Skip to main content

Review: Jackie

Unlike traditional biopics, 'Jackie' is structured like a fever dream where the highs and lows are her time as First Lady are stacked unevenly, spilling into each other in the blink of an eye. Natalie Portman embodies the traumatic experience of living through one of life's most unimaginable horrors but finds she must still perform for the American people and press, who are dissecting her every move, looking for a flaw. Pablo Larraín, writer Noah Oppenheim, and Portman take Jackie, known for her extraordinary dignity and poise, and break her down psychologically. Revealing the mother simultaneously trying to console her children and a nation in the days following Kennedy's assassination in Dallas, Texas.

She must also massage the egos of Lyndon B. Johnson (John Carroll Lynch), eager to start his own legacy, and Robert (Peter Sarsgaard), who frets over the legacy of his departed brother. Returning President Kennedy's body to the White House, Jackie knocks on the window to ask the driver a question. "Do you know who James Garfield was? Do you know who William McKinley was?" The driver responds no both times. "How about Abraham Lincoln?" He nods enthusiastically, "he won the Civil War."

Whatever the impression was of Jackie Kennedy as First Lady, she was not just arranging furniture in the White House, she was instrumental in preserving the memory of John F. Kennedy. She was much more than a widow; she became the gatekeeper to the legacy of not only what Kennedy did, but what he could've done. This sentiment is best articulated in a series of interviews with a writer (Billy Crudup), who presses the former First Lady, only to find she is not the frightened doe that so many make her out to be. Larrain's film would make a perfect bookend with Steven Spielberg's 'Lincoln'. Few films acknowledge that biopics only exist because of the aura we build around mere mortals. 'Jackie' is one of them.


Popular posts from this blog

Review: Anomalisa

Weird is rarely used as a good quality in film criticism, but few words so completely describe Charlie Kaufman’s work as weird does. All of his films are a window into his very particular worldview, and that p.o.v. is certainly unlike anything seen in pop culture. For that reason, Anomalisa became an entry on many most anticipated lists for 2015. That Kaufman chose stop-motion to tell this story made the picture an event. So it came as a disappointment when the film was one of the year’s more mundane efforts.

Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind have an energy and heart at the center that is not present here. Previous collaborators like Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry were able to temper the overwhelming negativity Charlie Kaufman occasionally falls prey to, but, this time, the writer doesn’t have a director to rein things in. In all of his efforts to create an experience that is both familiar and alienating, Kaufman may have accidentally created something host…

Hulk vs. The Incredible Hulk vs. The Avengers

There are two movies about the Hulk and one that features the green monster as a major player. One was made in 2003 by an auteur, starring a little-known Aussie. Five years later The Incredible Hulk came out to the same tepid reaction as Ang Lee's Hulk did. This weekend, The Avengers made the Hulk as popular as he has been in a long time. So it comes down to this: Hulk vs. Hulk vs. Hulk. Who will smash whom?

Round One: Acting
Edward Norton outshines Eric Bana as the dual persona of the meek Bruce Banner and the rage-induced Hulk. Eric Bana was given little to do but run and fight and often the audience was just waiting for him to transform. With the Incredible Hulk, Norton's Banner is fully fleshed-out and we are given a reason to care about him. Being allowed to go a little dark with Banner's scenes questioning what is left of his life provided emotional resonance to the character that Hulk lacked. Yet even with the capable performance that Norton gives there was something …

The Dream Is Real

For my money there is nothing cooler than the idea of a city folding in on itself.