As a novel, “Little Women” had been published in two volumes, one in 1868 and the other in 1869, but the volumes are combined in the film, interwoven together in a rearranged timeline that jumps back and forth, spotlighting their hopes and dreams as teenagers, then tempering those ambitions with the grimmer realities of the real world in their adulthood. It spins the yarn of four young sisters with artistic and romantic ambitions – Jo, Amy, Meg, and Beth – living with their mother Marmee while their father is off fighting in the Civil War. Much of this film adaptation by writer-director Greta Gerwig concentrates on Jo’s story regarding her ambition and struggle to become a published writer. Throughout the course of the film, we see her maturation by finding her voice, both as a woman and as a writer. Featuring Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Timothee Chalomet, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, and Meryl Streep.
Set in 2012, Uncut Gems is a part crime drama and part character study, following the dealings of Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a New York jewelry merchant doing business by appointment in his highly secure private showroom. Not all is peachy-keen in Howard’s life, as his marriage is on the rocks, his mistress has begun to make him feel insecure, his lack of work ethic beginning to sour customers, he just might have colon cancer, and his gambling addiction has gotten him into a lot of debt that he can’t pay back easily. He’s a sucker for get-rich-quick schemes to keep him out of trouble; his latest involved the procuring of a large uncut Ethiopian black opal that may be worth up to a million dollars.
Enter Boston Celtics star, Kevin Garnett, who takes an immediate interest in purchasing the rare jewel upon seeing it, but is denied a sale because Howard already has it set up to auction within a few days. Garnett ends up borrowing the opal in exchange for one of his championship rings and has one of the best games of his career on the basketball court, making it the good-luck charm he has to have at the tail-end of his career. In the meantime, Howard has ended up pawning off Garnett’s ring and used the money to bet big on Garnett’s performance.
Directed by Benny and Joshua Safdie.
1917 takes place in Northern France amid the Great War. Lance Corporals Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay) are two British soldiers commanded to carry orders from their General (Colin Firth) across No Man’s Land then behind German-occupied enemy lines. The mission-critical orders are for a battalion of 1600 British soldiers, including Blake’s brother, to stand down from their planned raid the next morning against the Germans who are setting them up for a massive ambush. Through trenches, decimated towns, and bombed-out structures, the duo traverses, cautiously but expeditiously, to save the lives of their fellow soldiers. Sam Mendes directs.
Most of the film surrounds the events leading up to France’s illustrious 24 Hours of Le Mans auto racing event, mostly glossing over Ford losses in 1964 and 1965 as roads poorly chosen. We start with Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), a former elite racecar driver, the first American driver to win at Le Mans, who retires into designing racecars and coaching the next generation of elite racers after finding out he has heart disease. Considered a maverick by his contemporaries, his services are sought when the Ford Motor Company, who are attempting to brand their vehicles to younger people who want style and sex appeal in the cars they buy, planned to acquire the financially struggling Ferrari in 1963. Those plans fall through spectacularly, leaving both sides feeling insulted. Ford wants to show Ferrari, and the world, that they are more than just a company that can mass produce family vehicles. Shelby sets about building what would come to be known as the Ford GT40 model, trying to maximize power and minimize weight and drag to be the fastest racer on Earth.
Christian Bale plays British racecar driver Ken Miles, sought by Shelby to help his test out his designs to give them a chance to come out on top in the grudge match between Ford and Ferrari. He’s skilled at what he does, but Henry Ford II wants him replaced by someone less of a loose cannon and willing to tow the Ford line to the media. Ken’s wife, Mollie (Caitriona Balfe), and his son, Peter (Noah Jupe), feel ambivalence about his quest to be the best. They want him to bring home the bacon, but they’re also afraid that he’ll be another casualty in the car racing arena who doesn’t get out of his car in time. Shelby must weigh his friendship and knowledge that Miles is the best shot to win with the needs of his funders, who are only in it to promote their brand. James Mangold directs.