movie review: little women

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Do all the things.

I don’t particularly enjoy Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, but there are two film adaptions of the book that I adore.  ‘Little Women’ (1994)…and ‘Little Women’ (2018), which is the adaption I’m reviewing today.

Let’s start with the story!  Instead of trying to craft a recognizable plot out of a rather episodic book, the filmmakers went a different direction and told the story in a series of flashbacks.  (The framework for the flashbacks is Jo working on her fantasy novel with instruction from Professor ‘Freddie’ Bhaer.)  Most of the major events from the book are depicted in this film: Christmas without (m)any presents, Jo bumping into Laurie at a party, Meg making a fool of herself at another party (the prom this time), Amy burning Jo’s notebook, etc., etc. (I will say that Amy was a lot more justified in burning Jo’s notebook.  The situation was changed up a little and I Approve.)

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The feels were so, so real.  I teared up multiple times, especially with parts concerning Beth (no spoilers!) and the final scene which was #beautiful and #weddingdaygoals.

Now I’m sure most of you are wondering if the casting director got it right.  If Jo was the same strong, independent, flawed woman we all know and love.  If Beth warmed every heart with her sweetness.  If Laurie was a faithful friend.  The answer to all of that is “YES”.  I loved the casting for pretty much every character, but especially the four ‘little women’.  Sarah Davenport was outstanding as Jo.  She’s full of fire and fierce love and flaws.  And she is indubitably a Writer!  All the other films portray Jo’s writing as more of an unimportant, background hobby, but this adaption celebrated her journey as a writer.  And that made her so much more relatable to me.  For the first time, I actually, truly ‘got’ Jo. (And her connection to Beth was also so strong and I loved it.)

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This review is getting loooong, so I’ll just quickly run through the rest of the cast.  Beth was incredibly sweet, but also genuine.  Meg was perfect.  Amy (played, of course, by two different actresses) was annoying but had her moments of warmth.  Marmee was suitably Marmee-ish.  John Brooke was the only good portrayal of the character I’ve seen on film.  It took me a bit to warm up to Laurie (especially because they didn’t include the part where he sends for Marmee without waiting for permission which is my favorite character moment of his) but by the time he comforted Jo at The Funeral, I really liked him.

Overall, ‘Little Women’ is a beautiful film about the importance of family and the connection between sisters.  Highly recommended to fans of the original story.

Eva

Screening provided by Graf-Martin Communications and Pure Flix.

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five reasons why ‘Gladiator’ is an astounding epic

Warning: I wouldn’t recommend this film to anyone without several caveats, especially because of the violence and the villain’s incestuous tendencies.  Definitely not a movie for immature viewers.

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#5 – ‘Gladiator’ respects the precedent set by ‘Ben-Hur’

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‘Gladiator’, like ‘Ben-Hur’, is an epic tale of revenge, love, and redemption that hinges on incredible characters that interact with each other in believable ways.  Yes, there’s violence.  Yes, there’s spectacle and intense action sequences and military triumphs.  But Maximus, Lucilla, Juba, Proxima, and even Commodus are at the centre of the film and that is a large part of what makes ‘Gladiator’ so well-loved.  In the end, it’s not about the gore or the glory.  It’s about the characters.

#4 – ‘Gladiator’ is a revenge story

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Arguably, the best stories are revenge stories.  The Count of Monte Cristo, True Grit, Hamlet…all great classics that have vengeance as one of their main themes.  Though I doubt a Roman emperor would lower himself to the level of a slave and fight in the arena, is makes for sweet revenge.

#3 – The emotions are real

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So real.  An aching lump in your throat that refuses to go away during the final minutes of the movie. (And at various other scenes as well.)  “I will see you again, but not yet…not yet.”  “There was once a dream that was Rome.”  I’m honestly choking up just typing all that because IT’S SO BITTERSWEET.

#2 – Hans Zimmer outdid himself

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My next ‘favorite composer’ post will be about Zimmer and I’ll talk a little more about his soundtrack for ‘Gladiator’ then, but I’ll say that the score for this film is incredible.  Evocative, moving, thrilling – there’s every emotion you can think of.  ‘Now We Are Free’ is unbelievable. (Lisa Gerrard also had a hand in composing it.)

#1 – Maximus Decimus Meridius

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Commander of the armies of the North.  Father to a murdered son.  Husband to a murdered wife.  And he will have his vengeance.  Russell Crowe, the screenwriters, and Ridley Scott created one of the 21st century’s greatest film heroes in the character of Maximus.  His grief, his courage, his struggles all command your respect.  He’s one of my favorite fictional characters.

(My uncle, whose favorite movie is ‘Gladiator’, said he wanted to name his son Maximus Decimus Meridius – I’m still not sure if he was serious or not.)

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Have you seen ‘Gladiator’?  Do you love it like I do?

Eva

mini movie reviews {#9}

Mudbound (2017) – Spectacularly depressing.  Gave me a headache.  But Garrett Hedlund was amazing so I don’t really regret watching it.

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Jurassic Park (1993) – YESSS.  So good.  Loved it and watched it twice and still loved it, so yeah.  The music was my favorite part, I think.  That or Jeff Goldblum.

