Nomadland

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The Academy Awards aired last night, April 25, two months later than normal. And as I have since my toddler days, I watched with rapt attention as Oscars were handed out.

My intention to write a review for the winner of the Best Picture category involved some faith. This year, due to the unusual circumstances surrounding the film industry because of COVID, I saw six of the nine nominated movies. Typically I watch all of them. With theater closures and most of the films on different streaming services, I felt fortunate to see six of them!

Happily Nomadland, the Oscar winner, ranked among the films I viewed.

Nomadland title meme

Nomadland Cast

Nomadland stars Frances McDormand and David Strathairn. Most of the rest of the cast, including Linda May, Bob Wells and Charlene Swankie, are actual nomads or locals.

This drama is based on the non-fiction book by the same name, written by Jessica Bruder. Director Chloe Zhao also wrote the screenplay. The film carries an R rating, for mild adult themes, and has a run time of 1 hour and 47 minutes.

Nomadland received six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Cinematography. It won for Best Picture, Best Actress (McDormand) and Best Director (Zhao).

Becoming a Nomad

Fern (McDormand), a woman in her 60s, finds herself without a home. Following the death of her husband and the economic collapse of the company town they lived in, Fern stays in the tract house they shared, until she’s forced out.

With no place to go, Fern stores most of her belongings, purchases a second hand van and embarks on a journey. She travels from state to state, town to town, looking for employment. Fern lives life on the fringes of society, a nomad without roots.

Nomadland on the road

Nomadland nomads
Nomadland – friends and nomads, Fern and Linda May

Finding Community

While working a seasonal job at an Amazon fulfillment center, Fern befriends Linda May, a nomad who invites her to a desert gathering. There Fern meets Dave (Strathairn), a fellow traveler, and Bob Wells, who provides a support system and a community for nomads.

This group of sincere and self reliant souls teach Fern survival skills and rules for the road. No one in the group stays in one place for long. Soon it’s just Fern and an older woman named Swankie left in the desert campsite.

The two women develop a friendship as Swankie teaches Fern more self sufficiency skills. Before she too hits the road again, Swankie reveals that she has cancer. However, she assures Fern that she’s lived a good life, traveling the country. The sights she’s seen and the experiences she embraced make her feel like she’s done enough. Her life is complete.

Nomadland swankie
Nomadland – Swankie

The Nomad Life

At her next job, as camp host at an RV park with Linda May, Fern reconnects with Dave. The two find their relationship comforting, if a bit awkward at times.

Through long conversations, Fern convinces Dave to visit his son, and meet his daughter-in-law and new grandson. Although Dave invites Fern to accompany him, she refuses. The two part ways.

When her rusty old van breaks down, requiring funds for repairs, Fern is forced to visit her own family. Her sister and brother-in-law live very different lives. To an observer, Fern’s family is successful and well situated. To Fern, after a year of the nomad life, her sister’s life is stifling. The time spent in her sister’s cozy home creates a longing, however, for connection. Is she missing out by constantly moving from location to location and spending so much time alone?

Fern accepts an invitation to spend the holidays with Dave and his family. It’s a lovely time with good people. However, is she ready to settle into a “normal” life? Or is the call of the open road too strong?

Nomadland friends
Nomadland – Fern and Dave

My Thoughts About Nomadland

Initially, I felt drawn to this film because of the nomad lifestyle. Who hasn’t dreamed of taking off in an outfitted van, to explore the country? I actually follow several #vanlife accounts on Instagram and the photos they share of their adventures are inspiring. The beauty of that nomadic lifestyle creates a longing in me.

What Nomadland shows is the other side of such a lifestyle. For some, the nomadic life is forced upon them. Those individuals find it cheaper to live on the road and in free campsites rather than in traditional homes. Some older adults discover they can’t survive on monthly social security checks. Instead, they travel from job opportunity to job opportunity, working for a season and then moving on, for as long as they are able to.

Nomadland highlights a different kind of beauty, a stark one, found in solitude and community, living simply and sharing what you have. The nomads don’t post glamourous photos. They survive, one day at a time. And they help each other whenever they “meet down the road”. There’s rawness in the nomadic lifestyle, as portrayed in this film, along with courage and honesty.

Deserving of the Oscar Win

Does Nomadland deserve the Oscar for Best Picture? Yes, I believe it does even though I feel like The Father was deserving too, for very different reasons.

Therefore, see both movies. Let them unsettle you, stir your compassion and open your eyes to different realities. Let the struggles that others endure shift your perspectives and broaden your views. Both films did that for me.

If you’ve seen Nomadland, let me know your thoughts about the movie, in the comments below!

Nomadland - travel

Going Farther

Pick up a copy of the book by Jessica Bruder HERE.

Or purchase the movie, as a download, with this LINK.

