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.
“The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson has often been described as the perfect ghost story. Due to all of its acclaim it was inevitable that it would be adapted for the screen, but it must have posed some challenges. For one thing, director Robert Wise opted to shorten the title. There were more complicated matters of subplot that would need to be addressed to make a film from this genuinely scary story. For the most part, Wise succeeded and “The Haunting” (1963) is worthy of its source material. Unfortunately, along the way some of the subtext of the story was muted or cut out altogether. This leaves the audience with questions regarding how mental illness as well as how one character’s sexuality was depicted.
When I tell friends, family, colleagues, and the occasional random stranger that Amy Heckerling’s 1995 off-the-wall, colorful, and downright entertaining teen comedy, "Clueless" (starring Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd, Stacey Dash, and Brittany Murphy), is an adaptation of a Jane Austen novel, "Emma" (published 1815), most are shocked. Flabbergasted, if you will. In fact, most of these people are not familiar enough with the story of "Emma" itself to note the similarities between Heckerling’s film and the novel.
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.