The final scenes of Greta Gerwig’s Little Women (2019) have been a source of contention among purists for their reinterpretation of the ending to the 1860s novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott, but it makes a postmodern statement about love, according to The Atlantic. Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) suggests the protagonist of her manuscript, Little Women, marry Friedrich Bhaer (Louis Garrel), when her surviving sisters, Meg (Emma Watson) and Amy (Florence Pugh), offer much of the film’s love as they encourage her to go after the professor. Alcott, who died a childless, unmarried virgin, still sacrificed out of love to an altruistic amount for her own family, caretaking for her aging parents, providing for her widowed older sister’s sons, as well as raising her youngest sister’s baby after she died in childbirth.
In an effort to combat arbitrary year-end lists and myopic annual box office summaries, IndieWire cited eight studio releases as well as four films from specialized companies for what they mean to future productions. Non-franchise auteur projects are making a comeback. The twelve movies are: Jon Favreau’s The Lion King (2019); James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari (2019); Rian Johnson’s Knives Out (2019); Jordan Peele’s Us (2019); David F. Sandberg’s Shazam! (2019); Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell (2019); Jon Watts’s Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019); Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers (2019); Michael Engler’s Downton Abbey (2019); Josh and Benny Safdie’s Uncut Gems (2019); Christian Petzold’s Transit (2018); and Nisha Ganatra’s Late Night (2019).
Not long after releasing a list of his favorite literary works from 2019, former president Barack Obama has posted a list of his favorite films from the past year to his Twitter as well as his Instagram, according to The Guardian. The list stokes the critical debate over television’s place in the cinematic conversation, for Obama includes three TV series he considers “as powerful as” the gritty dramas and awards season contenders comprising more than half the list. Obama first began publishing such lists in 2015, starting with books, and he aims to spotlight lesser-known artists alongside their higher-profile counterparts.
Daniel Lopatin, an electronic musician who also records under the name Oneohtrix Point Never, scored Josh and Benny Safdie’s Uncut Gems (2019), having collaborated with the brothers previously for Good Time (2017), according to NPR. Using an eclectic cocktail of old-school synthesizers, Mellotron flutes, saxophone solos, as well as an eight-person choir, the inspiration behind the cosmic, New Age soundtrack was Vangelis, the Greek synthesizer conductor. Lopatin says while film is expected to be more realistic, music is expected to be more fantastical, which is why such a meditative score of analog synthesizers is juxtaposed against such a chaotic movie.
With the passing of Anna Karina earlier this month, her inevitable immortalization as Jean-Luc Godard’s cinematic muse ignores her other screen credits, her music, her theatre, her filmmaking, her writing, and that she often elevated Godard’s work, according to The Guardian. François Truffaut once said of Catherine Deneuve, “I wouldn’t compare her to a flower or a bouquet, since there is a certain neutrality in her that leads me to compare her to the vase in which all the flowers are placed,” which summarizes the dynamic between auteurs and muses. As female filmmakers like Joanna Hogg collaborate with men like Tom Hiddleston, one cannot help but wonder if the male muse will be the next filmic trend, or if female authorship will be more egalitarian.
Phillips Smalley and Lois Weber’s The Jew’s Christmas (1913), a half-hourlong, three-reel picture written by Weber, is the first American film with a rabbi as a character, but represents its Jewish cast as intolerant of Christians and in need of assimilation, according to The Forward. Smalley himself plays Rabbi Isaac, but husband-and-wife filmmaking team Smalley and Weber were both Gentiles, and Carl Laemmle, the president of Universal Pictures at the time who greenlit the production, was Jewish. Weber would go on to become the first woman to direct a feature-length movie, The Merchant of Venice (1914), in the United States.
Levan Akin’s Swedish-Georgian production, And Then We Danced (2019), is Georgia’s first feature about gay love, provoking a crowd of five hundred men to force their way through a line of police in riot gear and into the Tbilisi premiere, according to BBC News. Discrimination against sexual orientation is illegal, but homophobic violence is still prevalent in Georgia’s right-wing culture, forcing many members of the LGBT community to lead double lives. The Georgian Orthodox Church, while condemning the protests, says the film is part of an agenda to normalize “the sin” of homosexuality; this comes after a bishop accused senior clergy of gay sex on live television.