Nomadland is also showing in select theaters across the US.

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

 

The Father

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

It’s one of my favorite times of year…award season! The Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards presented their top picks in cinema. The Academy Awards air at the end of the month, on April 25.

Although it’s been anything but a typical year for the movie industry, I’m following my usual practice of watching the Best Nominated Films ahead of the Oscars. What a sweet joy to view The Father at Bookhouse Cinema recently, rather than at home on a streaming service. I loved the experience, which felt amazing after viewing only two films at a theater last year.

The darkened theater experience, combined with the incredibly moving story of this film, deeply impacted me. I’m still thinking about this movie.

This is the Best Picture Nominated film, The Father.

The Father title meme

The Father Cast

This drama stars Anthony Hopkins, Oliva Colman, Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots and Rufus Sewell. The Father, which has a run time of 1 hour and 37 minutes, is directed by Florian Zeller and carries a PG-13 rating for occasional strong language and adult themes.

The Father earned six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor for Hopkins, Best Supporting Actress for Colman, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Production Design.

The Father argument
Father and daughter trying to understand each other, in The Father.

The Father Storyline

Anthony (Hopkins), an 84 year old man, lives alone in his beautiful London flat. His daughter Anne (Colman) works and enjoys her independent life while stopping by frequently to check on her father.

However, the frequency of her visits increases as first one and then another of her father’s caretakers quit. Anthony doesn’t believe he needs assistance. Unconvinced, Anne notes that her father sometimes appears confused or forgetful. Daily, it seems, Anthony misplaces his watch, then accuses one of the caretakers of stealing it.

Anthony oscillates between confusion one moment and belligerence about giving up his flat the next, leading Anne to make the difficult decision to move him into her place.

The Father Anthony Hopkins
Anthony Hopkins as the father.
The Father Olivia Colman
Olivia Colman as the daughter.

A Confusing World

Although Anne spends more time with her father, due to his close proximity, Anthony’s perception of reality continues to deteriorate.

He finds it difficult to sort out timelines. To him, Anne appears younger some days and older others. Strangers appear in the flat and just as quickly disappear. One minute Anne tells him she’s moving to Paris, to live with her new boyfriend  Paul (Sewell). The next, Anne’s husband James (Gatiss) appears in the front parlor, even though she claims they divorced five years ago.

Realizing she needs help, Anne hires Laura (Poots), to stay with her father during the day. When Anthony meets her, he’s struck by her resemblance to his younger daughter, Lucy (also Poots). It causes him to wonder why Lucy never visits him. He charms Laura, dancing and engaging in witty conversation, leaving Anne smiling and yet confused herself about his condition.

A doctor confirms Anne’s fears. Her father’s episodes of confusion signal the onset of dementia.

For Anthony, who insists his memory is fine, the world becomes increasingly small, confined within the walls of a flat that might be his…or might be Anne’s. And the people living with him…is this his daughter Anne? And his son-in-law? Or is that man his daughter’s boyfriend? And where is his other daughter, Lucy? Doesn’t Laura look just like Lucy?

And where, oh where, is his watch??

The Father charming Laura
The father charming Laura.
The Father telling stories
When you don’t remember details…make them up!

My Thoughts on The Father

This film had such a strong effect on me. Perhaps it’s because Greg’s mother died of Alzheimer’s and we lost her, bit by bit, long before her body wore out. Or perhaps it’s because Anthony Hopkins physically reminds me of Greg’s dad, who joined his dear wife almost six years ago. And then, my own father’s death anniversary popped up March 30…gone 11 years now. Or maybe it’s because I’m in my 60s now and cringe every time I suddenly forget a name.

The subject of dementia is a scary one for most people. And you’d expect a film about that devastating illness to be dark and depressing. It is a heavy subject, undoubtedly. However, I’m so grateful for this outstanding film.

The Father confusion
The world becomes so confusing, in The Father.

My Favorite Best Picture Film So Far

Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman both deserve their Oscar nominations. I felt completely undone by both performances, so much so that I sat quietly in my car after the movie and just felt all the emotions. And the emotions were many.

I laughed at times, delighted by Anthony’s charm, and I teared up, sympathetic to Anne’s pain and fear as her “Little Daddy” slipped away from her. Oft times, my body responded physically to what unfolded on the screen, feeling gut punched and breathless.

The Father is beautiful, edgy, difficult to watch and impossible to look away from.  Plus, it is unbelievably clever. This is the most intriguing film I’ve ever seen, about dementia. Anthony’s perspective on his confusing and ever shifting world instills in the viewer empathy and compassion for those in the grips of this horrible disease. The Father not only changes the way I perceive those with memory issues, it changes the way I respond to them.

