I was really excited about the prospect of Natalie working on a French film, particularly one directed by Rebecca Zlotowski whose Grand Central is fantastic. Unfortunately, this is one of my least favourite Natalie films. The story has a strong connection to the dead, but its the film that is D.O.A. It certainly looks handsome, and the performances (particularly Natalie and Emmanual Salinger) are solid at the very least.
A couple months back I finally caught Natalie Portman’s feature directorial (and writing) debut, A Tale of Love and Darkness. The fact that it’s taken me this long to post anything says that a) I’ve been busy and b) I don’t have much to say.
It’s a sincere and accomplished film that, to me at least, didn’t feel like it came from a first-time filmmaker. But like Natalie’s character, it feels somewhat removed and distant. I felt like an observer the whole time, never drawn into the story or characters.
I came to Song to Song from a bit of a strange place. I adore a lot of Terrence Malick’s earlier films – sure, they will often frustrate, but they are also capable of moments of beauty that transcend the form.
But Malick’s last two films, To the Wonder and Knight of Cups (with Natalie), left me mostly frustrated and cold. What used to feel poetic now felt unfocused and forced. What used to leave a deep impression now felt shallow.
Song to Song doesn’t quite get back to making me feel how I did about his earlier work, but there are moments that reminded me of those films. Don’t get me wrong, I still wouldn’t recommend this film to anyone. It’s going to be maddening for anyone looking for a narrative to hold onto. But in the music, tragedy and striking images, there was enough for me to remain engaged throughout. Read More
I finally had the opportunity to see Jackie and thought I’d quickly weigh in with some thoughts.
I’m not a big fan of biopics in general but was optimistic after hearing that Jackie would be taking an unconventional approach. The film definitely does that, with a structure that hops forward and back along the film’s timeline.
Personally, there were few instances where this approach elevated the material for me. The ending moments, cutting to different scenes while building on an emotional state, are sublime but I mainly found the experience to be quite passive. I never really felt the stakes of what Jackie wanted to achieve.
After months waiting, Jackie opened in Spain the last Friday, and finally I had the chance to see it. After all this time, and all the good reviews, I was afraid that the film might not fulfilled my expectations… nothing further of reality.
It´s a GREAT film. It´s probably the more accessible and conventional Larrain´s film to date, but still it´s one of the most interesting biopics that have been made in recent years on an American figure… precisely because there is not a typical biopic.
Watching the film, I understand perfectly why it had so weak commercial success in the US: this is not a detailed story of what happened those sad days on November, it´s a deep study of a character for the four days more stressful and critical of her life. Yes, I say well the word “character” because, as Larraín said in one of the many interviews for the promotion of the film, this is a “fiction told from the intimacy of the private”. We’ll never know for sure what Jackie really was, but the film shows us a person full of nuances, contradictory, selfish, self-centered, but also intelligent, determined and emotional, which helped build, almost without intending, the legend of her husband.
There are also another reason why the movie is not conventional: who goes to a movie theater to see this waiting learn the ins and outs of all that happened these critical days for American history, will feel probably disappointed. the film part of the premise that everyone knows the story, and yes, gives very accurate brushstrokes here and there of what happened behind the scenes … but this is about Jackie and her vital experience during these days, and the film introduces you fully in her personal experience in those hard times.
And here is where Natalie comes into scene: simply she’s superb. the best perfomance of her career, certainly. She cries, laughs, despairs, she confesses in front of the camera. An amalgam of emotions that she shows perfectly in every scene. All of them filmed a few inches of her face by Larrain, always attentive to each gesture and each word.
I’ll admit that I was not excited about Jackie when the project was first announced back in 2012 (was it really that long ago?). I was picturing a forgettable, paint by numbers biopic, and didn’t feel like Natalie looked the part of Jacqueline Kennedy. But when it was announced that Darren Aronofsky was involved in the production and Pablo Larraín was directing, I became more hopeful that Jackie could be something special. After the all the glowing reviews started pouring in earlier this year, I was impatient to see the finished film. Now that I have, I don’t feel like there’s much to say that hasn’t already been said. The hype is real, guys.
