year-ceremony is approaching – which is especially exciting because all kids get their community assignment at that point. That means that they’ll finally find out what their role and duty will be in their community. Contrary to many other kids, Jonas has no idea what he is suited for. But he certainly did not expect to be announced as the new Receiver of Memories – he doesn’t even know what it is the Receiver (Jeff Bridges) does. When he starts his apprenticeship, the role of the receiver is far from the only thing he learns though.

I generally liked the book but wasn’t particularly blown away by it. The same pretty much goes for the film. Some things were nicely done, others I didn’t care much for – especially where the film deviates from the book.

thegiver

[SPOILERS]

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August: Osage County (2013)

August: Osage County
Director: John Wells
Writer: Tracy Letts
Based on: his play
Cast: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregorMargo Martindale, Sam Shepard, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, Juliette Lewis, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Misty Upham

Plot:
When their father (Sam Shepard) dies, Barbara (Julia Roberts), Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) and Karen (Juliette Lewis) all gather home with their mother Violet (Meryl Streep). Everyone comes with their baggage: Barbara and her husband Bill (Ewan McGregor) are separated but haven’t told their family and their daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin) doesn’t deal very well. Ivy has a secret lover. Karen brings home her newest fiancé (Dermot Mulroney). And Violet, a mean-spirited pill-addict, likes to stir things up.

August: Osage County isn’t always easy to watch but it is always well-acted and engaging. Toward the end I thought that it got a little much but altogether it was a really good film.

augustosagecounty

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