See The Father. If you’ve ever known someone with dementia, or currently care for a loved one with this disorder, spend 97 minutes with this film. Allow it to upend your views and open your mind and soften your heart. And cry. Weep for those whose realities no longer make sense. Then offer them patience and unconditional love.

The Father daughter and little daddy
The father and his daughter.

Watch The Father at select theaters, or rent on Amazon Prime HERE.

Did you enjoy this review? Check out my review of the Bridgerton series!

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Movie Review Enola Holmes

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

I’m grateful this year for streaming services such as Netflix, Prime Video and CBS All Access. Thanks to them, I’m able to watch fresh films and series. Recently I enjoyed watching Enola Holmes, a very fresh film indeed with a connection to familiar characters.

Playful and clever, with mysteries to solve, the movie delights and offers important life lessons, especially for girls.

Check out my spoiler free movie review for Enola Holmes.

Movie Review Enola Holmes title meme

Enola Holmes Cast

This Netflix original movie stars Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, Helena Bonham Carter, Louis Partridge, Adeel Akhtar, Susan Wokoma and Fiona Shaw.

Harry Bradbeer directs the adventure crime drama. The film is based on the book “The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery” by Nancy Springer. There are currently six books in the series.

Enola Holmes carries a PG-13 rating, for mild violence and some intense scenes. The run time is 2 hours and 3 minutes.

Movie Review Enola Holmes lessons
Movie Review Enola Holmes – unconventional lessons…in the house

Enola Holmes

It’s 1884 in England and the world is changing. One who keenly recognizes this is Enola Holmes (Brown), the much younger sister of Sherlock (Cavill) and Mycroft (Claflin). Due to the huge age gap, Enola hardly knows her brothers and her father died long ago. Raised by an intelligent, forward thinking and rather eccentric mother, Enola benefits from an unconventional education at home.

Rather than the traditional lessons in embroidery and housekeeping, Enola studies science, literature, art and self defense. She shoots an arrow better than she cooks. And Enola and her mother Eudoria (Carter) play word games and create secret codes to communicate with using a homemade decipher dial. Throughout her childhood, Enola…which is the word “alone” spelled backwards…experiences a free and playful lifestyle.

Her world shifts on the morning of her 16th birthday when Enola wakes up and discovers her mother missing. Perplexed, Enola only finds a birthday box from Eudoria containing a booklet on flowers, pencils and cards. When a week passes with no word from her mother, Enola notifies her older brothers, who journey home.

Movie Review Enola Holmes with mother
Movie Review Enola Holmes – learning self defense
Movie Review Enola Holmes Sherlock and Mycroft
Movie Review Enola Holmes – Sherlock and Mycroft

The Holmes Brothers

Mycroft Holmes is a wealthy aristocrat, working for the government. And Sherlock has earned a reputation as a brilliant detective. It’s been many years since they’ve seen their baby sister. Mycroft is horrified by her disheveled appearance and the disarray at the house, Ferndell Hall.

Mycroft sends money to Eudoria each month, for a carriage and household staff and teachers for Enola, all of which are nonexistent. As Sherlock uses his analytical skills in the house, he realizes no foul play is involved. Eudoria left freely and apparently does not intend to come back. Why, the siblings do not know.

And what to do with their young sister? Enola cannot manage the estate alone.

Mycroft, who finds his sister annoying, plans to send her to a boarding school for what he considers much needed refinement. He is her guardian, after all.

Sherlock feels more sympathy for the girl and finds her interesting and clever. However, decisions for her future are not his to make.

Mycroft sends for Miss Harrison (Shaw), the strict head mistress of Miss Harrison’s Finishing School for Young Ladies. Although Enola begs to remain at home, Mycroft makes arrangements to send her to the school.

On her last night at home, Enola discovers an encrypted message in the birthday box from her mother. Following the clues she uncovers money that her mother left for her and a note: “Our future is up to you”. Dressing as a boy, Enola runs away, boarding a train for London.

Movie Review Enola Holmes with Sherlock
Movie Review Enola Holmes – brother and sister chat

The Missing Marquess

On the train, Enola meets a boy her age when he pops out of a large travel bag. He introduces himself as Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquis of Basilweather (Partridge). He too is running away, from a family who doesn’t understand him.

Enola wants nothing to do with the young viscount…until she hears him screaming for help. She finds a man trying to kill the boy. Enola fights off the attacker and together she and Tewkesbury leap from the train.

Walking toward London, the pair of teenagers share their stories. A friendship forms between them.

Reaching their destination, they go separate ways. Enola uses the money from her mother to buy fashionable clothing and rent a room in a boarding house. She takes on the disguise of a noblewoman while looking for her mother. Enola leaves secret messages in the newspapers, for her mother, and tracks down a correspondent Eudoria wrote to often, Ethel (Wokoma). Ethel tells Enola that Eudoria does not want to be found and that she has secret…and important…work to do.

