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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Hello, and welcome to the Film Review on BBC News.
To take us through this week's cinema releases, as ever,
Mark Kermode is with me, and what will you be telling us
about this week, Mark?
Very interesting week.
We have Jackie, in which Natalie Portman plays the First Lady.
We have Split, a psychological thriller from M Night Shyamalan.
And Lion, the true story of a little boy lost.
Well, Jackie, how timely?
Yes, extraordinary, isn't it.
So this is directed by Chilean film-maker Pablo Larrain, and it's
the story of the assassination and aftermath of John F Kennedy,
as seen through the eyes of Jackie Kennedy, played,
as everyone will know, by Natalie Portman.
There's been an awful lot of interest in her performance,
lots and lots of nominations, and the film plays out
like a kaleidoscope.
It's essentially juggling a series of different time frames
that are all meant to be representing her fragmented state
of mind, so we have the motorcade in Dallas, the aftermath
in Washington, we have the funeral, the huge sort of funeral
arrangements, and we also have a wrap round which is
Jackie Kennedy being interviewed by a journalist who,
in the film is unnamed, but it's obviously inspired
by the Life Magazine interview.
At the very beginning of the interview she says
to him, "Just remember I'm editing this conversation."
And he says, "OK, it's going to be your version of events."
Here's a clip.
You'll have to share something personal eventually.
People won't stop asking until you do.
And if I don't, they'll interpret my silence however they want?
"Her brow furrows, her lips are drawn.
She holds back her tears but she can't hide her anger."
Most writers want to be famous.
You want to be famous?
No, I'm fine as I am, thank you.
You should prepare yourself.
This article will bring you a great deal of attention.
In that case, any advice for me?
Yes. Don't marry the President.
Are you afraid I'm about to cry again?
No, I'd say you're more likely to scream?
"My husband was a great man."
And interesting, because people might think we know everything
there is to know about that story, is there anything new in
this, does it resonate?
What it does is, it attempts to portray her, firstly as somebody
going through an horrendous personal crisis, and we do
have the assassination, and it is shocking, as it should be.
But also somebody who, in the period immediately afterwards,
is constructing the legacy, is basically building the Camelot
story, which then became the story everybody told about JFK.
Jackie is portrayed very much as First Lady of the televisual age,
somebody who is a master of the printed word
and also the moving image.
Some of the things - you may have noticed from that
clip her performance is very arch, very stagey, very mannered,
and when I first saw the film I actually found that alienating.
It was only later on, and I have seen it twice now,
I realised what it is alienated.
She is alienated from her surroundings.
Because the film has this kaleidescopic and necessarily
fragmentary structure, it is possible that it may not
gel, that it may not engage you emotionally.
The key to it doing the emotional engagement is Mica Levi's score,
which is absolutely brilliant, and it's one of those films
in which the music is the thing that pulls it all together.
Pulls all these different fragments, shards, elements together,
and involves you in the story emotionally.
I think Natalie Portman's performance is very peculiar,
very strange, but it's because she is performing
She is playing somebody on a stage, also somebody in the eye of a storm.
The music for me is what made it, you know, cohere, what made it gel,
what made it into something other than just a kind of arch
and slightly abstract exercise in revisiting history.
Well, we will find out next week whether she has been nominated
for an Oscar, of course.
Let's talk about Split.
James McAvoy, great British actor back on the screen.
Yes, so this is a new film from M Night Shyamalan,
who I think is still best known for The Sixth Sense,
and had a run of critically acclaimed films and then made some
real stinkers, and kind of came back recently with a sort of stripped
down found footage movie.
This is, I think it's an interesting story.
James McAvoy plays somebody who has 23 separate personalities.
At the beginning of film we see him kidnapping some young women,
one of them is played by Anya Taylor-Joy,
who was so brilliant in The Witch, who realises pretty early on the key
to her survival is going to be negotiating with different
personalities that seem to be existing within this
one warring character.
Now, McAvoy has real fun with the role.
He really enjoys it.
On the one hand, he is playing someone who is a fashion designer,
another is a young child with a lisp, and there's a veyr
prim, proper woman called Patricia, and all these controlling elements,
and they keep talking about the Beast, the Beast,
this thing called the Beast, which may or may not surface.
Shyamalan, I think, is not quite the master of the genre
that he once looked like being.
Sometimes the screenplay is very clunky, some of the direction
is a little bit creaky and the story is preposterous, but in a way
which is - but if you saw it as like an old fashioned B-movie,
when you kind of think, OK, it's one of those films,
it kind of functions OK, but it is held shoulder high
by McAvoy's performance, and also by the fact that
if you accept that the set-up is fairly preposterous,
and what you're going to get shouldn't be taken too seriously,
there are certain joys about it.