The film directed by Pablo Larraín and starring Natalie continues to generate news every week. Here are a few as Tidbits.
-First, a photo of “Jackie team”, taken during the screening of the movie for BAFTA members, a few days ago:
— Christian Blauvelt (@ctblauvelt) October 25, 2016
After Venice and Toronto, New York is the third major festival where the movie has been premiered … and it has caused a third wave of reactions as positive as before
JACKIE really is just extraordinary. Natalie Portman's performance is one of the all-timers already.
— Kate Erbland (@katerbland) October 14, 2016
— Tomris Laffly (@TomiLaffly) October 13, 2016
JACKIE is an emotionally charged, artful piece of work from Pablo Larrain with an unforgettable performance from Natalie Portman. Wow! #NYFF
— Matt Neglia (@NextBestPicture) October 13, 2016
Jackie, after passing through Venice and Toronto, continues to receive rave reviews (it has 95/100 on Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes right now). Many specialized media include the film as one of the best seen in the TIFF, and Natalie´s perfomance as one of the best seen in the festival:
-In another vein, here we have another interesting video interview with Natalie and Pablo Larraín to Deadline, in which they talk about the challenges of the film in general and especially playing Jackie:
-And finally, a new batch of rave, interesting reviews:
Hey everyone. It’s been a while since I’ve written for this site. I attended both Jackie and Planetarium at the Toronto International Film Festival, and I am going to review both of these releases. First, here’s Jackie!
When Billy Crudup’s journalist character asks Jackie Onassis what it sounded like when the bullet went through her late husband’s head, you know you’re getting a grizzly depiction of how the John F. Kennedy assassination went down. Jackie is co-produced by Darren Aronofsky, who was originally slated to direct this film and have his ex parter Rachel Weisz star as the titular former First Lady. Aronofsky and Weisz abandoned their posts, but the former stayed with the project while Chilean director Pablo Larrain got put in charge. Aronofsky’s dismal filmmaking definitely can be felt here, as Larrain’s perception of the tragic event is almost unsettlingly real. Natalie Portman, also an Aronofsky affiliate, was selected for the main role, and the rest is history.
Just celebrated the premiere of Jackie in Toronto, and a new wave of amazing reactions is taking place:
— erickohn (@erickohn) September 12, 2016
Natalie Portman gets standing o for her performance in Jackie, which is Oscar-worthy, if it comes out this year. Distribs are huddling now.
— Anne Thompson (@akstanwyck) September 12, 2016
Pablo Larrain brings an unsettling, unique vision to JACKIE. Natalie Portman is haunting. The score is chilling. It's incredible. #TIFF16
— Adri (@adrifloridia) September 12, 2016
If yesterday was the “Jackie day” in Venice, today Natalie premieres Planetarium at the festival, out of competition.
-First of all, The Playlist has some beautifuls photos and two movie clips in the article/review on the film. In them we can see the acting work of Natalie, Lily-Rose and Emmanuel Salinger, as well as the wonderful production design.
-Speaking of reviews, unfortunately critical reception has not been as good as Jackie. Very lukewarm reviews at best, with some other more positive (The Guardian, for example):
Throughout the day we will see more Natalie appearances … stay tuned.
Finally here we have the first clip of the film…
In addition, the first written reviews are emerging slowly, and follow the same vein as the first twitter reactions: a great movie and, above all, an excellent Natalie perfomance:
Screendaily: Natalie Portman excels in her most demanding and most complex performance to date as First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, shown living through the immediate aftermath of her husband’s assassination in 1963.
The first press screening of Jackie finished half an hour ago … and the first reactions could not be better:
— Kaleem Aftab (@aftabamon) September 7, 2016
— Cathy Brennan (@TownTattle) September 7, 2016
— Filmatique (@Filmatique) September 7, 2016
— Filmatique (@Filmatique) September 7, 2016
Soon we will see the first written reviews, but this look really good 🙂
This has been an intense week in terms of news and public appearances in Natland… but here are a few more, as Tidbits 🙂
Earlier this week, new reviews of the film came out, and although it continued the lukewarm tone of last year, recent days have appeared some good ones that have made the movie percentage has risen in sites like Metacritic and Rotten. Here are some of the most positives:
-The New York Times:
Since Dazza recently gave his opinion of the movie, and taking advantage of the fact that the film was finally released this weekend in my country, I will dare to give my humble opinion about the film 🙂
The truth is that it is easy to criticize this film: it has a slow pace, almost no action in ninety percent of the movie, and the story is nothing new (the umpteenth western siege, where the protagonists expect the arrival of the ” bad guys “to massacre them) ….