Abandoning her search, Enola discovers that Tewkesbury’s life is in danger, as is her own. Throwing caution aside, Enola goes into detective mode, to unravel where the boy is hiding and why an assailant hunts for him.

Mycroft hires Detective Lestrade (Akhtar) to locate Enola, however Sherlock uses his own sleuthing skills to hunt for his clever and elusive sister. The game is afoot! Or in this multiple level mystery, the games are on. It’s a race to see who finds whom first…and who uncovers the deeper secrets.

Movie Review Enola Holmes with the marquess
Movie Review Enola Holmes – the young viscount
Movie Review Enola Holmes siblings
Movie Review Enola Holmes – siblings

My Thoughts on Enola Holmes

I thoroughly enjoyed this fun, well done film. Sherlock and Mycroft are familiar and recognizably in character however it is young Enola who dominates the story. Millie Bobby Brown, whose star is certainly rising since her role in Stranger Things, is amazing to watch as Enola.

This movie was in fact her idea. Millie and her sister Paige approached the author of the Enola Holmes series with the idea for the movie. As a result, Millie receives producer credits for the film. At age 16 she’s one of the youngest actresses to ever receive that distinction.

Enola Holmes is a powerful film for girls to watch. I love the relationship between the young detective and her mother and the unconventional way the girl was raised. And I like the growing relationship between Sherlock and his sister. Enola exhibits intelligence, resourcefulness, strength and character apart from her brothers. She knows what she wants to do…and she figures out how to do it, learning from mistakes as she goes. I laughed and smiled and teared up a few times.

Intending to recommend the movie to my almost 12 year old granddaughter, I discovered when I mentioned it that she’d already watched it. She loved it too. Aubrey enjoyed the mysteries and the clues and liked the young viscount’s friendship with Enola. I had fun discussing the movie with her. We both hope the other five books in the series become sequels to this first successful film. Enola Holmes leaves that possibility wide open.

Have you seen Enola Holmes yet, on Netflix? What did you think?

Movie Review Enola Holmes poster

Did you enjoy this movie review? You might also like these:

The Peanut Butter Falcon

Emma

Find the Enola Holmes Mystery Series on Amazon:

 


 

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

 

 

The Peanut Butter Falcon Movie Review

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

One thing I’ve missed this year, during shut ins and shut downs, is watching movies. My local Regal theater closed its doors last March, as did the little indie movie house.

Typically I write 30+ movie reviews a year and share them on the blog. This year? My film reviews number five and the year is far gone. (Read my last review on Emma.)

Netflix and Amazon Prime offer a variety of newer and older releases. And yet, I’ve watched very few films. My disappointment with the theater closures transferred to watching movies anywhere it seems.

It’s time to remedy that!

This week I created a list of films I’m interested in reviewing. First up, the sweet comedy drama The Peanut Butter Falcon.

The Peanut Butter Falcon title meme

The Peanut Butter Falcon Cast

Newcomer Zack Gottsagen headlines this film. Other cast members include Dakota Johnson, Shia LaBeouf, Thomas Haden Church, John Hawkes, Yelawolf and Bruce Dern. Pro wrestlers Jake Roberts and Mick Foley make appearances as well.

Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz wrote the screenplay for The Peanut Butter Falcon and directed the film. The movie carries a PG-13 rating, for adult themes, language, mild violence and the depiction of smoking, and has a run time of 1 hour and 37 minutes.

The Peanut Butter Falcon received 21 awards from a variety of indie and film organizations, including the Seal of Authentic Representation for the casting of Zack Gottsagen in the authentic representation of a person with a disability.

The Peanut Butter Falcon poster
The Peanut Butter Falcon movie poster.

Zak Escapes

Zak (Gottsagen) is a pleasant and sincere young man with Down Syndrome. Abandoned by his family, he resides in a senior care facility because he has no where else to go.

Passionate about professional wrestling, Zak and his elderly roommate Carl (Dern) watch the same VHS tape multiple times a day. It features colorful pro wrestler Salt Water Redneck (Church), who ends his video with an enthusiastic invitation to join him at his wrestling school in Ayden, North Carolina.

More than anything in the world, Zak wants to attend that wrestling school and become a pro wrestler like Salt Water Redneck. His failed escape attempts earn him a “flight risk” status and the watchful attention of his favorite caregiver, Eleanor (Johnson).

However, when you deeply desire something, you don’t give up.

Carl helps Zak escape one night, through the bent bars of their window. Wearing only his whitey tighties, Zak experiences exhilarating freedom as he flees.

The Peanut Butter Falcon escape
The Peanut Butter Falcon – Zak contemplating escape

Traveling Buddies

Zak discovers an old fishing boat moored on a river estuary and seeks shelter for the night beneath a tarp.