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Wonder (2017) – Not quite as good as the book, but still thoroughly heartwarming.

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Goodbye Christoper Robin (2017) – Really heavy and a little boring.  I think I’ll enjoy ‘Christopher Robin’ much more.

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Unconditional (2012) – Actually one of the better Christian movies I’ve seen.  Great characters, good acting, and some pretty emotional scenes.

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Tarzan (1999) – One of my new favorite Disney movies!  Jane is awesome.

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A Monster Calls (2016) – Made me ugly sob.  A beautiful movie, though, and the Monster warmed my heart.

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Room (2015) – It’s rare that a film actually makes me bite my nails, but I’m pretty sure that ‘Room’ did.  My heart was pounding so hard.  The second half was a little boring, but overall a great film.

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Earth to Echo (2014) – This movie is a tribute to films like ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘E.T.’ and I really dug it.  All the characters were so sweet and small and perfect.

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Napoleon Dynamite (2004) – Some friends of mine HIGHLY recommended this movie to me so I watched it and, yeah, now I love it.  Which is weird because none of the characters are super likable, there’s no plot, and the humour isn’t even my kind of humour.  But there’s just something about it that keeps me coming back for more. (Also, it’s one of the most quotable films everrrr.)

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Annie (2014) – Loooove.  Makes me so happy.

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Anna Karenina (2012) – I cannot get over the dresses and coats and hats in this film.  Incredibly, unbelievably gorgeous.  But that was pretty much the only thing I enjoyed in ‘Anna Karenina’.  (It was filmed a little oddly as well.)

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The Breakfast Club (1985) – Two words: JOHN. BENDER. *heart-eyes emoji*

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So what movies have you watched recently?  Have you seen any of the ones I reviewed above?

Eva

P.S. My bi-weekly excuse for no read-along post – my weekend was crazy busy with the birthday party sleepover I hosted.

movie review: God Bless The Broken Road

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This is one of the most beautiful movie posters I’ve ever seen.  No lie.

Amber’s ideal life is shattered when she loses her husband to the war in Afghanistan. Two years later, she finds herself in a struggle to save her home while providing for her 9-year-old daughter, Bree. When up-and-coming race car driver Cody Jackson rolls into town, Amber and Bree become wrapped up in his pedal to the metal way of life. With her faith hanging in the balance, Amber is forced to decide between the broken road she knows so well or trusting in a new path that God has provided.

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There seems to be a trend lately among Christian film: take a famous Christian song and make a movie based on that song (however tentatively).  The God’s Not Dead franchise, ‘I Can Only Imagine’ (2018), and now ‘God Bless The Broken Road’ (2018).

WHAT I LIKED

-The director, Harold Cronk, knows how to make a quality film in terms of camera work and lighting.  I dug the vintage aesthetic of this film.

-On a whole, the characters were pretty likable.  Amber was a sympathetic protagonist.  Her daughter, her friends from church, and Cody were all sweet.  My favorite character was probably Amber’s mother-in-law, though.  She could be controlling and manipulative, but in the end all she wanted to do was keep her family close.

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-I felt that Amber’s struggles to provide for herself and her daughter were accurately – and heartbreakingly – portrayed.  Those scenes were some of the best in the film.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

-It was just kinda…bland?  A little boring, too.  I found my interest straying through many of the scenes, which was disappointing.  But that’s basically my only complaint.  And for those who aren’t as nitpicky as I am, I think you could find ‘God Bless The Broken Road’ to be a hidden gem.

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Have you seen this film?  What’s your favorite faith-based movie?

Eva

Film has been provided courtesy of Pacific Northwest Pictures and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

five reasons why ‘Monsters University’ is THE most under-rated Pixar film

(Well, ‘Cars’ is as well.  But I won’t get into that today.)

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With the semi-recent release of ‘Incredibles 2’, a lot of people have written blog posts and articles ranking every Pixar movie to date.  And while reading through a bunch of those posts I’ve been annoyed at how low ‘Monsters University’ is ranked every. single. time.  Usually it’s in the bottom five, if not the bottom three.  And I honestly don’t understand it.  So today I’m going to give you five reasons why ‘Monsters University’ is Pixar’s most under-rated film.

Reason #5 – Prequels are cool

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I’ve read some complaints about the fact that ‘Monsters University’ is a prequel-sequel.  “We already know where these characters end up!  Why do we care?”  Well, personally, I think prequels are awesome because you get great character backstory and a fun look at How Things Came To Be.  It adds an extra depth to Mike, Sulley, and Randall in ‘Monsters, Inc.’, I think.

Reason #4 – Extreme entertainment

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I don’t know about you, but I find ‘Monsters, Inc.’ pretty boring, tbh.  But I’m never bored while watching its prequel.  ‘Monsters University’ has some great action sequences (the pig chase, the Scare Games, the cabin campers) and it’s also incredibly funny (Oozma Kappa makes me laugh so much).  It’s far more amusing than MI, in my opinion.

Reason #3 – The characters!!!

