Best Picture nominee Jojo Rabbit, directed by New Zealand’s Taika Waititi, is bookended by two anachronisms: German-language versions of The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and David Bowie’s “Heroes.” These breaks in the historical tone help remove the viewer from the momentous cultural and political events of World War II. Waititi instead invites us into the life and mind of our protagonist: ten-year-old Johannes “Jojo” Betzler (played by Roman Griffin Davis), who is riding out the end of the war with his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), and his imaginary friend and idol, Adolph Hitler (Taika Waititi).
1917 is a movie about two young British soldiers in World War I, Lance Corporals Blake (played by Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay), who accept orders to cross nine miles of dangerous territory and deliver a message that will save the lives of 1,600 men, including the life of Blake’s older brother. As far as plots go, the setup of 1917 could hardly be simpler—take this envelope and give it to Colonel MacKenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch) by morning. Yet, the uncomplicated clarity of the journey-style plot permits the viewer to set aside the usual intricacies of war stories and descend into the trenches alongside two untested heroes.
When I heard that there was to be yet another film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel Little Women, I cringed. Don’t get me wrong, I love the March sisters. But the film industry has subjected viewers to scores of reboots these past few years—the endless array of Spider-Man movies and the live action Disney updates are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. While some remakes have been critical and popular successes (see 2018’s Best Picture nominee A Star is Born, for example), many of these cinematic reboots are a far cry from the original material that inspired them (see 2016’s Ben-Hur; or better yet, don’t see 2016’s Ben-Hur; stick to the 1959 classic). Hence my reaction to yet another film version of Little Women, which, over the last 100 years—in other words, since the dawn of the motion picture—has been made and remade for film and television more than a dozen times. I was worried that this latest version of Little Women, when compared to Gillian Armstrong’s beloved 1994 adaptation, was going to be a profound disappointment.
Editorial Note: This review contains spoilers.
Never having been one to buy into the hype of successful car-racing movies like The Fast and Furious franchise, I had serious doubts about Ford v Ferrari. If this movie was anything like others in the genre, with gratuitous fiery explosions and endless action scenes to compensate for a lackluster plot-line, my $13 would be better spent seeing Little Women for the third time.
Ford v Ferrari does include several fiery explosions. And much of the action-packed movie takes place at the Le Mans race track. But director James Mangold’s captivating retelling of this particular historical event held me in rapt attention for the full 2 hours and 32 minutes.