The boat belongs to Tyler (LaBeouf), another young man on the run for different reasons. Alone as well, after the death of his older brother, Tyler struggles to play by the rules. He resorts to poaching crab pots until the owner, Duncan (Hawkes), and his sidekick Ratboy (Yelawolf), threaten him. When Tyler responds with the destruction of Duncan’s fishing equipment, he’s forced to flee in the old fishing boat that Zak innocently sleeps in.

Although he’s sympathetic toward Zak, Tyler has no intention of helping him. However, a kinship grows between the two. The poacher on the run becomes Zak’s unlikely training coach, traveling companion and ultimately his friend.

Tyler sees Zak as someone who can accomplish his dream. And Zak responds to that belief by trying new experiences and going beyond his comfort zone. When Tyler suggests that Zak create his own wrestler name, he comes up with the Peanut Butter Falcon.

The Peanut Butter Falcon travelers
The Peanut Butter Falcon – kinship
The Peanut Butter Falcon Eleanor
Eleanor

Never Give Up

In a Mark Twain like twist, Zak and Tyler construct a raft and travel by river toward the wrestling school. They are joined on their journey by Eleanor, who is searching for Zak to return him to the senior facility.

Tyler helps Eleanor see Zak differently. Her concern for the young man causes her to coddle him and view him as not capable of caring for himself. Zak shows her just how capable he is.

Initially Eleanor accompanies the pair of adventurers to keep an eye on Zak. As her fear lessens, she continues with them to see Zak’s dream of reaching the wrestling school realized.

When the trio finally arrives in Ayden, they discover that circumstances have changed for Salt Water Redneck. The VHS tape is at least ten years old and the school no longer exists.

But dreams nurtured and carried for that long do not easily wither and die. And the spirit of the dream carrier is as strong as his determination to wrestle. There comes a time when one must stop running away from things and instead, run toward what’s most wanted.

Will the Peanut Butter Falcon earn his chance to appear in the ring?

The Peanut Butter Falcon PBF
Zak as The Peanut Butter Falcon
The Peanut Butter Falcon friendship
The Peanut Butter Falcon – the power of friendship

My Thoughts on The Peanut Butter Falcon

This is a beautifully presented film, for many reasons. The cinematography captures the feel of the deep south, with most of the action taking place along marshy rivers.

The relationship between Tyler, Zak and Eleanor seems like an extension of the friendship that developed between the actors. Their bond perfectly exemplifies Carl’s sentiment, at the beginning of the film, that “friends are the family you choose”.

The heart of this enchanting movie, however, is Zack Gottsagen and his outstanding performance.

This movie came about because the directors met Zack at a camp, where he expressed his desire to be in a movie. They wrote the script around him, turning Zack’s dreams into a reality while creating a similar journey for the character he played.

Zack Gottsagen stands squarely on his own talents as an actor, giving a sincere and thought provoking performance that made me laugh out loud and sniffle through tears. He moved me and I look forward to seeing him in future films.

The Peanut Butter Falcon Zack
Zack Gottsagen

Watch The Peanut Butter Falcon

You can watch this endearing film for free on Amazon Video if you have a Prime Membership. (Snag a free trial HERE). Or click the image below to purchase it.

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Movie Review Emma

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Just before movie theaters shut down in March, across the US, I anticipated seeing the new theatrical release Emma. I love this story by Jane Austen  and I’ve enjoyed previous film adaptations. In fact, the 1996 version with Gwyneth Paltrow in the title role is one of my favorite movies.

Imagine my disappointment when the theater closed the same week I intended to view this fresh version of Emma. Although I appreciate so much the big screen experience with new releases, I’m grateful for streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video. This weekend I settled in for an afternoon of entertainment, watching this film at last.

How did it compare with the 1996 version?

Here it is, my Movie Review Emma.

Movie Review Emma title meme

Cast and Characters of Emma

Emma stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Mia Goth, Bill Nighy, Gemma Whelan, Rupert Graves, Miranda Hart, Josh O’Connor, Amber Anderson, Callum Turner and Tanya Reynolds.

Autumn de Wilde directed this period piece romantic comedy. And Eleanor Catton wrote the screenplay, based on the novel by Jane Austen. Emma carries a PG rating for brief nudity and has a run time of 2 hours and 4 minutes.

Movie Review Emma friends
Movie review Emma – friends

Emma the Matchmaker

Set in the early 19th century, in the little town of Highbury, England, the story focuses on Emma Woodhouse (Taylor-Joy), the precocious younger daughter of Mr. Woodhouse (Nighy).

Emma is handsome, clever and rich, with a comfortable home and a happy disposition. And she had lived nearly 21 years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.

She is also spoiled, stubborn and meddlesome, although she’s motivated by kindness and people are willing to indulge her whims. Content to never marry, Emma nonetheless believes herself an excellent matchmaker. After all, she successfully brought together her former governess, Miss Taylor (Whelan) and the widower Mr. Weston (Graves).

