Five Good Movies and A Stinker

One of the best things about living in New York City is that, if you’re into movies, we get them all first!  A whole slew of new ones have come out lately and of the six new ones I’ve seen, five were terrific.  There was also, however, one absolute stinker.

I’ll start with the good ones.

Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy in JACKIE.

Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy in JACKIE.

JACKIE, about Jacqueline Kennedy in the aftermath of her husband’s assassination in Dallas in 1963, was very interesting but extremely sad.  This poor woman not only witnessed the brutal murder of her husband but was sitting right beside him when his head was blown off, so you can just imagine the extent of her trauma.  If you are not someone who has read a lot about the assassination, as I have, fair warning, you might be a bit confused by the format, which skips back and forth over the timeline of events.  However, it’s a good movie.  Natalie Portman does a superb job.  I could not help but wonder what it must have felt like to be Natalie, playing this role, and donning the iconic pink and navy blue suit and pillbox hat that Jackie was wearing on the fatal day…

MOANA, from Disney.

MOANA, from Disney.

I love anything Hawaiian, Tahitian, or anyplace in between, so I had to see MOANA.  A gutsy girl fights to save her island with the help of an egomaniacal god.  It’s good, clean fun, and the songs are pretty cool, too.

DENIAL, starring Rachel Weisz.

DENIAL, starring Rachel Weisz.

DENIAL stars Rachel Weisz as a professor fighting the claims of a Holocaust denier who calls her a liar and says the Holocaust didn’t really happen.  Weisz does a great job, and the movie, which could have turned out too slow since it’s all about lawyers and strategies, moved along and was riveting.  Lost somewhere in the middle of it was one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard with regard to shutting up the Holocaust deniers: that someone should have gone over the ruins of the gas chambers at Auschwitz and done a forensic analysis of them.  Indeed, that’s a great idea since the evidence would speak for itself.  Meanwhile, the only criticism I have of the movie itself is that it didn’t show the childhoods of the two main characters, but merely mentioned them.  It would have been good to see some of their backstories play out.

Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in ALLIED.

Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in ALLIED.

ALLIED is set during World War II in Casablanca, France and England, and it’s very good movie.  Brad Pitt is married to Marion Cotillard who is a Resistance heroine…or is she?  There’s some problems with the plot of this story, since the resolution wasn’t as clear as it could have been, but Pitt and Cotillard are a beautiful couple, they’re eye candy like the stars of old used to be, and it’s stunning to watch.  Bring a hanky.

ELLE, the most wretched movie.

ELLE, the most wretched movie.

Before I get to the best of the movies I’ve seen these last few weeks, I may as well mention the stinker.  It’s a French movie called ELLE, and frankly, it sucked.  I went on the afternoon before I started a new job, hoping to sit back at a nice movie, relax and enjoy it.  Ha!  Instead, I walked into a creepily terrifying movie about a sexual assault.  Isabelle Huppert is the star.  This bomb of a movie starts out as an apparent whodunnit and slowly (too slowly) devolves into a what-the-hell-is-it?  Add to that, I know enough French to realize the subtitles weren’t always the correct translation of what the insane characters were saying, but not enough to catch all of it.  Perhaps it’s better in French, but it left me with questions, not answers.  As for the violence, well, if you want to give yourself a heart attack, the ferocious scenes in this awful flick might be enough to send you to the Emergency Room, but if you don’t want to have a cardiac arrest, as we say in Brooklyn, FAHGEDDABOUDIT!

The best one of them all: FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM.

The best one of them all: FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM.

Now on to the BEST of all of these movies.  For cuteness, suspense, fun, and sheer entertainment, J.K. Rowling’s FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM was the most enjoyable movie of them all.  Newt Scamander of HARRY POTTER fame, played by Eddie Redmayne, comes to New York City in 1926 with a suitcase full of magical creatures…and they promptly get loose…I’ll say no more, but the ending of this one made me want to stand up and cheer.  Want to be entertained?  Stick with anything by J.K. Rowling!

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