Tag Archives: bionic


19 Dec
Director Pablo Larrain has worked on political films before, like 2012's 'No,' about the 1988 Chilean Pinochet referendum

Director Pablo Larrain has worked on political films before, like 2012’s ‘No,’ about the 1988 Chilean Pinochet referendum

Adversity is a great yardstick for character. Filmmakers in on this nugget of wisdom understand that the more compelling route to showcasing a historic icon is in the moments or incidents that come to define them, not the rote, cradle-to-the-grave biopic format. Selma did that for Martin Luther King (2014) as did Loving — albeit on a much smaller scale. Now we have Jackie, an up close and intimate inside look at the famous first lady in the immediate aftermath of her husband’s assassination.

The entire mood of Pablo Larraín’s film bears a thick, dour air atop a quiet, yet deep-rooted resolve. It’s an impressively bold attempt at such a revered presidency with much of the project’s success hanging on Natalie Portman’s fully-immersed and utterly mesmerizing portrait of the grieving first widow. Add to that Mica Levi’s beguiling score that palpably embosses the emotional undercurrent of every scene — if you’re unfamiliar with the composer, she brought a similarly aural pulse to Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin (2013) and with Jackie will surely become a hotly sought resource.

The film begins at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport, Mass. with an unnamed journalist (Billy Crudup, ostensibly based on Life magazine’s Theodore White who interviewed Jackie around that time). He arrives to get the scoop on the widow’s sense of loss. “There’s the truth that people believe,” Jackie tells him “and there’s what I know.” Thus setting the table for the back and forth parry, which while polite, often tilts towards the adversarial, though it does bear strokes of cathartic relief for Portman’s Ms. Kennedy. Throughout the interview the media savvy Jackie holds the reins tight as well as her inner turmoil. “You want me to describe the sound the bullet made when it collided with my husband’s skull?” she bluntly injects confronting the inevitable before the journalist can wind his way around to the question. From the journalist’s stunned face we then rewind to Dallas to that fateful day of Nov. 22, 1963. Continue reading


14 Jun

‘The Signal’: Neo experience for nerd trio in derivative but mysterious sci-fi offering


Old bait-and-switch tactics, some solid acting and impressive technical craftsmanship – especially on a $3 million budget – define William Eubank’s sophomore effort. The eerie mystery-cum-sci-fi thriller “The Signal” begins promisingly too, but great assets don’t always play together well, and in this case the fantastic foreplay and moodiness just can’t carry through to the climax.

061314i The SignalThe hook has three computer nerds on a cross-country trip to take the lone female, Hayley (Olivia Cooke of “Bates Hotel”) to a California tech school. One of the guys, Nic (Brenton Thwaites, most recently in “Maleficent”) is her beau and on crutches, the result of some sort of poorly explained disease or condition. The relationship is strained, not only because of looming long distance and physical barriers but because Hayley is defecting from MIT, where Nic and Jonah (Beau Knapp) remain. The two lads are also engaged in a hacking war with an online entity known as Nomad. Nomad’s bona fide; he can hack into a security cam and send the trio a pic of their dusty station wagon as it heads through the plains, or take over one of their laptops. Finally, the two get a bead on Nomad somewhere in Nevada and they decide to take a detour. It’s also where the boldness of “The Signal” starts to fade.  Continue reading