… But nevertheless, it has entertained me. It is not a perfect film, far from it. The story lacks verve, and numerous production problems are noticed, especially in the inclusion of some flashbacks … and the lack of thrust villain (embodied however with conviction by Ewan McGregor). Clearly they had to wring the brain so that the absence is not noticed (the actor could not join the shooting until the very end of it); although Gavin O’Connor takes some pretty good decisions to hide this fact (his appearances in flashbacks are quite good, and the fact resolve the final siege from the point of view of Jane, Dan and Bill, inside the house it is very smart … but unfortunately that does lose showmanship to the scene.
Actually, this movie is an intimate drama, wrapped in the makings of a western. A drama about loss, the value of the strength and the courage to stand up to adversity. Jane’s character is a woman dragged by the events of her life, who has the chance to finally stand up and face everything to protect her family. A woman who believed losing the man she loves, found another honest man who had the courage to protect her, and that after years of false comfort, is doomed to face the demons of her past …. all with the help of the man who loved, lost and broken by war, and finally will have the opportunity to redeem himself next to her.
As you know, I’ve just arrived back in Berlin, and during the mind-numbing flight over I had the opportunity to finally catch Jane Got A Gun. Expectations were low. The troubled production didn’t phase me too much, as sometimes magic can be found by flying by the seat of your pants, but the shrugging reviews certainly didn’t have me expecting the next Heat.
On the positive side, it’s pretty entertaining and I quite enjoyed seeing Natalie play something of a bad ass. There’s still plenty of desperation in the performance, like one of the better flashback scenes, but Jane is one tough cookie.
Knight of Cups is out in the world, no doubt confounding most audiences, but those who can sync with Malick’s vision are really responding well as you’ll see from a couple rapturous reviews below.
– First up is a new featurette with behind the scenes footage and interviews.
– Next up is a detailed write up of an actor who had no idea what he was getting into. It’s a really fun read and well worth checking out.
“We’re all standing there and Malick hands out these pieces of paper to all of us,” Lennon said. “And the one he gave me said, ‘There’s no such thing as a fireproof wall.’ And I ask, ‘Is this something I’m supposed to say in the scene?’ and he said, ‘I don’t know.’”
– Now two reviews, both of which couldn’t be more positive. The New Yorker review is deep and dense while SFGate doesn’t think many films will be able to match it this year. Bare in mind the film only has an overall score of 47% on Rotten Tomatoes, so again, this is a film made for the few, not the many.
Here is an excerpt from each review.
These images, brilliant and radiant with a love of light, rapturous with a love of motion, bring to the cinema a big and great idea: the overcoming of the distinction between subject and object, between recording and imagination.
Terrence Malick is inventing a new kind of cinema, one that calls for new language to describe it. This is a cinema of ecstasy, of the spirit, of witnessing the beauty in all things. As a story, his new film, “Knight of Cups,” is instantly forgettable, and that’s assuming you can find a story to follow. But the experience of the film is about something else, about creating a feeling of transcendence and joy through visual means. It’s remarkable.
Looks like it’s going to be a big week for Knight of Cups news, leading up to the (tiny) opening on Friday. It has been a loooong wait to see the film and having seen it last year, it is probably not going to be worth the wait unless you are one of the few in-tune with the very personal and unique presentation that Malick is working with.
– Let’s start with a new video interview from One Big Soul.
– Next up is a new teaser trailer that is really great. The music and the visuals go together beautifully.
– Then we have a couple positive reviews.
The Village Voice calls it sumptuous.
You don’t reason your way through a film like this; you let it wash over you, pull you this way and that.
Or you reject it. Many will run screaming from Knight of Cups, even as some of us are enraptured. At times, Malick almost seems to welcome this polarized response.