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Having Mike as the main character in ‘Monsters University’ could have back-fired like making Mater the protagonist of ‘Cars 2’ back-fired.  But it worked really well – Mike is awesome.  Sulley is a jerk for a large part of the film but his courage and humility in confessing that he fixed the Scare Games and then seeking Mike out in the human world…it all made me a bigger fan of Sulley.  Dean Hardscrabble is a worthy antagonist – not a villain, though!  Helen Mirren (HELEN MIRREN!!!) gives her a slight warmth that is awesome.

And how could I forget to mention Oozma Kappa?  Each member of the fraternity is hilarious and heartwarming and I never fail to tear up the tiniest bit when Mike and Sulley say goodbye to them.

Reason #2 – The message of the film is #best

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Sometimes you have to take a long, hard look at your dreams and realize that they’re not right for you.  Or you’re not right for that particular dream.  Or it’s just not the right time to follow that dream.  And that’s okay.  Because there’s something better waiting just around the corner.

Reason #1 – IT’S JOHN GOODMAN AND BILLY CRYSTAL BACK TOGETHER, AMIRIGHT?

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Enough said, ‘kay? 😉

So.  Have you ever watched ‘Monsters University’?  What are your thoughts on it?

Eva

my favorite composers #3 – Dimitri Tiomkin

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Whenever I watch the opening credits to a movie and see that Dimitri Tiomkin did the music, I grin to myself because I know that I’m in for a treat, soundtrack-wise.  Even if the movie is garbage, his score is sure to be wonderful. 

Tiomkin composed the music for some of my favorite classic films.  I believe his best-known work was what he did for ‘High Noon’ (1952).  Love how he reworks the main theme to fit a variety of moods, situations, and scenes; listen to the soundtrack suite and you’ll see what I mean.

Two other favorite movies of mine are ‘Rio Bravo’ (1959) and ‘Friendly Persuasion’ (1956) and Tiomkin outdid himself on the scores for both.  ‘Rio Bravo’ has a particularly chilling bit of music called ‘El Degüello’ – according to the film it’s the song that the Mexicans played day and night as they laid seige to the Alamo.  According to Wikipedia, the song used in ‘Rio Bravo’ wasn’t the actual song played at the Alamo (instead, it was composed by Tiomkin) but it’s still chillingly well-employed within the film’s context.

And then there’s ‘Friendly Persuasion’, which has some toe-tapping dance music that I love. (I couldn’t find a video on Youtube so you’ll just have to take my word for it.)

Have you heard of Dimitri Tiomkin (or heard any of his work)?  Let me know in the comments!

Eva

P.S. The reason there was no read-along post for The Outsiders yesterday was because I always write the post on Saturday and schedule it for Sunday but last Saturday was turned upside-down because of some plumbing issues in our home.  So…yeah.  This coming Sunday will have a read-along post, though.

movie review: God’s Not Dead – A Light in Darkness

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Pastor Dave Hill faces a setback when his church burns down – prompting the officials at the adjoining university to try to tear down the church. Battle lines are drawn between the church and the community as Dave seeks legal help from his estranged brother – an atheist lawyer — in a fight to rebuild the church.

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Despite my many reservations about the God’s Not Dead franchise, I jumped at the chance to review a free DVD copy of the latest (and last?) film – ‘God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness’.  Because, hey, I do enjoy watching Christian films.  And free stuff is always cool.

THE GOOD:

-Dave’s relationship with his brother, Pearce, was the core of this film and their scenes together worked really well.  I enjoyed watching them play off each other in both funny and serious scenes; there were some issues between them and that led to some genuinely moving moments.

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-Seeing Josh and Jude again was cool.

-Also, I believe Josh quoted Pastor Dave’s advice from the first movie right back at him and that made me grin.

-Keaton and Adam’s story was really interesting!  I wish we could’ve seen more them.  I especially felt for Adam, what with Everything That Happened.  That scene between him and Dave near the end was well-done and pretty emotional.

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-I really got behind the message of this film, which is that a church building isn’t the church itself. (I’m sure there’s more messages than that, but I really dug how they handled that one.  I was hoping Pastor Dave would reach that conclusion by the film’s end.)

THE BAD:

-It seems like the quality of this film isn’t the greatest, compared to the other two.  The camera work and script make it feel like a made for TV movie instead of a theatrical release.  So that’s unfortunate.

-Starting with voice-over narration instead of a song? *sigh*

THE MEH:

-Sadly, this film was pretty boring and didn’t hold my interest as well as the other two.

-Pastor Dave himself wasn’t all that gripping of a main character.  I call it the Mater Syndrome – taking a side character whose main purpose is comic relief and making them the main character doesn’t work, nine times out of ten.  And David A.R. White tends to bug me (his acting, voice, etc.) so that didn’t help.

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-And I wanted to get behind his kinda romance with Meg but…it just didn’t happen.

Overall, ‘God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness’ has a better message and characters than the previous films, but is of lesser quality in terms of camera work, script, and pacing.  Worth a watch?  If you’ve seen ‘God’s Not Dead’ and ‘God’s Not Dead 2’, then yes.  But if your introduction to the franchise will be this film, I’d give it a pass.

DVD has been provided courtesy of Pure Flix and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Eva