The Morning After: Dec. 30, 2019

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Little Women


When Louisa May Alcott wrote her novel Little Women in 1868, cinema wasn’t even an inkling of an idea. Yet, her celebrated novel has been adapted to film seven times. The first was a silent film in 1917. The most celebrated was the third adaptation released in 1933 starring Katharine Hepburn as Jo. The 1949 version was also well received with June Allyson as Jo and Elizabeth Taylor as Amy.

The 1994 version starring Winona Ryder as Jo also received solid reviews, but it’s this seventh adaptation starring Saoirse Ronan as Jo, Florence Pugh as Amy, Emma Watson as Meg, and Eliza Scanlen as Beth that might just be the best one yet.

The classic story of the headstrong Jo, bratty Amy, practical Meg, and shy Beth is told out of sequence with the bulk of the story set near the end of the story as Jo pursues he career as a writer in New York City. Told in flashback, the film unfolds with intelligence and wit as Ronan and Pugh outshine the others with Timothée Chalamet, Chris Cooper, Laura Dern, and Meryl Streep providing superb support.

What works best in the film is that it never digs for the maudlin. Each tear and laugh are earned organically. Director Greta Gerwig has now made two films that could one day be considered masterpieces, each tackling a new genre and bringing a fresh voice to cinema. Little Women is a film that feels both instantly classic and revolutionary.

I Lost My Body


While Disney and their ilk are busy churning out broadly accessible animated films that speak to global audiences, smaller animation studios and artists are exploring unique concepts and fascinating stories within the confines of typically hand-drawn animated films. I Lost My Body is one such a film that explores love and loss in a most unusually manner.

An unknown incident results in the severing of a young man’s hand. As the hand escapes the police evidence refrigerator and crawls across the city in search of its owner, we learn about the childhood trauma of its body. As the saga unfolds before the audience, we learn about emotional joys and depression of a young man struggling to find his place in a world of cruel precision.

The artwork here is rough in places, but the concept is so enticing and well executed that the audience should be able to forgive some of the stylistic choices on display. The film moves at a seemingly brisk pace, but sometimes struggles to find its footing. Ultimately, the semi-hopeful new beginning, a fresh start without one’s own hand, is a compelling treatise that deserves contemplation.

Midsommar


Ari Aster’s debut feature, Hereditary showcased a young visionary starting out in the frequently uninspired horror genre. Aster’s follow up feature, Midsommar showcases his influences with some obviousness, but the attempt to forge a new path seems just a little bit too familiar and simultaneously a bit brash, but considering Hereditary, that isn’t surprising.

Florence Pugh stars as Dani, a young college student whose family tragedy sends her into a spiral of depression. When her boyfriend (Jack Reynor) encourages her to go to Sweden with him and his friends (Vilhelm Blomgren, William Jackson Harper, and Will Poulter). There, a once-in-a-lifetime ritual will test the relationships of all four friends in this increasingly bizarre community.

Pugh and Reynor deliver strong performances, allowing the twisted and hellish landscape to unfold before them. Most of the film is built on long pauses between violent incidences making it all the more unnerving as the audience waits for the next shoe to drop. Rather than perpetually peppering the audience with visceral horrors, the bloody moments are few and far between, but are exceedingly violent. Aster has clearly made an original film that pays homage to films like The Wicker Man, but if you’re expecting something more aggressive or sensational, you’re looking in the wrong spot.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.