It is much better than the films he was making a few years ago,
when he really did seem to be somebody, who, having
started with brilliant work like Sixth Sense,
had then just gone completely out of control, and was making
nonsensical science fiction movies.
And described as a horror film when I've read about it.
Is that accurate?
It's a psychological thriller with some horror elements, yes.
That's probably the best way...
I think he would like to describe it as a mystery.
I would describe it as a clunky B-movie, raised shoulder high
by the central performance, which of course is several central
performances in one.
Lion, based on a true story.
An extraordinary true story.
This whole thing about truth is stranger than fiction.
The story of a young boy in the mid-80s, from Kandahar,
who got onto a train on which he was trapped, which then
travelled 1600 kilometres, and by the time he got off it
he was away from home, couldn't speak the language,
didn't know how to describe how to get himself back home,
and ended up in the hands of the authorities and ended up
being adopted by a couple in Tasmania.
Decades later, the taste of an Indian sweet food suddenly
sends him into a reverie, which takes him back
to his childhood and he suddenly becomes obsessed with trying to find
the life that he lost, and had almost forgotten about.
Here's a clip.
You need to face reality.
What do you mean, reality?
Do you have any idea what it's like knowing my real brother
and mother spend every day of their lives looking for me?
How every day my real brother screams my name?
Can you imagine the pain they must be in, not knowing where I am?
25 years, Luce.
Why didn't you tell me that was happening for you?
We swan about in our privileged lives.
It makes me sick.
I have to find home.
They need to know I'm OK.
I mean, he's a hugely likeable actor, Dev Patel.
He is absolutely brilliant in this, and also the film itself does a very
good job of not becoming what you think it might be,
which is the film in which somebody looks something up on Google Earth.
It's a film which has real emotional resonance.
The opening scenes with the young boy, the five-year-old boy getting
lost in the train station has a Spielberg-y element to it.
The young kid with the enormous machinery of these train stations.
It's heartbreaking stuff.
It doesn't descend into melodrama.
Nicole Kidman as Saroo's adoptive mother does a very,
very good job of an understated performance, which manages
to show two things.
Firstly anguish, but she also manages to demonstrate love,
which is a really hard thing to act on screen, and I think
she does it brilliantly.
I have seen this twice now, both times I confess I have been
reduced to floods of tears by it.
I think you would have to be pretty hard hearted not to.
It is a really, really moving story, and it is told in a way
which is populist and accessible, but also, I think,
profoundly touching, and even second time around,
even when I knew, because the first time round I didn't know
anything about the story, I saw it completely cold.
Even second time round when I did, I found it a very
Definitely one to see then.
Best out - I have a feeling I know what you might pick?
It's La La Land.
The biggest problem La La Land has is, everyone says
La La Land is brilliant, so now there is almost a backlash,
people saying "Oh, surely it can't be as good as that."
It is, I'm sorry, it is.
It's a modern musical that owes a debt to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
and Singin' in the Rain, but also to Casablanca
and New York, New York.
And the big crowd scenes, the big numbers are quite something.
And I've heard some people say "Oh, there's not a memorable tune in it."
Of course there are.
I could be singing that soundtrack endlessly since seeing the film.
I thought it was really charming.
I thnk Damien Chazelle has done an absolutely brilliant job.
I would recommend anybody saw it.
It does have a strong poignant thread of sadness,
which is what makes the joyful element more joyful.
I loved it. I absolutely loved it.
Your thoughts about DVD.
I don't know this one, I confess.
So Kubo and the Two Strings is an animated film,
stop motion animation film, and, I mean, I'm a huge animation
fan, not least because it's such a diverse genre.
What I loved about this is the animation itself
is breathtaking, you can just watch it over and over again,
which is why it's lovely to have it for home viewing.
It's a lovely complicated multi-layered story,
which is told through words, actions, but also through music,
and it's one of those films I think genuinely audiences of all ages can
watch, and a film which treats its audience with respect.
It imagines that its audience is smart enough to keep up
with the story, is emotionally engaged enough to understand
the deeper themes of the story, and are also willing for the story
to play out in its own time.
I thought it was dazzling.
I thought it was wonderful, and several nominations.
I think it's a film which really deserves repeat viewing.
I can imagine, I have the Blu-ray of this, I can imagine going back
to it time and time again, and every time you see it seeing
something you missed the first time.
Well, that is a recommendation.
Mark, great to see you, as ever, thank you very much.
Just a reminder, you can find more film news and reviews
from across the BBC online, including you can see
all these previous shows.
That's at bbc.co.uk/markkermode.
Also, of coarse, it is award season.
We were talking about Natalie Portman, find out who has
been nominated for the Oscars on our special programme coming
on Tuesday, 1.15 lunchtime, on the BBC News channel.
Join me and the film critic Jason Solomons for all of that.
That's the Oscar nominations 2017.
That's it for this week, though, thanks for watching.