Writer/director Kelly Reichardt has gained quite some notoriety over her career, so much so that Bong Joon-Ho even denotes her as one of his heroes, and her latest film, “First Cow”, gives audiences a unique Western adventure filled with friendship, character, and a cow. Set in Oregon during the 19th Century, the film follows two scavengers – a skilled but secluded cook named Cookie (John Magaro) and an opportunistic Chinese man named King Lu (Orion Lee). Although they meet on strange terms, the two grow a special friendship as they look to make a name for themselves. However, when an incredibly wealthy man named Chief Factor (Toby Jones) purchases and brings the first cow to the area, the two see an opportunity to gain a wealth of their own. So, as they sneakily steal milk from under Factor’s nose, Cookie and Lu make a name for themselves by cooking baked goods that eventually gets them unwanted attention.
When an artist creates a body of work, they will sometimes look back to assess what they have done. John Ford was near the end of his career and apparently wasn’t completely proud of what his oeuvre consisted of. Most egregious was the way his Western films depicted Native Americans as villains who deserved to be killed and their lands confiscated. His shot at redemption came through a remarkable woman named Mari Sandoz who had written a strongly researched book titled, Cheyenne Autumn. Mari grew up hearing the stories of the suffering of the Native American people through friends, neighbors and visitors to her family farm in Nebraska in the early 1900’s. Her relationship with her father was difficult but she wrote a very well received biography about him after his death. Her research into his life brought back the memories of the members of the Cheyenne tribe who were his friends.
The second I saw the trailer for director Autumn de Wilde’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved comedy “Emma.”, I just knew that it was something special. Even as someone who wasn’t familiar with the book in the slightest, there was just something so visually appealing and intriguing and it looked to kick off an incredible year for Anya Taylor-Joy. Now, that the film has finally hit theatres, it has met and exceeded my expectations and bolsters some of the strongest performances we’ll likely see this year – especially from Taylor-Joy.
Every year, Valentine’s Day leaves in its wake a fair number of films portraying love and romance in all of its pain and glory. Thanks to the incredibly short-lived craze surrounding “50 Shades of Grey”’s cinematic adaptation in February 2015 though, the possibilities seemed endless for more “mature” love stories (aka: erotic romance) to make it big on the big screen, and subvert what people would expect from a Valentine’s release. In the end this never happened, and a whole five years since that particular wave crested, along comes “365 Days”: the latest film from Polish writer/director Barbara Białowas.
I walked into the screening for this film without any knowledge of the story nor have watched any previous adaptations. I'm a sucker for period pieces and after watching the trailer to this film, I immediately knew this would be on my to watch list. "Emma" is directed by Autumn de Wilde and it stars Anya Taylor Joy, Johnny Flynn, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, Myra McFadyen, Josh O'Connor, and Callum Turner. This film follows the "Handsome, clever and rich" Emma Woodhouse who's been meddling in other people's lives as a matchmaker. The costume design and production design are the strongest suits in this movie. Oh gosh, the costumes in this film are gorgeous. The attention to detail in the movie is impeccable.
“Waiting for Anya” (2020) feels like a good learning resource for a school history lesson. Its drama is gentle, the people are all very clean and the peril is mild. But it still helps to shine a light on the brave townsfolk all around Europe who risked death to smuggle others to safety across the borders. Based on the children’s novel of the same name by “War Horse” author Michael Morpurgo, “Waiting for Anya” (2020) tells the story of Jo (Noah Schnapp from "Stranger Things"), a young shepherd living in a remote village in the south of France in 1942. His father is a prisoner of war and his mother and grandfather are sheep farmers.
“The Turning” starts off as a promising reimagining of an old classic, as it weaves itself down a winding road of mystery. But, once that mystery is unravelled...the film comes to an abrupt and unsatisfying halt.
I have never read the book "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott or seen any of the previous adaptations. I have little interest in period dramas, frocks and debutant balls. All I knew about the film was that there were a bunch of teenage-ish girls, it was written 150 years ago and the Joey on Friends got upset about one of the characters dying. So, I knew I’d be a hard sell on this but after a shaky start this film really won me over.
It’s not an easy task to adapt one of the most famous American novels of all time for the screen. Not only has Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” been beloved since it was first published in 1868, it has also had several well-regarded film adaptations before, starring actresses like Katharine Hepburn and Winona Ryder. And yet, if anyone was going to take on this mammoth task, Greta Gerwig seems like the perfect person. Gerwig broke onto the directing scene in 2017 with her first film, “Lady Bird,” a coming-of-age story starring Saoirse Ronan. She returns this year with one of the most iconic female coming-of-age stories of all time, “Little Women,” refreshed and updated for a modern audience without losing any of the spirit of the book -- and once again starring Saoirse Ronan.