Jackie

“I’m not allowed to play WoW this evening until I get this blog post done. Aaaand go!
*goes to YouTube and Candy Crush*

Oscar season is in full swing, and I’m kinda stoked to be somewhere that starts screening the potential nominees on their actual release date, and not an indeterminate number of weeks later. The contender: Natalie Portman for Best Actress in Jackie.

The film follows First Lady Jackie Kennedy in the immediate aftermath of her husband’s assasination. It was visually stunning and expertly acted emotional and interesting story, with a pacing that was slow as all get out. I’m sure I’ll talk more about Portman’s performance when she’s inevitably nominated (biopics are acting awards bait, especially when combining an affecting arc with specific accent and mannerisms), but that pace just messed with my enjoyment of the film.

I was talking with a friend afterwards, who asked if I recommended it. For him, and his love of costumes, I enthusiastically recommended it (with a warning about the slowness). I love the style and colors of the 60’s and that was worthwhile to watch. So that plus the acting, worth it. If you’re going for the story, maybe not.

Jackie – \m/ \m/ \m/”

Bad Santa 2

“Bad Santa makes me uncomfortable. I mean, we know I love crude humor, but Bad Santa’s lecherous side is a bit too much for me. It just creeps me out, and he’s so disgusting and I don’t understand how women in the film respond to him (I should point out that while his comments are not always welcome, he never takes any action that isn’t consensual. If he crossed that line, then we wouldn’t even be talking because I wouldn’t have gone). Still, I gotta have my offensive comedy, and a solid contrast to Moana earlier that day.

I rewatched the original Bad Santa earlier in the week, so the references were fresh. That was certainly key, since I think the throwbacks are what I most enjoyed. And Kathy Bates. She was cool to watch. The rest, I’ve basically forgotten and/or blocked out in the days since I’ve seen this (yeah, slacking on the blog posts again). I think here is where I’m supposta make some cheesy joke about this movie not being what I asked Santa for. Or maybe a naughty list joke. Ugh, moving on.

Bad Santa 2 – \m/ \m/ \n”

Moana

“I grew up during the so-called second golden age of Disney. We’ve talked about this. Many times. What I haven’t said much about was how much I loved the announcement of the next movie. There were always two things to be excited about: what well known story was I going to get to see, and what new world and culture were we gonna explore? Hearing about Moana brought back the excitement of the second point. Disney got it’s groove back with the classic story retold in Frozen. Now it’s time for a new adventure in a new place.

We travel with Moana to ancient Polynesia. This daughter of a Chieftan is on deck to rule her peaceful island home, but her heart is with the sea. She wants nothing more than to explore the ocean beyond the barrier of the reef. Her chance comes when a curse moves in on her home, threatening life on the island. She journeys out to find demigod Maui, in hopes of setting things right.

In short, it delivers on all the Disney magic we know and love. Beautiful animation, catchy music (thanks Lin-Manuel Miranda!), great cast, engaging story. In continuing recent trends, our “”princess”” has more in common with Mulan than Sleeping Beauty: a tough warrior girl who is brave enough to set out and fight rather than stay home and wait for Prince Charming (no princes in this movie, another step forward).

In case there was any doubt that Disney had it’s mojo back in the new millennium, it should be undeniable now

Moana – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”

Allied

“Fifteen years ago, this film would have won every award possible. It’s just that type of polished and sprawling film. Today, eh. It’s an outlier in every category. I guess the way to describe the reaction was impressed but unphased. Or at least that’s how it felt for me. Yeah it was well put together on all fronts, but missing some “”je ne sais quoi”” to make it special.

I saw this movie summed up as Mr and Mrs Smith meets Casablanca, which is pretty damn accurate. The plot’s pretty similar to Smith with a more serious and stylish feel. Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard are spies that are paired up together on a mission in Casablanca. They fall in love and get married, but it turns out she might not be who she claims. Oh and it’s directed by Robert Zemeckis, who’s pretty reliable, but I didn’t feel like he really pushed any boundaries. The story was also a bit too predictable, not as twisty as it thought it was.

It was a fine and enjoyable film, but it will rightly be overshadowed as Oscar season really starts to pick up. This is more of an appetizer, especially given its wide release. Something to get you going while you wait for the smaller releases to expand.

Allied – \m/ \m/ \m/”

Lion

“Not even a week after the screening of Nocturnal Animals with Tom Ford, I get a chance for another post film Q&A. This time, Lion with Dev Patel. Or at least it was initially just Dev. By the time it came around, they added actor Sunny Pawar and film subject Saroo Brierley. But first we talk about the movie before we talk about the post-movie.

This film is basically split in half. In the first half, five year old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) accidentally ends up on a train for three days in India, and gets lost thousands of kilometers from home. He doesn’t speak the language of the region, nor does he have any idea where his home is. We follow him until he’s eventually rescued from the streets and adopted by an Australian family (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham) and taken to their home. The second half picks up with adult Saroo (Dev Patel), now happily living in Australia, but still haunted by his past knowing that he may still have family out there that don’t know what happened to him 25 years ago. He devotes all his energy to trying to find them, the tiny slum in the haystack that is India.

The story is one of the most moving to be portrayed on screen this year. The moderator for the Q&A joked that they left the credits running in the dark before starting in order to give everyone time to wipe their tears. I chatted with someone while waiting in line to get our parking validated and she too expressed so much emotion. And it’s not just one aspect of the story. The whole thing is so layered with some really solid themes. The lost child, adoption from mulitple perspectives, the search for your past, reconciling two distinct pieces of your life, just so much going on, all beautifully put together.

After the film, most of the questions actually went to Saroo, in hopes of filling in some of the blanks and getting more of the story. That was really cool. I don’t think I’ve ever had that opportunity to hear in person from someone who a film was about. And of course there were questions aimed at the two actors there, especially with little Sunny stealing the show as he did in the film.

When it was over, I expected the guests to be quickly ushered out as they typically are, but they paused momentarily as crowd rushed up. Well of course I was gonna run up there too. I pulled out my ticket and a sharpie and set my phone camera to face the right way and politely pushed toward Dev. His handlers were trying to usher him along, but he was trying to give back where he could. I was able to get my ticket and pen in front of him, and as he signed, I held up my phone “”Quick selfie?”” Framed it perfectly, hit the button, thanked him, and claimed my ticket as I saw him quickly exit. Then I looked at my phone. Turned out, I didn’t actually hit the button. NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! I know I’m bad at selfies, but I’m still not sure what went wrong because an equal mix of bad and good luck. At least I have pix of the panel, even if I don’t have a shiny new FB profile pic.

Lion – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”