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Review: Jackie

Unlike traditional biopics, 'Jackie' is structured like a fever dream where the highs and lows are her time as First Lady are stacked unevenly, spilling into each other in the blink of an eye. Natalie Portman embodies the traumatic experience of living through one of life's most unimaginable horrors but finds she must still perform for the American people and press, who are dissecting her every move, looking for a flaw. Pablo Larraín, writer Noah Oppenheim, and Portman take Jackie, known for her extraordinary dignity and poise, and break her down psychologically. Revealing the mother simultaneously trying to console her children and a nation in the days following Kennedy's assassination in Dallas, Texas.

She must also massage the egos of Lyndon B. Johnson (John Carroll Lynch), eager to start his own legacy, and Robert (Peter Sarsgaard), who frets over the legacy of his departed brother. Returning President Kennedy's body to the White House, Jackie kn…

Review: 13 Hours - The Secret Soldiers of Beghazi

After the box-office success of Lone Survivor and American Sniper, the cottage industry of military themed January releases continues to go strong. Whereas those films came from Peter Berg and Clint Eastwood, directors known for taking a backseat to the material when it was called for, 2016's entry, 13 Hours: Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, comes from a director with the least tact ever observed over a career. Early speculation around the film had it that 13 Hours would be Michael Bay's most grown-up film, but those rumors were incorrect.

As the screen opens with the text "This is a true story," Michael Bay wants viewers to know right away that 13 Hours is the truest account of the story we have all heard so much about since 2012. Pointed blame isn't passed around openly, but Bay still wants audiences to know who he thinks is at the center of what went wrong. For the purposes of this film, the person to be blamed is C.I.A. station chief, Bob (David Costabile). Costa…

Review: Anomalisa

Weird is rarely used as a good quality in film criticism, but few words so completely describe Charlie Kaufman’s work as weird does. All of his films are a window into his very particular worldview, and that p.o.v. is certainly unlike anything seen in pop culture. For that reason, Anomalisa became an entry on many most anticipated lists for 2015. That Kaufman chose stop-motion to tell this story made the picture an event. So it came as a disappointment when the film was one of the year’s more mundane efforts.

Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind have an energy and heart at the center that is not present here. Previous collaborators like Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry were able to temper the overwhelming negativity Charlie Kaufman occasionally falls prey to, but, this time, the writer doesn’t have a director to rein things in. In all of his efforts to create an experience that is both familiar and alienating, Kaufman may have accidentally created something host…