Currently browsing the "Laura Dern" tag.

Review: Little Women

Louisa May Alcott’s 1860s novel Little Women has been adapted to film more times that I can count, beginning in the silent era. So do we really need another one? Yes, we do. In the hands of the talented Greta Gerwig, this story of the four March sisters in Concord, Massachusetts feels as fresh and as relevant as any modern story. And blessed with a perfect cast including Saoirse Ronan, Laura Dern, and Timothée Chalamet, it’s one of the gems of this awards season.

Mini review: Marriage Story

Both of us Chicks saw this one at the Middleburg Film Festival earlier this year where it was the opening night film. From director Noah Baumbach (Margot at the Wedding, Frances Ha) it stars Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver as a New York couple whose marriage is coming apart. Nicole is a former TV actress married to Charlie who’s a theater director. And they have a cute little boy Henry (Azhy Robertson), whose custody becomes an issue when Mom moves home to the west coast to star in a TV show leaving Dad to commute if he wants to be a part of his son’s life. But once a couple of high powered LA divorce lawyers (Laura Dern and Ray Liotta) enter the story, what started out as an amicable split turns contentious. The film has some great performances, but sadly the story itself feels entirely too familiar.

Arty Chick’s Middleburg Film Festival Download 2019

Another super tiring weekend in the bucolic Virginia hamlet of Middleburg watching more films than I should! I predicted early on that this festival would outgrow itself and I think it has come to that point. Too many people know about it and the growing pains have become chronic overcrowding at venues without room for expansion. I’m already searching for another festival for next year. (All suggestions are appreciated.) I saw fewer films this year, too, just nine — Marriage Story, The Capote Tapes, The Aeronauts, Frankie, Waves, The Report, The Two Popes, Atlantics, and Knives Out. I only gave one of them four stars and several were surprising disappointments. For too many it was great cast and great performances in an otherwise just okay movie. Here’s my list with trailers and my preliminary impressions. Full reviews of select films will come later, so check back.

Review: Cold Pursuit

Cold Pursuit triggered a chilling case of deja vu. Not just because it’s another Liam Neeson revenge thriller. But because I’d seen the exact same movie before, in 2014 – a foreign film out of Norway called In Order of Disappearance (“Kraftidioten”), about a mild-mannered snowplow operator named Nils Dickman who sets out to avenge the mob-related murder of his son. Cold Pursuit is an American remake, made by the same director (Hans Petter Moland), with a few minor alterations. And I mean minor. The main character’s name has been changed to Nels Coxman (Neeson), and he’s a snowplow operator in Colorado. The narratives, the action, the motivations, the gallows humor, and the high body count remain essentially the same, as do the creatively varied ways in which people die.

Spoiler-free review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Don’t worry Star Wars junkies. You’ll love The Last Jedi. Problem is, I’m not a Star Wars junkie – I’m just a casual fan – so (gasp!), I wasn’t as blown away by “Episode VIII” as the somewhat Comic-Con-obsessed crowd that I saw it with. Not that I didn’t enjoy most of my two-and-a-half hour visit to a galaxy far, far away. I just happened to like 2015’s nostalgia-fueled The Force Awakens a bit more. The Last Jedi picks up right where that one left off. The franchise’s young new heroine Rey (Daisy Ridley) finds herself on a distant planet, face to face with the elusive Jedi master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). She’s there to return his light saber, get some Jedi training, and convince him to rejoin the Resistance led by his sister, Princess/General Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher). You know the rest. I’m just kidding. You don’t, unless you’ve seen the film or read the spoilers. I’m not enough of an expert to know what constitutes a spoiler, so I’ll just err on the side of caution and keep it brief.

The Founder

The Founder is the antithesis of a feel-good movie. It’ll leave you with a bitter aftertaste, not to mention second thoughts about grabbing a burger at McDonald’s. On the surface, the movie has a similar vibe to The Social Network (about the founder of Facebook) and Steve Jobs (about the co-founder of Apple). All three focus on the origin stories of iconic companies and the people who got trampled – or simply left behind – as the brands took off. But The Founder (about the “founder” of McDonald’s) is missing a few key ingredients – namely drama, tension, and the development of characters that you may want to care about. The cast is good. The movie is weak.

99 Homes

99 Homes is one of those indies that could easily slip through the cracks at the box office but deserves some word-of-mouth love – even from a ‘Mainstream Chick’. It’s a compelling, timely, and well-acted drama that will surely hit (too) close to home for anyone who lost their home – or came close– during the housing crisis. The film puts a human face on a national disaster that allowed certain individuals and institutions to profit off the misfortune of others who got in over their heads financially, largely due to the failure of banks and government agencies to provide proper guidance, intervention, or oversight.

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars is incredibly faithful to the stellar book, and that’s both good and bad. At times, the stars (the human, not celestial ones) feel like they’re doing a straight re-enactment of the best-selling novel by John Green. The book, and movie tell the story of two teenagers, Hazel and Gus, who share an acerbic wit, a healthy dose of sarcasm, and a battle against cancer. They meet in a support group that they both disdain, and quickly fall in love. They are soul mates on borrowed time.

Jurassic Park (3D)

Every once in a while, a movie comes along that you know you should see, but for one reason or another, you just don’t. Such was the case with the 1993 Steven Spielberg classic Jurassic Park, based on the book by Michael Crichton. Fortunately, life is all about second chances. So 20 years later, I can finally say “Of course, I’ve seen Jurassic Park – in 3D no less!” I went into the theater armed with the vast knowledge that the movie had something to do with dinosaurs. I came out of the theater armed with the knowledge that this flick is indeed really good, but scary as sh*t for young kids. It seems trite to yell “Spoiler Alert!” when a movie’s been out for 20 years and spawned two sequels (with JP4 due out next year). But just in case it’s new to you, I’ll tread carefully: