Lady Bird

Film Review: Lady Bird

First, let me say that Lady Bird has nothing whatever to do with LBJ’s wife. The name is self-applied by teenaged Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), a high school student facing the challenges of her senior year. Writer/director Greta Gerwig presents many familiar situations but enlivens them with quirky details inspired by her own life. The result is a relatable and often very funny portrait of a young individualist. Lady Bird and her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) are enough alike to be on[Read more]
Say Anything Boombox

Film Appreciation: Say Anything….

Cameron Crowe’s 1989 directorial debut is an appealing film about a romance between two very different young people living in Seattle. One is a beautiful valedictorian, winner of a fellowship to study in England. The other is more interested in kickboxing than college. In the early scenes, newly graduated Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) tries to work up the nerve to ask valedictorian Diane Court (Ione Skye) on a date. His close female friends (Lili Taylor, Amy Brooks, Pamela Adlon) call Diane “a [Read more]
Breaking Away The Guys

Leaving High School: List For Week Ending November 12, 2017

Our films this week deal with graduating high school students getting ready for their next step. Some films (Lady Bird) focus mainly on the decision-making process during senior year. Others (American Graffiti) show teenagers who are eager to move on or rethinking their plans. Either way, it can make for wonderful cinema. This is not intended as an all-inclusive list. Reader suggestions are welcome. If you know an addition to this list, please write using the comments below. Lady Bird (2017) ([Read more]
The Square On Table

Film Review: The Square

In 2014, Swedish writer/director Ruben Östlund had a great success with Force Majeure. This film portrays a family whose blissful ski vacation is jeopardized by what appears to be a life-threatening avalanche. The husband bolts in panic, leaving his wife to fend for herself and their two children. Although the avalanche turns out to be minor, damage to the couple’s marriage is not. Östlund explores the same theme-an individual’s actions versus what is expected by the social contract- in hi[Read more]
Thank You For Smoking Nick

Film Appreciation: Thank You For Smoking

Jason Reitman’s debut film as a writer/director is savagely funny. Although Reitman simplifies Christopher Buckley’s novel in his adaptation, the plot is still gleefully subversive. The story focuses on super-confident Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), lobbyist for the Academy of Tobacco Studies. He continues to insist their studies have found no links between smoking and lung cancer. A sexy journalist named Heather Holloway (Katie Holmes) interviews him, and the two begin a passionate affair. Th[Read more]
Classics are still being made

Film Review: Lady Bird

Film Review: Lady Bird

First, let me say that Lady Bird has nothing whatever to do with LBJ’s wife. The name is self-applied by teenaged Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), a high school student facing the challenges of her senior year. Writer/director Greta Gerwig presents many familiar situations but enlivens them with quirky details inspired by her own life. The result is a relatable and often very funny portrait of a young individualist.

Lady Bird and her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) are enough alike to be on each other’s nerves constantly. A clinical psychologist, Marion works diligently to keep their family afloat after her husband Larry (Tracey Letts) loses his job. Marion manages to keep Lady Bird in a private Catholic high school, which her daughter detests.

Living in Sacramento, which she calls “the Midwest of California”, has become intolerable for Lady Bird. She chafes at Marion’s plans for her to attend an in-state college and applies to New York colleges in secret. By Lady Bird’s reasoning, it should be easier to get in because of 9/11 (the story takes place in 2002-3). She seems relatively unconcerned about her lackluster grades and the fact that she will need financial aid.

Besides this, Gerwig includes smaller plot lines that will be recognizable to anyone who has been a teenage girl or known one. The dumping of a loyal best friend for a cool one, a couple of romances, school plays, a prank on a teacher…. Gerwig keeps a fairly upbeat tone throughout and stays clear of snark. Even the teacher who is pranked manages to see the joke.

Saoirse Ronan is nothing short of remarkable as Lady Bird. Although she does not physically resemble Gerwig, she has mastered Gerwig’s body language. It is easy to think of Lady Bird as a young version of Frances Ha (Gerwig’s 2012 film with Noah Baumbach). Ronan (now 23) also beautifully conveys Lady Bird’s mix of awkwardness and ambition. Her performance is so finely calibrated that it hardly seems she is acting. Metcalf is equally terrific as Marion. The two performances inform and ground one another.

Lucas Hedges (Manchester By The Sea) and Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name) make strong contributions as Lady Bird’s romantic interests. There’s also a wonderful performance from Beanie Feldstein (Neighbors 2: Sorority Uprising) as Lady Bird’s loyal best friend.

Greta Gerwig appears to have been blessed with a senior year that approximates a John Hughes movie. By the time you finish watching Lady Bird, you will be glad of this-and hoping a film about Christine’s college years is in the works.

Theme: Leaving High School

Related Posts: Film Appreciation: Say Anything…  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-appreciation-say-anything/

Leaving High School: List For Week Ending November 12, 2017  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/leaving-high-school-list-for-week-ending-november-12-2017/

Film Appreciation: Say Anything….

Film Appreciation: Say Anything….

Cameron Crowe’s 1989 directorial debut is an appealing film about a romance between two very different young people living in Seattle. One is a beautiful valedictorian, winner of a fellowship to study in England. The other is more interested in kickboxing than college. In the early scenes, newly graduated Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) tries toContinue Reading

Film Review: The Square

Film Review: The Square

In 2014, Swedish writer/director Ruben Östlund had a great success with Force Majeure. This film portrays a family whose blissful ski vacation is jeopardized by what appears to be a life-threatening avalanche. The husband bolts in panic, leaving his wife to fend for herself and their two children. Although the avalanche turns out to beContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: Thank You For Smoking

Film Appreciation: Thank You For Smoking

Jason Reitman’s debut film as a writer/director is savagely funny. Although Reitman simplifies Christopher Buckley’s novel in his adaptation, the plot is still gleefully subversive. The story focuses on super-confident Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), lobbyist for the Academy of Tobacco Studies. He continues to insist their studies have found no links between smoking and lungContinue Reading

Film Review: The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

Film Review: The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

The films of director Yorgos Lanthimos, sometimes called a member of the Greek Weird Wave, are very much an acquired taste. I had my own baptism by film watching his Dogtooth (2009) and warmed to him with The Lobster (2015). His latest, The Killing Of A Sacred Deer, is a gripping tale that is equalContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Film Appreciation: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

O Brother, Where Art Thou? is one whale of an entertaining film. It has an infectious musical score by T. Bone Burnett, terrific comic performances, and snappy dialogue. The story is a clever transposition of Homer’s Odyssey to the American south during the Great Depression. There is just one catch. Joel and Ethan Coen, whoContinue Reading

Inspired By Greek Literature: List For Week Ending October 29, 2017

Inspired By Greek Literature: List For Week Ending October 29, 2017

Our films this week are all inspired by Greek literature. Some films are direct adaptations (Zorba The Greek), while others simply transplant elements from the source material into another story (O Brother, Where Art Thou?). Either way, Greek literature produces fine cinema. This is not intended as an all-inclusive list. Reader suggestions are welcome. IfContinue Reading