Encouraged by that happy union, Emma decides to make another match, this time with her new friend Harriet (Goth) and the town’s vicar, Mr. Elton (O’Connor).

Emma’s closest friend and confidante, the moody Mr. Knightley (Flynn) warns the headstrong girl to beware meddling in affairs of the heart. She pays him no heed.

Movie Review Emma Mr. Woodhouse
Movie Review Emma – Mr. Woodhouse

Emma’s Mismatches

What pursues are hilarious misadventures as Emma’s carefully thought out plans falter.

Harriet, a sweet girl of unknown parentage, is wooed by a young man who farms in the area. Although he is kind and intelligent, Emma persuades Harriet that he is beneath her. She convinces Harriet to refuse the farmer’s attentions and set her sights higher. While she pushes Harriet toward Mr. Elton, the vicar is actually hoping to impress Emma.

Meanwhile, Emma looks forward to meeting Mr. Weston’s handsome and mysterious son, Frank (Turner). When he finally appears, he leads Emma on, but it turns out he is secretly engaged to Jane Fairfax (Anderson) the beautifully sad niece of the tiresome spinster, Miss Bates (Hart).

After an astounded Emma refuses a marriage proposal from Mr. Elton, the vicar snubs Harriet by marrying a snobbish woman he barely knows. She becomes the new Mrs. Elton (Reynolds). Harriet then turns her romantic attention to Mr. Knightley, much to Emma’s consternation.

Emma’s matchmaking creates a tangled mess of emotions until she does what Mr. Knightley urged her to do all along. When she steps back, and allows people to follow their own hearts, true love draws people together naturally.

And Emma discovers that love is waiting there for her too, if she will only open her own heart.

Movie Review Emma dance
Movie Review Emma – the ball

My Thoughts on Emma

It’s interesting watching a new adaptation of this classic story. I’m so familiar with the dialogue, which is lifted from the novel, that I can quote portions of it as the actors say their lines.

However, I enjoyed the freshness of this version. The scenes are slightly different to very different from the 1996 film. And the actors brings their unique perspectives to the roles.

I loved Bill Nighy as Mr. Woodhouse. He is an amazing actor and his performances make me smile, or in this film, laugh outright. His delivery style is perfect for the role of the solemn, fretful Mr. Woodhouse. Hands down, he is my favorite as this character.

Anya Taylor-Joy shines as Emma. It’s hard for me to see anyone but Gwyneth in the role, however Anya conveys the good-hearted if spoiled Emma perfectly. She’s excellent at allowing her expressions to speak volumes while she remains silent.

And I never thought I’d appreciate anyone as much as I appreciate Jeremy Northam in the role of Mr. Knightley. However, Johnny Flynn, whom I enjoyed as Albert Einstein in the Genius Series, won my approval. He’s mastered that stern, brooding look. When he turns it on Emma, she listens. And so do I.

Movie Review Emma Mr. Knightley
Movie Review Emma – Mr. Knightley

Emma Delights

If you enjoy period piece films or romantic comedies, catch this one on Prime Video. I love that the roles of novel author, screenplay writer and director are all filled by talented women. It’s incredibly fitting for a film about a woman with strong qualities and values.

And, I appreciate the opportunity to actually see this movie. I’m currently very concerned about the future of movie theaters. The impact of COVID19 is keenly felt in the film industry as it is in so many other areas.

I’m grateful for services such as Prime Video and Netflix, that offer an amazing assortment of films worth watching. However, I’m not ready to give up seeing movies as they are intended to be viewed…on a big screen in a darkened theater. Movies have greatly shaped my life. I’m holding hope in my heart that the industry will continue on for many years.

Have you seen the newest Emma? Rent it HERE and let me know if you enjoyed it!

Movie Review Emma Miss Woodhouse
Movie Review Emma – Miss Woodhouse

Amazon Prime Video

Not a Prime member? Get a 30 day free trial, and access to thousands of movies and series by clicking HERE.

Already a Prime member? Watch the rental or purchase the Emma DVD HERE.

And if you’ve never read this classic, pick it up below by clicking on the photo:

 

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

JoJo Rabbit Movie Review

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

During the weeks leading up to the 92nd Academy Awards, I enjoyed watching all of the Best Picture nominated films. Nine outstanding films offered nine important messages about society, determination, war, peace, acceptance and inclusion. For a brief summary of each worthy film and to discover which one won the Oscar, in case you don’t know, read my post Best Picture Winner.

I found truths to appreciate about all nine films. Joker impacted me the greatest, with its bleak portrayal of a man struggling to find his place in society. This film though, JoJo Rabbit, really pulled me in to the story and stayed with me. So much so, that I want to share a more in-depth review.

