NEW THIS WEEK
Disney’s latest animated adventure tells the story of Moana, a young woman with a calling to take to the seas to find herself and help save her people. Along her journey she teams up with disgraced former Demi-God Maui (Dwayne Johnson) who reluctantly helps her along her quest, all set to beautiful and Oscar nominated original music from Hamilton’s Lin Manuel Miranda.
We Said: “It's not enough for Moana to simply be fearless and tough, it's that she's strong enough enough to know when to rely on herself and when to lean on the support of those close to her. And thankfully that doesn't include some love interest for her to fall back on. The only love she has is for her people and her culture, and that makes Moana a character we all want to champion, and the film one we'll want to see again and again.” Rating: 4 out of 5
The Good: With an incredible creative team backing it, Moana is not only one of Disney’s best recent movies, it’s also one of the year’s best movies as well. The animation and voice acting are all top notch. The characters are memorable and inspiring. There’s an appropriate balance of humor and heart. And of course, the music is absolutely brilliant. Hamilton mastermind Lin Manuel Miranda has crafted some truly beautiful and showstopping songs that hold up to the best Disney has to offer. Moana really is something special.
The Bad: In its passionate attempt to steer the titular heroine away from typical princess movie traps, the filmmakers reject the typical love story plot line and instead send Moana and Maui off on an action packed adventure, which is great. However, the oddessy story structure does make for a bit of a rambling narrative at times. There’s a lot in the middle of the movie that’s more just a series of cool action scenes than it is a flowing plot. Still incredibly entertaining, and a welcomed change for the genre, but occasionally it does lose its focus.
Overall: Moana is proof that Disney’s new wave of Broadway-inspired powerful-princess movies is strong. Just about every individual aspect of the movie is brilliant, and comes together to make yet another animated gem that parents will love as much as their children.
This intense and powerful new biopic stars Natalie Portman in an Oscar nominated performance as former First Lady Jackie Kennedy, exploring her point of view on the days following her husband’s tragic assassination.
We Said: “Jackie is everything we expected it to be and more. It is both the Oscar bait drama we thought it would be and yet fuller, richer due to [Director Pablo] Larrain's direction and [Lead Actress Natalie] Portman's vivid, unforgettable performance. While most biopics are content to simply go over what we already know, Jackie builds upon what we don't already, becoming part of her legacy forever.” Rating: 4 out of 5
The Good: It is less than newsworthy to report that Natalie Portman is incredible in this film. She absolutely owns this role, and carries this movie into a truly thought provoking and intense character-driven place. I found Jackie to be far more engrossing than I imagined going into it, as the post-assassination US is examined with an almost psychological thriller type tone that really swept me up the intensity of the story. It’s a beautiful movie to look at, with an incredible lead performance.
The Bad: Natalie Portman’s turn as the former First Lady is truly remarkable and worth seeking out, but unfortunately it alone is the biggest draw of the movie. Jackie is perfectly fine, with a lot of moments that really are fascinating, but it is very clearly an awards-push movie made to showcase one person’s work, and that does grow tiresome, even in a movie as tight and short as this.
Overall: Jackie is a fairly straight-forward biopic drama, elevated by a brilliant lead performance and intense editing.
Man Down stars Shi LaBeouf as U.S. Marine Gabriel Drummer, a deeply troubled veteran struggling to readjust to life at home after returning from a tour in Afghanistan. With the aid of his only remaining friend, Drummer sets out to reunite with his estranged wife and child in this intense new film from controversial Writer/Director Dito Montiel.
We Said: “The biggest problem appears to be that [Writer/Director Dito] Montiel and [Lead Actor Shia] LaBeouf are making two totally different movies. Montiel seems to think he's got a post-apocalyptic Red Dawn remake on his hands, with scores of grimy, muddy soldiers fighting enemies on bombed-out native turf. LaBeouf is engaged in a serious character piece about a soldier returned home from Afghanistan with PTSD and his struggles to reconnect with the wife (Kate Mara) and son he left behind. Never shall the two opposing approaches meet, or at least not in any satisfying way.” Rating: 2 out of 5
Also Available: Incarnate, The Eyes of my Mother, Miss Hokusai, Trespass Against Us, Check Point, The Lesson, 100 Streets, Cold War II, and Tanna