Jackie, Split, Lion The Film Review


Jackie, Split, Lion

Mark Kermode gives his unique take on the best and worst of the week's film and DVD releases, with Gavin Esler.


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Transcript


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Hello, and welcome to the Film Review on BBC News.

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To take us through this week's cinema releases, as ever,

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Mark Kermode is with me, and what will you be telling us

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about this week, Mark?

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Very interesting week.

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We have Jackie, in which Natalie Portman plays the First Lady.

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We have Split, a psychological thriller from M Night Shyamalan.

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And Lion, the true story of a little boy lost.

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Well, Jackie, how timely?

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Yes, extraordinary, isn't it.

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So this is directed by Chilean film-maker Pablo Larrain, and it's

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the story of the assassination and aftermath of John F Kennedy,

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as seen through the eyes of Jackie Kennedy, played,

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as everyone will know, by Natalie Portman.

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There's been an awful lot of interest in her performance,

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lots and lots of nominations, and the film plays out

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like a kaleidoscope.

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It's essentially juggling a series of different time frames

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that are all meant to be representing her fragmented state

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of mind, so we have the motorcade in Dallas, the aftermath

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in Washington, we have the funeral, the huge sort of funeral

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arrangements, and we also have a wrap round which is

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Jackie Kennedy being interviewed by a journalist who,

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in the film is unnamed, but it's obviously inspired

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by the Life Magazine interview.

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At the very beginning of the interview she says

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to him, "Just remember I'm editing this conversation."

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And he says, "OK, it's going to be your version of events."

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Here's a clip.

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You'll have to share something personal eventually.

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People won't stop asking until you do.

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And if I don't, they'll interpret my silence however they want?

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"Her brow furrows, her lips are drawn.

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She holds back her tears but she can't hide her anger."

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Most writers want to be famous.

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You want to be famous?

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No, I'm fine as I am, thank you.

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You should prepare yourself.

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This article will bring you a great deal of attention.

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In that case, any advice for me?

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Yes. Don't marry the President.

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Are you afraid I'm about to cry again?

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No, I'd say you're more likely to scream?

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Scream what?

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"My husband was a great man."

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And interesting, because people might think we know everything

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there is to know about that story, is there anything new in

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this, does it resonate?

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What it does is, it attempts to portray her, firstly as somebody

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going through an horrendous personal crisis, and we do

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have the assassination, and it is shocking, as it should be.

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But also somebody who, in the period immediately afterwards,

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is constructing the legacy, is basically building the Camelot

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story, which then became the story everybody told about JFK.

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Jackie is portrayed very much as First Lady of the televisual age,

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somebody who is a master of the printed word

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and also the moving image.

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Some of the things - you may have noticed from that

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clip her performance is very arch, very stagey, very mannered,

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and when I first saw the film I actually found that alienating.

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It was only later on, and I have seen it twice now,

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I realised what it is alienated.

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She is alienated from her surroundings.

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Because the film has this kaleidescopic and necessarily

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fragmentary structure, it is possible that it may not

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gel, that it may not engage you emotionally.

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The key to it doing the emotional engagement is Mica Levi's score,

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which is absolutely brilliant, and it's one of those films

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in which the music is the thing that pulls it all together.

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Pulls all these different fragments, shards, elements together,

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and involves you in the story emotionally.

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I think Natalie Portman's performance is very peculiar,

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very strange, but it's because she is performing

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a performance.

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She is playing somebody on a stage, also somebody in the eye of a storm.

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The music for me is what made it, you know, cohere, what made it gel,

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what made it into something other than just a kind of arch

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and slightly abstract exercise in revisiting history.

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Well, we will find out next week whether she has been nominated

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for an Oscar, of course.

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Let's talk about Split.

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James McAvoy, great British actor back on the screen.

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Yes, so this is a new film from M Night Shyamalan,

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who I think is still best known for The Sixth Sense,

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and had a run of critically acclaimed films and then made some

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real stinkers, and kind of came back recently with a sort of stripped

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down found footage movie.

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This is, I think it's an interesting story.

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James McAvoy plays somebody who has 23 separate personalities.

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At the beginning of film we see him kidnapping some young women,

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one of them is played by Anya Taylor-Joy,

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who was so brilliant in The Witch, who realises pretty early on the key

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to her survival is going to be negotiating with different

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personalities that seem to be existing within this

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one warring character.

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Now, McAvoy has real fun with the role.

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He really enjoys it.

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On the one hand, he is playing someone who is a fashion designer,

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another is a young child with a lisp, and there's a veyr

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prim, proper woman called Patricia, and all these controlling elements,

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and they keep talking about the Beast, the Beast,

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this thing called the Beast, which may or may not surface.

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Shyamalan, I think, is not quite the master of the genre

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that he once looked like being.

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Sometimes the screenplay is very clunky, some of the direction

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is a little bit creaky and the story is preposterous, but in a way

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which is - but if you saw it as like an old fashioned B-movie,

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when you kind of think, OK, it's one of those films,

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it kind of functions OK, but it is held shoulder high

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by McAvoy's performance, and also by the fact that

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if you accept that the set-up is fairly preposterous,

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and what you're going to get shouldn't be taken too seriously,

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there are certain joys about it.