This is a spoiler free review of the unique film, JoJo Rabbit, an anti-hate satire that uses dark humor to pierce the heart, and lodge there.

JoJo Rabbit title meme 2

JoJo Rabbit Cast

This history inspired drama, with comedic overtones, stars Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johannson, Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant and Archie Yates.

The screenplay, written by Taika Waititi, was inspired by the novel “Caging Skies” by Christine Leunens. Waititi won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and the film received five more Academy nominations, including Best Picture. JoJo Rabbit carries a PG-13 rating, for moderate profanity, intense scenes and mild violence, and has a run time of 1 hour and 49 minutes.

JoJo Rabbit JoJo and Yorkie
Best friends, JoJo and Yorkie
Imaginary friend
JoJo Rabbit and his imaginary friend.

JoJo’s Big Dream

Ten year old JoJo Betzler (Davis) lives with his mother Rosie (Johannson) in a little town in Germany during WWII. His father is absent, fighting in another country, leaving JoJo the little man of the house while his mother works to provide for them.

Often left on his own, JoJo longs for connection and a cause to fight for. More than anything, this earnest and patriotic boy wants a place in Hitler’s Nazi army. He idolizes the Fuhrer so much that Adolf (Waititi) appears as JoJo’s imaginary friend. JoJo poses his many questions to Hitler and in return, the Fuhrer offers advice and commentary on the boy’s life, cheering him on when necessary.

And it is often necessary. JoJo and his best friend Yorki (Yates) dwell on the fringes when they attend a training camp for Hitler youth. Led by Captain Klezendorf (Rockwell), his second in command Finkel (Allen) and Fraulein Rahm (Wilson) the camp employs unusual techniques to teach their young comrades obedience, loyalty and intolerance.

Although JoJo strives for excellence, the older boys torment him. He earns the nickname, JoJo Rabbit, when he refuses to kill a rabbit on command. After he runs off into the woods, Hitler appears to offer a pep talk. He tells JoJo that rabbits possess excellent qualities such as speed and sends the boy sprinting back into camp.

JoJo leaps into the circle of boys as Captain Klezendorf holds aloft a live grenade. Full of adrenaline fueled courage, JoJo grabs the grenade and dashes off with it, barely tossing it before it explodes. That’s the end of youth camp for JoJo, who returns home to recover from his serious injuries.

JoJo Rabbit mother and son
The bond between mother and son.

The Secret Upstairs

JoJo recovers slowly from the accident, which leaves him with scars on his face and a limp. Feeling he’s ugly now, the lonely boy seeks seclusion at home. Even Hitler’s chats don’t cheer him up.

Rosie uses humor and a mother’s love to pull her son out of his isolation. They ride bicycles and take long walks together. She attempts to broaden his perspective by speaking truthfully about the war efforts.

“The Reich is dying. We’re going to lose the war and then what are you going to do, hmm? Life is a gift. We must celebrate it. We have to dance to show God we are grateful to be alive.”

At home alone one day, JoJo hears suspicious noises upstairs. Stealthily tracking down the sounds, he pauses outside his sister’s room. She passed away recently. Her bedroom remains untouched. Unexpectedly, JoJo discovers a young woman, Elsa (McKenzie) secreted away behind a false wall. Hidden there by Rosie, JoJo is shocked to learn Elsa is Jewish.

Everything JoJo learned about the Jewish race appears to be wrong. Elsa doesn’t have horns or evil intentions. Although he and Hitler plot to get rid of her initially, JoJo decides to write a book about the Jewish people, with Elsa supplying the information. The more the boy learns from Elsa, the more confused he becomes. She seems nice. And like him, she spends a great deal of time alone. A friendship blossoms between them.

When the gestapo shows up at the house, led by Captain Deertz (Merchant), JoJo no longer wants to rid himself of Elsa. Instead, like his mother, he seeks to protect her. How much longer will they be able to do so? And at what risk?

JoJo Rabbit group meeting

Elsa
Elsa, living life hidden away.

My Thoughts on JoJo Rabbit

I attended the viewing for this film with no idea of the story line, beyond the Germany setting during WWII. In fact, it’s likely I would have missed this movie had it not received a Best Picture nomination, deeming it “not my style of film”. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to change my opinion.

This is a quirky, oddly hilarious at times, completely heart-warming film with amazing portrayals by a talented cast. I can’t praise it enough. From the strange relationship between JoJo and Hitler to the tender one between mother and son to the growing friendship between German boy and Jewish girl, this movie captivated me. I laughed and I teared up. And at one point I wanted to wail with sorrow. While JoJo Rabbit appears lighthearted on the surface, it impacts the heart deeply and it broadens the mind.

