It’ll Be Important If You Write It

I am not to be trusted when it comes to stories that I love and criticism, and I more than love Little Women. 

Little Women is my favorite book ever. Little Women is me in so many ways, it’s shaped the way I think, the way I feel, the way I interpret stories and especially how I feel about adapting stories I love. (But we’ll talk about that later in the week)

Greta Gerwig is a talented writer and director and she’s found a great collaborator in Saorise Ronan. This Little Women feels vital and new and yet stays faithful to it’s source. The March sisters are rowdy, loving and full of life, Laurie Laurence feels of them and apart from them at the same time. They learn, they grow, they love, they lose. I wept through most of the film, but that’s not a surprise. Timothee Chalamet is the Laurie I’ve always wanted, both dreamy and dorky, brooding and awkward. Ronan is born for Jo, Emma Watson is charming as Meg (Meg is the least challenging of the girls, really) and Eliza Scanlan is heartbreaking as Beth. But this is a version of Little Women that belongs to Amy March in many ways and Florence Pugh runs away with the flick. Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, Bob Odenkirk and others aquit themselves well.

Rankings

  1. Knive’s Out
  2. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  3. Jo Jo Rabbit
  4. Frozen 2
  5. Little Women
  6. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  7. Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker
  8. Avengers: Endgame
  9. Rocketman
  10. Detective Pikachu
  11. Zombieland: Double Tap
  12. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
  13. Downton Abbey
  14. Joker

Trailers

I Still Believe: I’ve been listening to the podcast Good Christian Fun, and I really can’t wait for them to review this movie, but I’m not going to see it. KJ Appa’s natural hair is disconcerting.

Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge on The Run: Is this the fourth or fifth Spongebob movie?

Respect: 2 OSCARS FOR JENNIFER! Let’s do it!

Ghostsbusters: Afterlife: Did we not just go through two weeks of gnashing of teeth at unnecessary grandpa connections? DO I CARE ABOUT EGON SPENGLER’S GRANDKIDS BUSTING GHOSTS? I do not.

In The Heights: This did not help…with the crying. You are going to have to mop whatever theater I am in when I see this. I am going to cry buckets.

 

My girls have a way of getting into mischief

To say that Little Women has had an impact on my life is a deep deep understatement.

Louisa May Alcott’s novel of sisterhood didn’t just influence me, it got into my insides when I was seven years old and I grew up around it, twisting my voice and personality to it. I’m a writer because of Jo March, I know I can always come home despite my differences from my family because of Amy March, I desire deep profound love because of Meg March and I cherish innocence because of Beth March.

I’m not alone in this. Most women I know have their own profound connection to Little Women. Maybe because it was a story about girls that didn’t privilege romance (though it’s there), maybe because it’s always been there, I don’t know, but it’s a special story.

Watching nearly every woman I follow on social media lose their minds in the last few days over the Little Women trailer has been an incredible blessing. Also, after Ladybird, I’d trust Greta Gerwig to tell any story that resonates with me, since she told a story so close to mine so well.

I’m infatuated with the cast as well. Saorise Ronan has made the world better for Irish named lasses everywhere, and for a change we’re getting a competent Amy. (Well, Kirsten Dunst was great but whover played grown up Amy SUCKED HARD) and I think Meg will be a great change of pace of Emma Watson, and Thimotee Chalamet is FINALLY what I’ve always wanted from Laurie. (Most adaptations lean into his dreamy side, totally forgetting that he’s kinda a weird dork.) (Not to say Chalamet isn’t dreamy, but he’s also a weird dork, not something you could say about say, Christian Bale.)

Mostly, I’m just really really psyched. And once I finish my 60 books, I plan to pick it up again. (Soon ish! My current TBR takes me to 51 and I’m travelling over Labor day weekend.) I haven’t read Alcott in a while, so I’m looking forward to it here.

 

 

Ever Just The Same, Ever A Surprise

Beauty And The Beast

Beauty And The Beast is not my favorite Disney movie. I love it a lot, and I still think it’s one of the greatest examples of a film musical. (Right behind Singin In The Rain and The Sound Of Music.)  So I had similar if not the same expectations as everyone going into the movie last weekend.

I wasn’t disappointed. Baffled, unsure, and impressed, for sure, but never disappointed.

The basics of Beauty And The Beast remain as they always have been, but the new film manages to add wrinkles and twists to the story you know that are surprising enough to make watching the film engrossing. The characters we know and love are given turns in their paths and depths revealed in their wake.

If I sound a little too poetic I’m sorry, but I was very happy with this movie. I’m obsessed with this cast, with the decision made in it’s screen play, and I could babble on for days about the visual, but I guess I have to focus on one thing at a time.