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It is much better than the films he was making a few years ago,

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when he really did seem to be somebody, who, having

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started with brilliant work like Sixth Sense,

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had then just gone completely out of control, and was making

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nonsensical science fiction movies.

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And described as a horror film when I've read about it.

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Is that accurate?

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It's a psychological thriller with some horror elements, yes.

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That's probably the best way...

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I think he would like to describe it as a mystery.

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I would describe it as a clunky B-movie, raised shoulder high

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by the central performance, which of course is several central

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performances in one.

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Lion, based on a true story.

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An extraordinary true story.

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This whole thing about truth is stranger than fiction.

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The story of a young boy in the mid-80s, from Kandahar,

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who got onto a train on which he was trapped, which then

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travelled 1600 kilometres, and by the time he got off it

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he was away from home, couldn't speak the language,

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didn't know how to describe how to get himself back home,

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and ended up in the hands of the authorities and ended up

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being adopted by a couple in Tasmania.

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Decades later, the taste of an Indian sweet food suddenly

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sends him into a reverie, which takes him back

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to his childhood and he suddenly becomes obsessed with trying to find

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the life that he lost, and had almost forgotten about.

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Here's a clip.

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Saroo!

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You need to face reality.

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What do you mean, reality?

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Do you have any idea what it's like knowing my real brother

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and mother spend every day of their lives looking for me?

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How every day my real brother screams my name?

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Can you imagine the pain they must be in, not knowing where I am?

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25 years, Luce.

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25!

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Why didn't you tell me that was happening for you?

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We swan about in our privileged lives.

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It makes me sick.

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I have to find home.

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They need to know I'm OK.

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I mean, he's a hugely likeable actor, Dev Patel.

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He is absolutely brilliant in this, and also the film itself does a very

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good job of not becoming what you think it might be,

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which is the film in which somebody looks something up on Google Earth.

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It's a film which has real emotional resonance.

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The opening scenes with the young boy, the five-year-old boy getting

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lost in the train station has a Spielberg-y element to it.

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The young kid with the enormous machinery of these train stations.

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It's heartbreaking stuff.

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It doesn't descend into melodrama.

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Nicole Kidman as Saroo's adoptive mother does a very,

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very good job of an understated performance, which manages

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to show two things.

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Firstly anguish, but she also manages to demonstrate love,

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which is a really hard thing to act on screen, and I think

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she does it brilliantly.

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I have seen this twice now, both times I confess I have been

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reduced to floods of tears by it.

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I think you would have to be pretty hard hearted not to.

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It is a really, really moving story, and it is told in a way

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which is populist and accessible, but also, I think,

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profoundly touching, and even second time around,

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even when I knew, because the first time round I didn't know

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anything about the story, I saw it completely cold.

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Even second time round when I did, I found it a very

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overwhelming experience.

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Definitely one to see then.

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Best out - I have a feeling I know what you might pick?

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It's La La Land.

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The biggest problem La La Land has is, everyone says

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La La Land is brilliant, so now there is almost a backlash,

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people saying "Oh, surely it can't be as good as that."

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It is, I'm sorry, it is.

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It's a modern musical that owes a debt to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

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and Singin' in the Rain, but also to Casablanca

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and New York, New York.

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And the big crowd scenes, the big numbers are quite something.

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And I've heard some people say "Oh, there's not a memorable tune in it."

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There's lots!

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Of course there are.

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I could be singing that soundtrack endlessly since seeing the film.

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I thought it was really charming.

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I thnk Damien Chazelle has done an absolutely brilliant job.

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I would recommend anybody saw it.

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It's bitter-sweet.

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It does have a strong poignant thread of sadness,

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which is what makes the joyful element more joyful.

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I loved it. I absolutely loved it.

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Your thoughts about DVD.

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I don't know this one, I confess.

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So Kubo and the Two Strings is an animated film,

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stop motion animation film, and, I mean, I'm a huge animation

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fan, not least because it's such a diverse genre.

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What I loved about this is the animation itself

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is breathtaking, you can just watch it over and over again,

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which is why it's lovely to have it for home viewing.

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It's a lovely complicated multi-layered story,

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which is told through words, actions, but also through music,

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and it's one of those films I think genuinely audiences of all ages can

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watch, and a film which treats its audience with respect.

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It imagines that its audience is smart enough to keep up

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with the story, is emotionally engaged enough to understand

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the deeper themes of the story, and are also willing for the story

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to play out in its own time.

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I thought it was dazzling.

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I thought it was wonderful, and several nominations.

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I think it's a film which really deserves repeat viewing.

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I can imagine, I have the Blu-ray of this, I can imagine going back

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to it time and time again, and every time you see it seeing

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something you missed the first time.

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Well, that is a recommendation.

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Mark, great to see you, as ever, thank you very much.

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Just a reminder, you can find more film news and reviews

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from across the BBC online, including you can see

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all these previous shows.

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That's at bbc.co.uk/markkermode.

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Also, of coarse, it is award season.

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We were talking about Natalie Portman, find out who has

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been nominated for the Oscars on our special programme coming

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on Tuesday, 1.15 lunchtime, on the BBC News channel.

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Join me and the film critic Jason Solomons for all of that.

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That's the Oscar nominations 2017.

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That's it for this week, though, thanks for watching.

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Bye.

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