“I really don’t know what’s real anymore,” Bess says in “Love is Blind” (2019). Much of this film revolves around the audience figuring out what is real rather than in Bess's head. Andy Delaney and Monty Whitebloom direct this quirky romantic dramedy about loneliness, grief, and healing. It has a solid cast and is an imaginative film, making it always engaging despite its wacky and sometimes hard-to-follow plot. “Love is Blind,” written by Jennifer Schuur, is about a girl named Bess (Shannon Tarbet) who cannot see her mother (Chloe Sevigny) and believes that she passed away a decade ago. Through the course of the film, the audience realizes that her mother is very much alive but that her ‘selective blindness’ is Bess’s way of coping with a traumatic event in the past.
Sofia Coppola’s American Southern Gothic film, “The Beguiled” (2017), is an atmospheric drama that takes place at a girls’ school in Virginia in 1864. The American Civil War rages around the house, ever-present despite the lack of action. The film features a trio of talented blonde women -- Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning -- in addition to Colin Farrell. While it’s not the masterpiece that some of Coppola’s other films like “Marie Antoinette” (2006) or “The Virgin Suicides” (1999) are, it’s a moving and aesthetically beautiful portrait of women in wartime.
Steven Soderbergh’s latest offering, “The Laundromat” (2019), is supposedly about the events and circumstances that surrounded the Panama Papers that were released in 2016, yet it manages to teach its audience very little. The movie, directed by Soderbergh, adapts a non-fiction book into a story that isn’t entirely narrative or even episodic. It’s a disjointed and wacky film that feels lacking in a central focus that attempts to illustrate the different types of corruption that the Panama Papers shed light upon. However, even a good performance by Meryl Streep can’t salvage this film.
It takes true talent to create a film that is both incredibly specific to one culture and somehow universal to all audiences. Luckily, Lulu Wang has this talent as she amply proves in “The Farewell” (2019). Wang wrote and directed this endearing film based partially on her own life and family. It originated as a radio story, “What You Don’t Know,” that was part of an episode of “This American Life.” This year, it came to the big screen and is sure to remain one of the most important films to come out of 2019.
In August, Gurinder Chadha’s latest film “Blinded by the Light” (2019) was released. It tells the story of a young Pakistani man in England who finds his voice through Bruce Springsteen’s music despite struggling with discrimination. It’s hardly the first time that Chadha has explored the theme of cultural inclusion, exclusion, and immigration. Chadha herself is an Indian woman raised in England so she brings her personal experiences to the films she writes and directs, including her most famous “Bend It Like Beckham” (2002). The release of her latest film seems like a good time to revisit one of her earlier works, “Bride and Prejudice” (2004), which often doesn’t get the credit it deserves.