Let the games begin…….

Ladies and gents, it’s a race to the finish–the time when studios enter their films into the Oscar race just in the nick of time, ahead of the 12/31 the deadline.

Many good movies open in December. The Oscar talk has been buzzing around them for so long that I thought that they had already opened, and that I missed them.

Do studios wait to see the competition before they decide whether to release their movies in December, versus releasing them the following year? Sure seems like it.

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Well, la de da

The most buzzed-about movies? There’s Lala Land, a musical starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Surely Emma will be a best actress contender, or so I have heard–ad nauseum. It opens December 9th. Then there’s Denzel Washington making his directorial debut with Fences. Well, he will be nominated for best actor, if you ask anyone in the know. It opens December 24th. And today is the opening of Jackie, which showcases guess what? That’s right, an Oscar-worthy performance. This one isf in the person of Natalie Portman. This week I review two movie reviews of Jackie from movie sites that are contenders for the weirdest-name category.

JACKIE

Plot: Jackie is based on an interview of Jackie Kennedy one week after JFK was assassinated, which had an unusual (and hopefully rare) stipulation:  Jackie had control of the content before it was published. In other words, whatever she wanted left out was left out. So parts of the interview have never been seen. This movie is a re-imagining of the unknown parts. The director, Pablo Larraine, is Chilean.

Compuserve.com

Review by Harvey Karten

Spoilers skimmable? No. Not even a pro can avoid them. The review starts out with good descriptions and then, just when it seems safe, it bites you in the butt.

Bottom line: Grade B. It’s not bad. It “springs to life at moments.” Portman’s performance is Oscar-worthy, says Karten. She’s got the voice down, and her facial expressions tell you what Jackie is feeling.

Compuserve.com? Sounds like the site should sell computers or find another name.

jackie-vs-actress
Separated at birth?

Punch, Drunk  Critics

Review by Travis Hopson

Spoilers skimmable: Yes. Good job, Mr. Hopson!

Bottom line: it’s great–” another political masterpiece by Lorrain (the director).”

Cool: Hopson points out that this biopic doesn’t go over what we already know; rather, it “builds upon” our common knowledge about Jackie Kennedy (Onassis), and so the events in the movie are “becoming part of her legacy forever.” (A tad histrionic, if you ask me.)

I love that the movie is not a rehash of the info that is already out there. Reminds me of going to a concert and the band plays their songs exactly as they are on their albums. We could have stayed home and listened to the songs if we wanted to hear them played like that! Give me some variation–that’s why we go to concerts! (Don’t get me started.)

Living in the public eye: Critic Hopson observes that the assassination was a “crippling blow that struck at the heart of our nation during a turbulent time. And while the country ‘suffered openly,’ one person was forced to share her most personal grief with the world, and that was First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.”

Review of Reviews: A Thor Point

I didn’t really understand what was behind Thor, the superhero and his movies. And why was Natalie Portman in them?

I went and found out.

Up this week: three reviews of Thor, the Dark World, sequel to Thor. I commend the different ways the critics have found to describe red liquid. 

Red Mush or Blood?

1. Detroit News, 11/8/2013:

By Tom Long

Spoilers: Sounds like it gives away all plot developments, and there ain’t too many.

Plot: Thor is from Planet Asgard, which is under attack by evil elves. On earth Natalie Portman is studying the “floating red ether stuff” that the elves use to obliterate all of humanity.

The Takeaway: D+. Neither funny nor fun, there is no point in watching it. Too much time on Asgard, not enough on Earth.

Listen Tom Long, if you hate the movie, is it really necessary to give all the plot points away, especially given that there seem to be so few? Just be yourself, hate it, and move on to the next review.

red test tube

2. SFGate 11/7/2013 (San Francisco)

By Mick LaSalle

Spoilers: LaSalle uses way too many to support his opinion.

Plot: Thor is prince on Asgard, Natalie a scientist on Earth. Natalie is researching a “red, churning substance” that makes the elves evil.

The Takeaway: The first Thor was better in every way: the directors were better, the score’s composer was better, the tension between Thor and Natalie Portman was better, the battle scenes were better.

3. The Atlantic, 11/8/2013:

By Christopher Orr

Spoilers: Too  many.

Plot: Ditto the above–Elves, Asgard; Natalie, Earth. “Otherworldly floating goo” has got to go.

The Takeaway:  Not a must-see, but still better than the first Thor. It’s funnier.

redblobsfloating