It’s been an eventful week in the Anglosphere what with the UK finally starting to draw lines in the sand ahead of its retreat from the EU, and the US about to receive the gift that is President Trump. If that’s too much to bear, or if you simply feel like celebrating, there’s plenty to enjoy in the film world. We have innovative and conventional biopics, a return to form and a surprise hit to own. Enjoy.
It seems whatever Chilean director Pablo Larraín touches turns to gold, albeit in an occasionally disturbing manner in some of his work (The Club anyone?). Here he moves into English for the first time for a fascinating biopic of Jacqueline Kennedy. Jackie, anchored by a career best performance from Natalie Portman, centres around the days following her husband’s death. Noah Oppenheim’s brilliant screenplay, shot to look like it’s straight out the ‘60s, carefully depicts the creation of the myth of JFK. Just about every element comes together perfectly.
If Jackie is an ambitious risk-taker, Lion plays it straight. That doesn’t mean this tale of a five-year old Indian boy trying to retrace his lost family isn’t effective though. Garth Davis’ debut based on the life of Saroo Brierley casts Dev Patel as the lost child who ends up adopted by an Australian family. Years later he decides to find his birth family back in India. There’s strong support from the likes of Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman and David Wenham along the way in this uplifting tearjerker.
M. Night Shyamalan’s career has been one of the most notable of the past 20 years and not in a good way. After starting strongly, he’s been on a steady and apparently never ending decline, churning out some of the very worst films of recent years. That slump might just have been arrested with Split, a psychological horror starring James McAvoy. He plays a troubled man who kidnaps three girls and proceeds to terrorise them. It’s drawn criticism for its approach to dissociative identity disorder, but it’s also a lot better than The Happening.
We move now to home releases and the chance to own Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Written and directed by Taika Waititi who last gave us What We Do in the Shadows and is now moving into Marvel’s stable of indie directors, it follows the flight of an old man (Sam Neill) and his mentee (Julian Dennison) into the New Zealand bush sparking a manhunt. A smash hit in New Zealand, this mixture of buddy comedy and drama has gone on to charm people everywhere.
That’s about all we have time for now. Next week we return to a previously drug-infested nightmare. See you then.