Call me the worst feminist stereotype you can think of, but I’m glad that female rage and revenge are starting to be a big thing in movies. So you’d think I would be just the audience for “Amulet,” a horror film that’s also the feature directorial debut of actress Romola Garai no less. Alas, while the movie exudes a whole lot of righteous, well-earned anger, without a real focus it’s merely one nonsensical plot twist after another. Tomaz (Alec Secareanu) is a former soldier whose past traumas have left him homeless. But a chance encounter (or maybe not so chancy) leads him to a rapidly decaying home, where a young woman named Magda (Carla Juri) is caring for her ailing mother.
“Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always” by Eliza Hittman, follows a pregnant 17-year-old who decides to go to New York to have an abortion performed. She resides in Pennsylvania, where the abortion laws are strict, so after some searching, she finds New York is the best place to get the procedure (without needing parental consent). I walked into this film knowing absolutely nothing, then the movie began, and I observed that it’s about a pregnant teenager. I immediately felt a knot in my stomach because I could relate to Autumn (I became pregnant with my first daughter when I was 16).
“Premature” brims with freshness in how it ultimately places its focus on the perspective of a young black woman and her lived experiences. Ayanna’s world is tactile and meticulously observed; it is one which lets viewers, into the lives of people living in New York’s inner city and the challenges that come with it.
I have quite a high bar for emotional reactions to film, whether that be laughing or crying. “Alice” had me crying in my seat all through the credits. The two key elements to Alice's story are commonplace and not particularly remarkable in themselves. A husband squanders the family money, has affairs and leaves his wife. On the other side a woman is so backed into a financial corner that she turns to sex work. Nothing especially unique about either of those elements.
Staring Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, Olivia Wilde's comedic coming-of-age film "Booksmart" follows two overachievers who attempt to cram years of high school fun into one night. Yet, their friendship will be tested when they are confronted with the changes and obstacles that come with graduation and growing up. One of the main messages of this film revolves around the importance of experience and breaking out of your comfort zone. Best buds, Molly and Amy both seem to have wasted the fun times of high school by relentlessly studying so they decide to turn the night before graduation into the ultimate high school experience.
“Take this Waltz” (2011) has the main character’s story undone slowly, with a meditative and varied look on relationships. There is a lot of restraint with the film, and its patience is where it flourishes, because it allows a deeper engagement with the subjects and the questions that it creates.
Margot (Michelle Williams) and Lou Seth Rogan are a married couple, distant at times, but with their own cute comforts and familiarities. There’s a sadness to Margot even though their life seems to be good. They are both writers, him a cook crafting a chicken recipe book, and her a writer of pamphlets for tourist locations.
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.
I had the unique privilege of reading My Abandonment in Pete Rock’s creative nonfiction class during my junior year at Reed College, a tiny, liberal arts school in Portland, Oregon. I already knew that I wanted to write a creative thesis my senior year, but I had not yet taken a creative writing class (oops). Pete was kind enough to take a chance on me, accepting me into his mostly full upper-level course. It was in this course that we read a vast array of creative nonfiction, a unique genre that Pete capped off with one of his own works.
The writing of My Abandonment is solid, of course, the story of a weathered Iraq war verteran and his thirteen-year-old daughter imbued with the rough Oregon life that I myself had been growing accustomed to for the past two and a half years.
Based on the book by Daniel Woodrell, "Winter's Bone" is a truly engrossing and remarkable film by Debra Granik who is such an underrated director and it's wonderful to see two of her films make our ITO Top 50 countdown. Adapted by Granik and Anne Rosellini, "Winter’s Bone" takes place in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, where teenage Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) is trying to provide for her household: her mother has become catatonic with depression and her younger brother and sister (Ashlee Thompson and Isaiah Stone) need looking after.