“Jackie” (2016)

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Rating: R:15 / Genre: Biopic, Drama / Directed By: Pablo Larraín / Written By: Noah Oppenheim / Released: December 2nd, 2016  / Runtime: 95 minutes / Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Summary:

After her husband’s assassination, Jackie Kennedy’s (Natalie Portman) world is completely shattered. Traumatized and reeling with grief, over the course of the next week she must confront the unimaginable: consoling their two young children, vacating the home she painstakingly restored, and planning her husband’s funeral. Jackie quickly realizes that the next seven days will determine how history will define her husband’s legacy – and how she herself will be remembered.

Review: 

Natalie Portman shines here in one of her best roles to date. The heartbreak of losing her husband and having to deal with it in such a public way is portrayed in both subtle and powerful way through the film, particularly in those moments when she says nothing at all. She is Jackie Kennedy. She embodied her flawlessly.

The plot is a bit of a slow burner I felt but this adds to the emotional situation more as the story progresses. The film mixes real footage in flawlessly. The costume designers should get a pat on the back for their work on this film.

One of the better films to come out of 2016, I recommend this highly.

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“A Quiet Place” (2018)

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Rating: PG-13 / Genre: Horror, Thriller, Mystery / Starring: Emily Blunt,  / Directed By: John Krasinski / Written By: Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, John Krasinski / Released: April 6th, 2018 / Runtime: 90 minutes / Studio: Paramount Pictures

Summary:

A family of four must navigate their lives in silence after mysterious creatures that hunt by sound threaten their survival. If they hear you, they hunt you.

Review:

I like the originality of this film. It was certainly very tense and always left you fearing what was around the corner. As a thriller, it did its job right. I was very misleaded by the trailer I think as to what the plot was really revolving around as much of what happened in the trailer happened early on in the film and didn’t last as long. In one sense I was glad, in another it left me confused and wishing I’d gone into the film without previewing anything. Which leads me to advise never watch the trailer, folks! Just go in, sit back, and enjoy the ride.

What I will say, is the plot demands much suspension of belief. And occasionally makes up its own rules as it goes along. It’s not inconsistent as such but…I was confused and rethinking what had happened a few times to get my head around the present threatening situation. There was no real back story offered either which I felt was interesting. We are simply thrown in the havoc and go along with this one family. There is never much mention of any other civilisation outside of this family unit, bar one or two encounters. In a sense it adds to the isolation, I guess.

Emily Blunt is brilliant in her leading role. I have yet to see a film where she disappoints. She’s a wonderful actress, certainly one of the best out there at the moment in my opinion.

I would recommend this film.

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“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (2018)

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Rating: 15s / Genre: Crime, Drama / Starring: Melissa McCarthy, ? / Directed By: Marielle Heller / Written By: Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty / Released: October 19th, 2018 / Runtime: 107 minutes / Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Summary:

Celebrity biographer Lee Israel makes her living profiling the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estee Lauder and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. When Lee is no longer able to get published because she has fallen out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception, abetted by her loyal friend Jack.

Review:

It’s unusual to see Melissa McCarthy in a serious role for a change. She proves here she can more than do both. Her character develops a lot over the course of the film and has many relatable and interesting qualities that make this film stand out among others that came out this year.

The plot is something different which is always good of course. It’s a bit of a slow burner so I think it’s important to bare in mind if you stick with it you will be rewarded.

Keeping this short and sweet.

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“Christopher Robin” (2018)

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Rating: G / Genre: Comedy, Children’s / Starring: Ewan McGregor / Directed By: Marc Foster / Written By: Alex Ross Perry / Released: August 3rd, 2018 / Runtime: 103 minutes / Studio: Walt Disney Studios

Summary:

Christopher Robin — now a family man living in London — receives a surprise visit from his old childhood pal, Winnie-the-Pooh. With Christopher’s help, Pooh embarks on a journey to find his friends — Tigger, Eeyore, Owl, Piglet, Rabbit, Kanga and Roo. Once reunited, the lovable bear and the gang travel to the big city to help Christopher rediscover the joy of life.

Review:

I kept getting this film mixed up with “Goodbye Christopher Robin” starring Donal Gleeson and Margot Robbie, which I previously posted. For a long time, I thought they were the same film. After having seen both of them now however I can tell you faithfully they are certainly not the same film. Unlike the aforementioned, this film offers a far more whimsical adventure with the lovable characters of the 100 Acre Wood.

