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Little Women

Little Women

If you are thinking of skipping Little Women, think again. It has been read in Louisa May Alcott’s book and seen in movies by all ages ever since it came out in 1868. Now, as a gift to all of us, Greta Gerwig has assembled and directed a superb cast in a new version that is packing theaters. It is both a tribute to the book and a salute to families of any era. Just go.

This story may have been written five decades ago but director Gerwig has dropped it into the present as she develops the sisters who are both intelligent and emotional in their search for their futures. We care about every member of this family she paints.

Saoirse Ronan creates Jo in a way so affecting that she could be a portrait of any strong woman who knows exactly what she wants. Jo is the one born to write and we are absorbed by how she thinks and what she does. When she confronts her publisher and stands up for herself, she becomes a woman who could ring true in any era. Saoirse Ronan’s creation of Jo is riveting. She draws us in and we sit in a theater audience that is rooting for her all the way. We can feel it. The entire audience has been pulled into the story and that is just where they want to be.

There isn’t one weak casting spot in the whole film. Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Elza Scanlen, and the men in smaller roles who want to marry them are winners. Even Meryl Streep contributes a fine small part. Laura Dern creates the fascinating non-judgmental mother who eventually shows us her own inner torment. She has raised four girls who are growing into fine intelligent women, all with inner drives that propel them to the goals they are choosing in the culture of their time. Now she can turn to herself.

Jo is the writer forever; Meg and Amy want to marry good men and have families; Beth, the youngest, is a talented piano player who watches her older sisters carefully for lessons in how to grow up. We feel great admiration for Louisa May Alcott. When she wrote the book in 1868, she created a tale for her generation. What an accomplishment to have written a story that has drawn readers for a full half century.

And now, in 2020 as movie lovers pack theaters, we credit both Alcott’s book and Greta Gerwig’s movie as crowds love it once more. Four teenage sisters living with their mother in Concord, Massachusetts in 1868 have been recreated in a way that enriches rather than lessens the original. There is no weakness in any of the women or the men. Each of these accomplished actors absorbed the inner emotions created by both the original author and today’s recreator. Alcott’s book became universal and Greta Gerwig’s movie is becoming just that in 2020.

Film Critic : Joan Ellis
Film Title : Little Women
Word Count : 500
Running Time: 2:14
Rating : PG
Date : 5 January 2020

This review was posted on January 5, 2020, in Drama, Romance.

Bombshell

Bombshell

In an attempt to take a fair look at corporate sexuality, Bombshell offers a depressing look at office politics leading to the current surge of revelations about the corporate promotion system. These politics continue still.

Ask, if you care to, why some women do and some don’t dress in the sex-for-promotion way. As this movie makes clear, woman seducers will usually have blonde hair and a good figure adorned in scanty clothes. In this film, these women are then surprised when head of Fox News Roger Ailes demands sex in return for promotion. Why, when dressed in next to nothing, are women surprised at what happens when men are so predictable?

Megan Kelly (Charlize Theron), a Fox News star, works in a high rise building that houses a host of conservative thinkers. She considers herself relatively safe because she is an independent columnist for the network – or is there more to her story? Second blonde Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), host of Fox and Friends, becomes the next example of violating business rule #1 – an employee must never sue her boss. When she does, she learns “I’m damned for doing it and damned for not doing it sooner.” Yes, but that confusion is the price of a solution.

Both women face the inevitable self-questioning: will I be left out? Lose my job, lose my money? If I stay, do I have to put up with it? “I’m damned for doing it and for not doing it sooner.”

When Ailes’ taped conversations are revealed, Ailes is out. Why did it take this long? If the Fox News scandal is just another case of what has been going on for years, is it still simplistic to ask why women don’t avoid all this by refusing to work in corporations where men can still manipulate them?

John Lithgow infuses Roger Ailes with a perfect mixture of qualities that aren’t brutal or mean. He’s just the contemporary boss driven by wanting women whenever he wants them. He coaches them on how to dress, how to move, and believes accurately that he is helping them to rise in his corporation. He is not a monster, just a contemporary man swaddled in disgusting out-of-date illusion. Lithgow’s performance is superb.

Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman paint skillful portraits of the two women caught in the culture of their time while waking up to what they must do to obliterate sex as the main stepping stone to power in a male corporate culture. Their fine performances are part of a monster wave that is publicizing the problem at last. Their dart hits the center of the target.

You will see groups of men, discarded women, and, no surprise, Donald Trump. As current movies become stepping stones to solutions, wouldn’t it help if ambitious women wore beautiful clothes that covered more skin? It’s that skin that ignites the men. If that fails, just go to work one day in a snowsuit.

Film Critic : Joan Ellis
Film Title : Bombshell
Word Count : 495
Running Time : 1:48
Rating : R
Date : 29 December 2019