Currently browsing the "Natalie Portman" tag.

Review: Vox Lux

Vox Lux aka A Pop Star is Born begins in 1999 with a school shooting where young Celeste played by Raffey Cassidy (Tomorrowland, The Killing of a Sacred Deer) is badly injured, but survives. And when she performs a song she’s written with her sister at the memorial to express her feelings, it strikes a chord with the public and before you know it she’s a little pop star, despite having middling talent. The rest of the film is a meditation on our fixation with celebrity and violence and what that does to older Celeste played by Natalie Portman as she lives through it. I can see why the concept would attract a writer to hang a story on it, but unfortunately the execution of the film doesn’t ultimately support such a heavy load.

Quickie Reviews: Annihilation; Game Night; The Party

Annihilation is interesting and weird, slow and methodical, and dare I say, bordering on boring. Hyper-sensitive fans of the film may ream me for not fully grasping or appreciating the deeper meaning, the metaphors, the beauty in the bizarre, yadda yadda yadda. But that’s okay. I didn’t love Arrival either. Annihilation is a cerebral sci-fi horror flick from Alex Garland (Ex Machina) based on the “Southern Reach Trilogy” by Jeff VanderMeer. If you’ve read the books, you’re probably ahead of the game and more likely than most to love this movie. Here’s the gist: Natalie Portman plays Lena, an Army veteran and cellular biologist whose husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) was believed killed in action during a secret military mission. He reappears a year later, extremely ill, with no memory of what happened. Government agents nab the newly-reunited couple and take them to “Area X”, an unspecified locale that borders a mysterious “Shimmer” that’s been expanding along the U.S. coastline.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: Office Christmas Party; Miss Sloane; Jackie; Lion

Comedy. Drama. Suspense. History. Politics. Lots to choose from at the box office this weekend. And it’s all pretty good, even awards-worthy. Except for Office Christmas Party. That one’s just for fun!

Office Christmas Party is not destined to become a holiday classic. But it’s still plenty of fun in the moment, thanks to a Santastic bundle of comedic talent. Too many sub-plots clutter up the nativity scene a bit, but here’s the gist: The uptight CEO (Jennifer Aniston) of a tech company cancels all holiday parties and threatens to close the Chicago branch run by her dufus brother Clay (T.J. Miller) unless he can seal a lucrative deal with a potential client (Courtney B. Vance) by year’s end. With the help of his Chief Technical Officer (Jason Bateman) and a talented techie (Olivia Munn), Clay throws caution (and his sister’s orders) to the wind and throws an epic office party designed to impress the client, boost morale, and save everyone’s jobs. Let’s just say the party – which the head of HR (Kate McKinnon) insists on calling a “non-denominational holiday mixer” — goes off the rails big-time, devolving into a drug and alcohol-fueled physical comedy extravaganza.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes on Two Indies: A Tale of Love and Darkness; Morris from America

A Tale of Love and Darkness is obviously a passion project for Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman. She not only stars in the film, which is primarily in Hebrew with English subtitles, but she also wrote the screenplay, and directed. Unfortunately, she may have bitten off more than she could chew with her directorial debut. I can’t imagine anyone rushing out to see this film unless they are already familiar with Israeli writer and journalist Amos Oz and are curious to see how his memoirs have been translated to the big screen. Even they may be surprised and disappointed to discover the film focuses primarily on the mental illness and depression that plagued Amos’s mother Fania (Portman) as he was growing up in Jerusalem in the 1940s.

Thor: The Dark World

If you’re a fan of the science-fiction-fantasy-action-adventure-superhero genre, then you’ll get a kick out of the latest Thor flick. It’s not the best of the ‘Avengers’ movies, but it still holds its own as a source of mindless entertainment. No disrespect intended for those who actually grasp the mythology of Asgard, the Nine Realms (including Earth), and characters with names like Malekith, Odin, Sif, Fandral and Volstagg. It’s just that I tend to get a bit lost in the universe best understood by Comic-Con aficionados. Overall, I enjoyed Thor: The Dark World, but there’s really no need to see this one in 3D. Put the extra cash toward popcorn. The ‘eye candy’ comes with the price of admission. I’m not sure why Thor (Chris Hemsworth) felt compelled to take his shirt off in one particular scene, but hey, I’m not complaining.

Your Highness

If you’re a fan of Beavis and Butthead and the Jackass movies, then chances are you might be able to appreciate the wealth of weirdness and crude humor that is Your Highness. But for me… well… I just don’t get it.

No Strings Attached

No Strings Attached serves its purpose – by serving up a decent little romantic comedy. It’s rated “R” for a reason though, so don’t be takin’ the kids!

Black Swan

Arty Chick and other arty-minded film folks will have to weigh in on this one, because I know (from listening to the buzz of some of my favorite and well-respected chicks and roosters) that Black Swan could potentially be described as “phenomenal”. But my description leans more toward “phenomenally twisted” and kinda creepy. So you may really, really like this movie… or really, really not like this movie.. or really, really spend a lot of time contemplating if you liked it or not. I fall into the latter category! It’s not a “mainstream” movie, but it does have the potential to cross over a bit, thanks mostly to the stunning (albeit creepy) performances by Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, and Winona Ryder.

Brothers

Brothers is another film that I went to having one expectation from the previews and came away with a different story altogether. Directed by Jim Sheridan (In America) and starring Toby Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman, it is a remake of the Danish movie Brødre which was written and directed by Susanne Bier (After the Wedding).