I enjoyed it more for the nostalgia I think than the film’s story alone. It had its entertaining and heart-warming moments, sure, but not to keep comparing, “Goodbye Christopher Robin” I felt was a much more superior narrative. A lot of it requires suspension of belief. Not just where the notion of cuddly toys coming to life is concerned, but the overall plot. His young daughter hopping on a train across the country with said toys, for one thing.

The special effects are worth noting though. Very seamless, very impressive.

Ewan McGregor provides a calming sensible lead, similar to that of his role in Tim Burton’s “Big Fish”, albeit less fanciful. Like so many Disney parents before him, he has let work take over from his life with his family and doesn’t pay attention to the important things in life. According to Disney, becoming an adult means forgoing all fun, creativeness and imagination. Enter Winnie The Pooh and friends to show him the light and error of his ways.

I wasn’t as enthralled as I was hoping to be but I still enjoyed it nonetheless.

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“First Reformed” (2018)

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Rating: 15 / Genre: Drama / Starring: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried / Directed By: Paul Schrader / Written By: Paul Shrader / Released: May 18th, 2018 / Runtime: 108 minutes / Studio: A24

Summary:

The pastor of a small church in upstate New York spirals out of control after a soul-shaking encounter with an unstable environmental activist and his pregnant wife.

Review:

A bit of a slower burner I felt but when it does catch fire and get going, you’ll be glad to have stuck with it.

Ethan Hawke is great in the leading role, another underappreciated performance I think in this year’s award ceremonies. He deserved some recognition. The whole film deserved more recognition than it got, really.

Amanda Seyfried is also a wonderful edition to the film, contrasting Ethan Hawke’s character’s growing loss of faith with her ever-strong conviction in the good in the world.

The film is fraught with metaphors, many religious but many are also prominent to that of everyday life decisions and thoughts. The final scene is ambiguous but poignant in its own right no matter which perspective you choose to go with.

Definitely a film to add to your list if you haven’t already.

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“First Man” (2018)

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Rating: PG-13 / Genre: Drama / Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Ciarán Hinds / Directed By: Damien Chazelle / Written By: Josh Singer / Released: October 12th, 2018 / Runtime: 138 minutes / Studio: Universal Pictures

Summary:

On the heels of their six-time Academy Award®-winning smash, La La Land, Oscar®-winning director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling reteam for Universal Pictures’ First Man, the riveting story of NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the years 1961-1969. A visceral, first-person account, based on the book by James R. Hansen, the movie will explore the sacrifices and the cost—on Armstrong and on the nation—of one of the most dangerous missions in history.

Review:

Here we have a thoroughly enthralling film with beautiful shots and a great cast.

Ryan Gosling proves once again his talents as he takes centre stage starring as Neil Armstrong. His portrayal is compelling as heart-breaking events in his life unfold amidst the preparation for the infamous finale.

The use of first-person perspective in varying moments give this exploration to space an original and thrilling difference from previous space movies that have come before. As an audience we are well and truly thrown into the chaos, excitement, tension, scariness, adventure of going to the moon. – All the more powerful on the big screen.

I’m surprised this isn’t among the Best Picture nominations. It seems a more likely candidate that some of the lucky few this year.

A film that will catapult you into a exhilarating exploit you don’t want to miss.

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“Juliet, Naked” (2018)

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Rating: 12s / Genre: Comedy / Starring: Ethan Hawke, , Chris O’Dowd / Directed By: Jesse Peretz / Written By: Tamara Jenkins, Jim Taylor, Evgenia Peretz, Phil Alden Robinson / Released: August 17th 2018 / Runtime: 98 minutes / Studio: Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions

Summary:

Annie (Rose Byrne) is stuck in a long-term relationship with Duncan (Chris O’Dowd) – an obsessive fan of obscure rocker Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke). When the acoustic demo of Tucker’s hit record from 25 years ago surfaces, its release leads to a life-changing encounter with the elusive rocker himself. Based on the novel by Nick Hornby, Juliet, Naked is a comic account of life’s second chances.

Review:

A little “You’ve Got Mail” meets “Almost Famous”…This is a lovely little comedy with a sweet story and vibrant characters to make you smile. Devoid of any major confrontation this makes it a surprisingly enjoyable watch. Or not so surprising, depending what you expect from it going in.

Ethan Hawke and Rose Byrne light up the screen bringing us chuckles and a warmth in our hearts. Their budding friendship happens upon a surprisingly sweet beginning and flourishes through the movie. Chris O’Dowd also has his moments too.

The story itself appears very light-hearted and it is for the most part but then takes a heart-felt, slightly darker dare we say, turn and it’s at that moment I felt glad to have watched it. It was touch and go at the beginning but if you give it a chance and stick with it, it’s a great movie to unwind with after a long day.

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