I love Waititi’s brilliance as a screenplay writer, director and actor. He moved me and unsettled me. I eager anticipate anything else he creates.

JoJo Rabbit Taika Waititi
Taika Waititi is from New Zealand.

The Takeaway

The scene that I cannot forget is near the end of the movie. The town is under attack as the war draws to a close. Fraulein Rahm thrusts rifles into the hands of young boys with these instructions: “Shoot anyone that doesn’t look like us.”

I can’t forget that line. Shoot anyone…kill anyone…that doesn’t look like us. One can easily substitute other words. Ridicule anyone…ignore anyone…bully anyone…attempt to control anyone…hurt anyone…shame anyone…that doesn’t look like us.

With a single line Waititi powerfully reminds us of what it means to be human and to love humanity, whether they look like us, like me, like you, or not. Movies like JoJo Rabbit give me hope that we are growing, and can continue to, even though we have a long journey yet ahead.

Let me know if you’ve seen this unforgettable film and share your thoughts.

JoJo Rabbit anti hate satire
An anti-hate satire

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Knives Out Movie Review

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Knives Out is my first movie review for 2020. It’s a fun film. Fans of whodunnits or the game Clue will enjoy this wild twisty turny story peopled with outrageous characters.

Check out the spoiler free review and catch this comedy mystery in the theater before it’s gone.

Knives Out title meme

Knives Out Cast

Knives Out stars Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Christopher Plummer, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martel, Riki Lindhome and K Callan. Rian Johnson wrote and directed the film. It carries a PG-13 rating, for mild violence and moderate profanity, and has a run time of 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Knives Out is nominated for an Oscar, for Best Original Screenplay.

Knives Out Movie Review

The Family

Head of the family Harlan Thrombey (Plummer) is an eccentric, wealthy crime novelist. For his 85th birthday, he invites his entire family to his mansion to celebrate and then receive important news.

The family arrives, full of expectations. Daughter Linda (Curtis), the real estate mogul, fawns over her father, fusses with husband Richard (Johnson) and frets about their rebellious son Ransom (Evans). Daughter-in-law Joni (Collette), wife of Harlan’s deceased son Neil, brings along her daughter Megan (Langford), eager for monetary handouts. And younger son Walter (Shannon), ever in his father’s shadow, rounds out the family group with his shrill wife Donna (Lindhome) and teenage son Jacob (Martell). The family continually circles around their patriarch, not with concern and care but like predators watching for weakness.

And weakness is present with advancing age. Harlan employs Marta (de Armas) as his caretaker. She not only administers his meds and ensures his rest, she listens to Harlan’s stories and plays a complicated board game called Go with him every evening. Their relationship is more meaningful and genuine than any of the familial connections.

Knives Out Marta
Marta the Caregiver

The Mystery

The morning after his birthday party, with all of his family spending the night in the house, Harlan Thrombey is found dead. Although his death is initially thought a suicide, the household is turned upside down when the police arrive.

As Detective Benoit Blanc (Craig) and Lieutenant Elliot (Stanfield) question every family member, the complete truth floats just out of reach. Reality shifts with each interview. Relationships aren’t what they seem. Motives are uncovered. Greed and fear of missing out create a desperation that causes “knives to come out”.

Blanc calmly and methodically sorts through the deceptions, ever closing in on the truth. He combines shrewdness with keen observation to uncover what really happened on the night of Harlan’s birthday party.

Knives Out the Caretaker and the Detective
Knives Out – The Caretaker and The Detective

My Thoughts on Knives Out

In spite of the darker subject, this is a fun movie. Much like in the old Columbo television series, the viewers know more about the situation than the characters in the film do, including Detective Blanc. And yet, there are plot twists that make the story a true whodunnit for the audience as well. As I watched, my mind sorted through stories and statements along with Blanc, puzzling out who was who and how motives drove each person.

Daniel Craig surprises as soon as he opens his mouth. His character speaks with a deep southern drawl, which honestly took me a few minutes to get used to. How do actors master those accents? He is a delight, in a role that differs greatly from his portrayal of James Bond and yet makes use of some of those attributes. He is clever and charming and ever watchful.

One of the more comedic roles comes from K Callan, who portrays Harlan’s mother. If he’s celebrating his 85th birthday, how old is she? No one in the family knows! The dear lady isn’t senile, just invisible to her family. One of the more touching scenes in the film involves her too and a conversation between her and Blanc.

Knives Out The Family

I Love a Good Mystery

Knives Out is funny, playful, thoughtful and satisfying in its conclusion. I love a good mystery. In fact, a whodunnit is one of my favorite film genres. I enjoyed Murder on the Orient Express too.

Have you seen Knives Out yet? Or do you have a favorite whodunnit? I want to know. Maybe you’ve seen one that I’ve missed!

The Patriarch
Harlan Thrombey, the Patriarch

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