Fox Searchlight Pictures
Rated R for profanity and brief graphic violence
Portman Channels Jackie Kennedy In Perceptive Portrait Of Iconic First Lady
How did Jackie Kennedy feel in the wake of her husband’s assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963? That is the question explored in Jackie, a picture which paints a perceptive portrait of Camelot’s First Lady by speculating about her mental state during the days immediately following the assassination of JFK (Caspar Phillipson). In that regard, this behind-the-scenes biopic is rather reminiscent of The Queen (2006) which presumed to provide a fly-on-the-wall’s perspective of the goings-on inside Buckingham Palace after the untimely death of Princess Diana.
Directed by Pablo Larrain (Neruda), Jackie stars Academy Award winner Natalie Portman (for Black Swan) in the title role. Portman is likely to garner another Oscar nomination for her very convincing impersonation of the readily-recognizable legend. For, she manages to replicate certain expected staples of the Jackie Kennedy iconography, such as the whispery voice and the pillbox hat, while simultaneously plumbing the depths of her complicated soul.
Consequently, we get a sense of the familiar public figure’s internal angst in a variety of situations, such as when she had to break the news of their father’s death to Caroline (Sunnie Pelant) and John-John (Aiden and Brody Weinberg). Or when she was being given the bum’s rush out of the White House by incoming Lady Bird Johnson (Beth Grant), who was already thinking about replacing the drapes before JFK had been buried.
Fortunately, Jackie did have a shoulder to cry on in her hour of need. No, it was not brother-in-law Bobby (Peter Sarsgaard) who thought of her as a “silly, little debutante,” but the Catholic priest (John Hurt) who served as her confidant and confessor. He helped Jackie summon up the strength and courage to accompany her husband’s casket, by foot, in the funeral procession down Pennsylvania Avenue, despite fears of a copycat assassin.
Her faith faltering, Jackie freely admitted that, “I think God is cruel.” She even wondered aloud whether she might have been better off marrying “an ordinary, lazy, ugly man.” And while Jackie desperately grasps at straws to make sense of her unspeakable nightmare, the most comforting words her supportive cleric can find are, “There are no answers in man’s search for meaning.”
A bittersweet docudrama effectively echoing the lyrics from the classic show tune Jackie identified as JFK’s favorite, a week after his passing: “Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.”
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 99 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening December 16, 2016
Collateral Beauty (PG-13 for mature themes and brief profanity) Introspective character portrait starring Will Smith as a Madison Avenue executive who writes letters to Love, Time and Death after withdrawing from the world in the wake of a personal tragedy. A-list ensemble includes Academy Award winners Helen Mirren and Kate Winslet, Oscar nominees Edward Norton and Keira Knightley, as well as Michael Pena and Naomie Harris.
Fences (PG-13 for profanity, mature themes and sexual references) Denzel Washington and Viola Davis co-star in this screen adaptation of August Wilson’s Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning play chronicling the struggles of an African-American family living in Pittsburgh in the ’50s. With Mykelti Williamson, Jovan Adepo, Stephen Henderson and Russell Hornsby.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (PG-13 for violence and extended action sequences) Intergalactic epic revolving around a rebel soldier (Felicity Jones) recruited to lead a band of unlikely heroes on a mission to steal the design for the Empire’s weapon of mass destruction. Featuring Forest Whitaker, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, Jiang Wen, Alan Tudyk and Donnie Yen.
Barry (Unrated) Devon Terrell plays Barack Obama in this biopic about the future President’s stint as a student at Columbia University during the early ’80s. With Ashley Judd, Jenna Elfman and Famke Janssen.
The Grace Of Jake (Unrated) Musical dramedy about a just-paroled convict (Jake La Botz) who steals a car and drives from California to Arkansas in search of the father (Michael Beck) he never knew. With Jordin Sparks, Lew Temple and Ravi Kapoor.
A Kind Of Murder (PG-13 for profanity and violence) Psychological thriller, set in New York in the ’60s, about a miserably-married architect (Patrick Wilson) who becomes the prime suspect when his wife (Jessica Biel) dies under mysterious circumstances. With Eddie Marsan, Vincent Kartheiser and Haley Bennett.
Neruda (R for profanity, sexuality and nudity) Chilean docudrama recounting the hunt in the late ’40s for Pablo Neruda (Luis Gnecco) following the Nobel Prize-winning poet-turned-fugitive’s conversion to Communism. With Gael Garcia Bernal, Alfredo Castro and Mercedes Moran. (In Spanish and French with subtitles)
Rooted In Peace (Unrated) Eco-documentary challenging Americans to proactively find ways to live in harmony with the environment and with other countries. Featuring commentary by Deepak Chopra, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the late Pete Seeger.
Solace (R for sexuality, nudity, profanity, bloody images and pervasive profanity) Crime thriller about a psychic (Anthony Hopkins) who joins forces with an FBI agent (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in the hunt for a serial killer (Colin Farrell). With Abbie Cornish, Matt Gerald and Marley Shelton.
New York Film Critics Online members held their annual awards meeting on December 11, 2016, at the Furman Gallery inside Lincoln Center.
The following awards for films that opened in 2016 were voted:
Picture – Moonlight
Director – Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Actor – Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea
Actress – Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Supporting Actor – Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Supporting Actress – Viola Davis, Fences
Screenplay – Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Breakthrough Performer – Ruth Negga, Loving
Debut Director – Robert Eggers, The Witch
Ensemble Cast – Moonlight
Documentary – 13th
Foreign Language – The Handmaiden
Animated – Kubo And The Two Strings
Cinematography – James Laxton, Moonlight
Use of Music – Justin Hurwitz (composer), La La Land
Top 12 Films
Free State Of Jones (STX Entertainment)
Hell Or High Water (CBS Films)
I, Daniel Blake (IFC Films)
Jackie (Fox Searchlight)
La La Land (Lionsgate)
Loving (Focus Features)
Manchester By The Sea (Amazon/Roadside Attractions)
O.J.: Made In America (ESPN)
Toni Erdmann (Sony Pictures Classics)