Tag Archives: Winona Ryder

Little Women — Official Trailer

The 8th? 15th? 147th? film version of Little Women is headed right at us on Christmas Day, and can there be any doubt that this will be a hugely successful movie? From the trailer, it sounds as if Greta Gerwig has brought this staging of Louisa May Alcott’s mid-19th century novel into the 21st century, for better or worse. Probably for better.

Like (almost) all the previous film versions of Little Women, this one benefits from the talents of its superlative female cast, including Florence Pugh (English) as Amy, Saoirse Ronan (Irish) as Jo,  Eliza Scanlen (Australian) as Beth and Emma Watson (English, but born in Paris) as Meg. Laura Dern plays and Marmee and Meryl Streep plays Aunt March, because of course she does.

The male cast is equally impressive, with James Norton (English) as John Brooke,  and Louis Garrel (French) as Professor Bhaer, and Timothée Chalamet  (USA! USA!) as Laurie. It will be interesting to see what Bob Odenkirk, Saul Goodman himself, does with the role of Mr. March.


Out of the Past  —  Some Earlier Versions


Many people consider the 1933 version of Little Women the best.

The Little Women

Joan Bennett as Amy
Katharine Hepburn as Jo
Jean Parker as Beth
Frances Dee as Meg

Notes

Aunt March was played by the great Edna May Oliver who steals every scene she’s in, as she inevitably did in all her movies.
The German Professor Bhaer was played by Paul Lukas, who was Hungarian.
Joan Bennet was 23 and pregnant when she signed on to play 12-year-old Amy.


The next version came out in 1949, 16 years and one World War later.

The Little Women

Elizabeth Taylor (in a blonde wig) as Amy
June Allyson as Jo
Margaret O’Brien as Beth
Janet Leigh as Meg

Notes

Peter Lawford was Laurie.
The German Professor Bhaer was played by Rossano Brazzi, who was Italian.
Mary Astor played Marmee, but she’ll always be Brigid O’Shaughnessy to me.
June Allyson, 31 and pregnant, played 15-year-old Jo.


The 1978 miniseries was bad beyond belief. Oh, was it awful!

The Little Women

Ann Dusenberry as Amy
Susan Dey as Jo
Eve Plumb as Beth
Meredith Baxter as Meg

Notes

The senior roles were played by movie stars from the 1940s: Dorothy McGuire as Marmee, Greer Garson as “Aunt Kathryn March”, and Robert Young as “Grandpa James Laurence”.
None of the actresses playing the March girls was known to be pregnant while production was underway.
The sisters were played by television actresses who were TV-famous at the time, but are now largely forgotten. Their line readings were pure 1978 California-contemporary and their acting would have been just fine in a community theatre production, if the community was home to fewer than 500 people.
It’s impossible to ignore the cast’s ridiculous wigs.
The whole miniseries looked cheap. The sets, the costumes, and the mediocre performances all but shouted out “Low Budget”.

But there’s really only one thing you need to know to comprehend what a disaster this production was:
The German Professor Bhaer was played by—wait for it—William Shatner.
He’s Canadian, I think.


With its first-rate cast, the 1994 remake is right up there with the version made 61 years earlier, in 1933.


The Little Women

Kirsten Dunst as Younger Amy
Samantha Mathis as Older Amy
Winona Ryder as Jo
Claire Danes as Beth
Trini Alvarado as Meg

Notes

Susan Sarandon played Mrs. March and Christian Bale played Laurie.
The German Professor Bhaer was played by Gabriel Byrne, who is Irish.

Stranger Things 2 — Final Trailer

But first, the teaser for the trailer:

It’s Halloween, 1984, and all is not well in Hawkins, Indiana. The kids are still in trouble, a big ugly monster with a lot of tentacles is creeping around, and Wynona Ryder is freaking out again. It’s almost time for Stranger Things 2.

The conventional wisdom is that the sequel is never as good as the original, but there are exceptions to the rule. There are arguments to be made, for instance, that The Godfather Part II, Aliens, and The Empire Strikes Back improve on their predecessors.

Stranger Things, Netflix’s homage to the Steven Spielberg/Stephen King version of the 1980s, was the big television hit of the summer of 2017, and one of the most talked-about media events of the year.

In two weeks, we’ll see if lightning can strike twice in the same place. (Hint: It can.)

On Friday, 27 October 2018, Netflix will make all the episodes of Stranger Things 2 available for streaming.


A Little Bonus

Stranger Things and the Less-Than-Perfect Insight of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Here are the first eight minutes of Netflix’s hit series, Stranger Things.


If you’ve not yet binged on Stranger Things, what are you waiting for?  It’s one of the most enjoyable rides of the summer of 2016.  This homage to the Stephen King/Steven Spielberg pop entertainments of the 1980s may be the best series Netflix has ever produced.

It’s like watching a classic mid-80s film for the first time, and actually being in the 80s when you do it!  It takes you right back, thanks in part to the terrific 80s soundtrack, but mainly because it perfectly duplicates the look and feel of 80s film, right down to the show’s title font.  Highest recommendation.


And then there’s this.

My own favourite 80s movie is Heathers.  When I posted about it a while back, I wrote:

“It was also the absolute peak for many of the people involved.  Daniel Waters, who famously wrote the screenplay while working in a video store, followed it up with the scripts for the notorious bombs The Adventures of Ford Fairlane and Hudson Hawk.  He doesn’t have many IMDB credits in the 20 years since then.  Winona Ryder and Christian Slater seemed on the edge of major stardom at the time, but their later careers have never lived up to those expectations.”

So here it is, 28 years later, and who’s starring in two of the buzziest and most acclaimed TV shows of summer?   Winona Ryder in Stranger Things and Christian Slater in Mr. Robot.

Fitzgerald was so wrong when he claimed, “There are no second acts in American lives.”

Stranger Things on Netflix

All eight episodes of Stranger Things, Netflix’s homage to 80s supernatural-lite films, go online today.  And who better than Winona Ryder, the indie crowd’s ultimate movie dream girl in the 80s, to star in a movie set in that decade?  Bonus:  Matthew Modine, although he was in no way the indie crowd’s ultimate movie dream boy in the 80s, shows up as a bad guy government agent.

It’s obviously impossible to watch the trailer without being reminded of E.T. and Goonies, but Stranger Things is considerably darker.

The early reviews have been excellent.  I know how I’ll be spending part of my weekend!

“Heathers: The Musical”

Heathers: The Musical

Heathers: The Musical

Heathers: The Musical opens Off-Broadway this Saturday, 15 March.  It looks like it’s got a lot of talent involved in the production.

Way back in 1988, I saw a preview of the movie Heathers a couple of weeks before it opened in DC.   The official reviews weren’t out yet, but early word was wildly positive, and my friend Doug and I were super excited to see it.   As the movie started, Doug whispered “You know, this has the potential to be a huge disappointment”.

It wasn’t.  Brilliant film, with a script that was close to perfection.  Heathers is a classic–one of the all-time great black comedies, and one of my 20-or-so favorite movies.

It was also the absolute peak for many of the people involved.  Daniel Waters, who famously wrote the screenplay for while working in a video store, followed it up with the scripts for the notorious bombs The Adventures of Ford Fairlane and Hudson Hawk.  He doesn’t have many IMDB credits in the 20 years since then.  Winona Ryder and Christian Slater seemed on the edge of major stardom at the time, but their later careers have never lived up to those expectations.

I found an interesting website that features some fascinating trivia about Heathers.  And here’s a trailer for the film: