Jackie: The Creation of a Fantasy

Jackie is the depiction of Jackie Kennedy’s widowing, when her husband, John F Kennedy, was shot to death right next to her in the early 1960s.

The story is very much a first-person tale, with the camera focusing on Jackie (played by Natalie Portman) or following her, to the exclusion of others, most of the time. This cloistering camera style complements the personal story conveyed.

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Natalie Portman plays Jackie Kennedy in Jackie. Image source: http://www.vulture.com/2016/11/natalie-portman-jackie-kennedy-c-v-r.html

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The Snowpiercer moves along strangely

A review by Brenda Daniels

I’m always attracted to futuristic films, especially if they’re about a world changed by drastic weather conditions. Snowpiercer is one such example. But this film is more about man’s meddling in both the natural and the social worlds, than it is about earth’s imagined future.

The result is a strange, unsettling film, with surprising violence and oddly paced action.

To counteract the effects of global warming, in Snowpiercer, humans attempt to cool the atmosphere. Their efforts fail, however, and an ice age ensues. The only human survivors live on a high-speed, constantly moving train called the Snowpiercer. Just as the frozen landscape it travels through is a by-product of human engineering, so the social conditions on the train are carefully controlled by humans. Their product is an unequal class system.

The action begins when the low lifes at one end of the train rebel against their squalid living conditions and fight their way to the front. Each coach they move through features a surrealistically different “landscape”.

The fighting is violent and moves through the coaches in a staccato manner that echoes the breaks in the carriages, pausing too long in each one rather than flowing at an even pace.

Most intriguing is the story’s underlying reference to, and questioning of, an ostensibly Judeo-Christian perspective on life. The train, which circumnavigates the earth once a year, is called an ark. Its leader, Wilford, is referred to in mysterious, divine terms. And Wilford determines the destiny of the train’s passengers in a pre-ordained manner that unjustly benefits some while sacrificing others.

At the film’s conclusion we are left wondering if, just as the train moves inexorably round the earth, the cycle of man’s unsavoury influence on earth will simply continue.

Snowpiercer opens at Ster Kinekor theatres in South Africa on 17 October.

Tilda Swinton stars in Snowpiercer. Photo: Creative Commons (Flickr.com)

Tilda Swinton stars in Snowpiercer. Photo: Creative Commons (Flickr.com)

Unbelievable Winter’s Tale is forgettable

A review by Brenda Daniels

Winter’s Tale is a fantasy romance set in a wintry New York. The action spans over a century with several characters appearing throughout the time without ageing. The tale is a circular battle between good and evil complete with a magic horse, a Judge with Satanic qualities (Will Smith) and a host of demons, the most determined one, Pearly Soames, played by Russell Crowe.

The centrepiece of the film is the love story of a seemingly common thief, Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), and Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay), a rich but dying young woman.

A secondary love story is between the same Peter Lake many decades later and a little girl called Abby, who is dying of cancer. As Pearly tries to destroy any beauty in these relationships, Peter works to fulfil his destiny by helping Beverly and Abby avoid their mortality.

Farrell, who has starred in action films like In Bruges and London Boulevard, does well in this romantic role; the love scene between Peter and Beverly is particularly tender. He also seems to have a rapport with children, and his interactions, firstly with Beverly’s young sister Young Willa (Mckayla Twiggs), and then with Abby (Ripley Sobo), are lovely to watch.

Long after a gripping tale has finished, I may grapple with the story, delving into the characters’ traits, sometimes imagining myself living out their lives. I didn’t with Winter’s Tale. I couldn’t identify enough with the characters to care about them.

The fantasy elements, too, are just too unbelievable to be enjoyable. Despite some good relationship scenes, Winter’s Tale is a forgettable film that will not appeal enough to adults or children to be enjoyable for either audience.

Winter’s Tale opens at NuMetro Theatres in South Africa on Friday 28 February. It runs for 118 minutes and is rated 10DSV.

Colin Farrell, leadin man in Winter's Tale (Source: creative commons)

Colin Farrell, leadin man in Winter’s Tale (Source: creative commons)