Let’s start with the cast. Emma Watson is delightful as Belle. There’s none of Hermione’s intensity or bossiness in her quiet thoughtful French village girl, and that’s something of a relief. Watson’s voice is noticeably autotuned in spots, but when it isn’t has a lovely sing song quality that I think suits the piece quite well. Dan Stevens brings a mournful heartbreak to the Beast and “For Evermore” is an excellent addition to the canon of Howard Ashman penned Disney songs. These two were also wonderful together. Kevin Kline. I wish Kevin Kline were in more movies. The only reason I can think that he isn’t is that he is not inclined to be, because he’s ALWAYS SO GOOD! Ian McKellan is wonderful if underused. There’s a lot of comedy to Cogsworth that I think got lost in the more serious tone taken on the overall film, but both he and Emma Thomspson do exceedingly well with their limited scope. I would watch Audra McDonald read the phone book as long as she got to hit a few above the staff notes and the movie grants her that and then some. Ewan McGregor acquits himself well with Lumiere, the one of the servants who I think gets to maintain their original charm. This is probably because Lumiere is the most *ahem* flamboyant, (pun  not intended) his light (Damn, keep walking into those) is harder to dampen.

Luke Evans and Josh Gad are flawless and I want more of them doing musical theater. I hope this movie shows the mainstream what theater people have known about Gad for a long time. There’s more to him than Olaf, not that mainstream comedy has the kind of roles that really suit Gad, but he’s really great here, and Evans makes Gaston’s particular brand of masculine menace chilling.

The screenplays new wrinkles would constitute spoilers if I talked about them too deeply, but I will talk about the deepening characterizations, starting with Gaston and LeFou! The codifying of LeFou’s queerness is interesting, especially as it dawns on him that his adoration of Gaston is both troubling and misplaced, giving a comic sidekick an actual arc is something that I always support and it’s executed well here. Gaston is shown here as a soldier and returning golden boy who finds the provincial town dull after the horror and glory of war. Which is way more interesting than a blustering hunter and a good deal more frightening. He’s enamored of Belle not just because she’s beautiful (though that helps) but because she’s, well, disinterested. There’s an undercurrent of “yes, you and I are above this place” to his attempts to woo her, and that’s fascinating to me.

Maurice also gets a makeover, made less of a buffoon and more of an eccentric and it works. Belle and The Beast, both become wounded motherless children, searching for a connection anywhere they can find it, and it makes their romance deeper, sweeter and sadder all at once.

I didn’t love all of the changes. It seemed strange to turn the village from a quiet, sleepy, slightly backward hamlet to some kind of patriarchal hellscape a la The Republic of Gilead where women aren’t allowed to learn to read and if they’re unmarried or without a father’s protection they’re thrown out into the streets to beg. This seems extreme for a fairytale that’s about seeing past first impressions and I did feel the loss of some of the comedy.

But there’s something deeply instinctual about fairy tales, and Disney’s take on these stories that have been with us forever is so deep in the company’s roots, I’m not surprised that they’re able to execute things well.

We can beat them, forever and ever

Kate and I went to go see Perks of Being A Wallflower last night. I remembered reading the book in high school.

Doesn’t everyone read this book in high school? You’re like not allowed to turn 18 until you’ve read it, right?

I remembered enjoying it, I remember thinking, “Yes, I have felt these things. Yeah, this book gets me.”

I need to read this book again.

But on to the movie. While my Character Separation Disorder (I have a highly advanced stage of this difficult social disorder) did interfere some with the movie. Logan Lerman and Emma Watson make out and the first thing most people think of isn’t, “WHY IS HERMIONE KISSING PERCY JACKSON? ANNABETH AND RON WILL BE SO SAD!”

This is nice, but upsetting in a vague way to the fantasy novel lover.

These people will never fully enjoy life or that episode of Bones where they investigate a murder of that guy who thought he was a demon. Also Emma Watson’s American accent faltered slightly, taking you out of the action, but generally, the movie was incredibly well done.

Perks is about moments, it’s about being a teenager, and those times that change everything. It’s also about how the past colors everything we do. Charlie and Sam (Lerman and Watson) are both working through the terrible things that have happened to them. Charlie’s doing his best to recover from a mental breakdown that occurred because his best friend killed himself and the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his aunt at the age of seven.

But mostly it’s about moments, first kisses and heartbreaks. It’s about those nights with your friends where you sit around doing nothing, and that moment when you hear that perfect song for the first time. (It’s David Bowie’s “Heroes” in Perks, for my friends and me it was The Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights.”) I was glad to think about these moments again, and really glad to be doing it with one of my oldest friends. When we were sitting at dinner and Kate and I were talking about the changes in our lives lately (we’re both embracing the “grown up” but having some trouble), and she something about having the people from the past around being good, “I mean, I love that, it’s why ten years later, we’re still here, you’re still in my life.”

In the end I think that that’s the point. The people that love you are the people that are there for those moments, the infinite ones that they talk about in Perks of Being a Wallflower.