Tag Archives: Peter Sarsgaard

“Jackie”

LOUISA: 2.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

“Jackie” is a film that is intended to be an intimate portrait of the iconic, fashionable and strong willed Jacqueline Kennedy (Natalie Portman), offering a twist on the story by setting it during the days following her husband’s assassination. The idea behind the screenplay is a good one, but the movie is damaged by a vague cloud of selective history and is at times uncomfortably overacted by Portman.

All in all it’s a good turn for the Oscar winner (for 2010’s “Black Swan”), but it feels like she is trying so hard to win as many awards as possible with this role that it sharply turns into something that’s more campy than eloquent. My measuring stick is that it’s not truly great acting if it doesn’t look effortless, and Portman’s performance seems strained and labored, the actress trapped inside the real-life quirks of her character. There’s plenty of crying and grief-yelling and chain smoking, if you catch my drift.

Little about Pablo Larraín‘s direction worked for me, with lots of lingering close-ups and so many slowly zooming shots that it promptly became too noticeable and irritating. The film rambles a bit too much and plays with its own nonlinear timeline, drifting between scenes that offer a truly compelling look at what it must’ve been like to live as the First Lady when your husband is murdered right in your arms and pure overindulgent filler. (Jackie trying on beautiful outfits while listening to the “Camelot” soundtrack tried my patience almost more than any other scene in any other film in recent memory).

Even worse is composer Mika Levi’s original score. It is so god-awful that you have to hear it to believe it. The score changes dramatically, starting with a perplexing “woooomp” of a somber trombone, but then morphing into an inappropriate cheerfulness when Jackie has to break the tragic news to her kids that their dad is dead.

The reenactments of the horrific historical moments will leave a lump in your throat, but for every touching memoir there’s five times the amount of bloated filler in the script. While I enjoyed seeing Jackie interacting with Bobby Kennedy (Peter Sarsgaard), their scenes together are so frequently repeated that the emotional impact is lessened. There’s also bit too much emphasis placed on the gimmicky religious discussion that Jackie has with a priest (John Hurt). It’s unnecessary and slows the film’s momentum, as do the constant flashbacks into the past as well as back to present day.

This bottled up biopic of restrained grief, trauma and faith isn’t an awful movie, but its failures lie in what it could’ve been. I would mildly recommend it to American history buffs.

“The Magnificent Seven”

LOUISA: 2 STARS MATT: 2.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

I was more than a little excited to see Antoine Fuqua‘s remake of “The Magnificent Seven,” a remake (of a remake) by a director who should’ve been the most crazy amazing choice to handle this material. Well, I didn’t anticipate just how humdrum of a movie this would be. It’s surprisingly poorly directed and is just about as unexciting as movies come.

The classic story of a band of outlaws who come to the aid of desperate townspeople is certainly enjoyable enough, but that’s where my enjoyment of the movie ended. The problem is that there’s absolutely nothing special about this particular retelling of the classic story that makes it a standout. It’s just blah blah blah, more of the same, and has zero reason to exist. Note to Hollywood: I’m so sick of this bland rehashing that’s running rampant in the film industry. If you’re going to remake / reboot a movie or tell a well known story, then take the time and the care to make something special. Don’t waste everyone’s time with a commonplace snooze fest like this.

This film is packed with some of the most mediocre dialogue and acting that I’ve seen this year. The roster of talent is impressive and includes Fuqua alums Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington, as well as Chris Pratt (his wisecracking cowboy shtick here is even more annoying than usual), Peter Sarsgaard (as a scenery-chewing, ridiculously over-the-top villain), and Vincent D’Onofrio (as a loveable Grizzly Adams type). Rounding out the seven outlaws are Byung-hun Lee, Martin Sensmeier, and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo. The overall tepid performances make me wonder if any of the actors really wanted to be here. It sure doesn’t seem like it.

Adding to this disconnect is the astonishingly poor character development. We never learn much about any of these characters, including their motivations or backstory (with the exception of Washington’s). These are surface characters, people we can’t connect with or understand. Because of this, I didn’t care about any of them. The film’s PG-13 rating doesn’t help either; the gunplay is toned down as a result. By the time the big shootout in town happens, it’s just too late to make anyone care. Admittedly, the shootout is still pretty awesome — but aren’t all Western shootouts pretty awesome?

I can’t think of much nice to say about this film. The costumes are ordinary, the jumpy editing is obnoxious, the religious imagery is too ‘in your face,’ and the original score by Simon Franglen and James Horner is awkward with its rapid-fire hand clapping. Yes, clapping.

Even if you are a fan of the genre, you’ll want to skip this one. It’s simply a dull movie all around.

MATT SAYS:

As late summer movies go, “The Magnificent Seven” isn’t half-bad. But that’s about the best thing I can say about it.

Denzel Washington is Chisolm, a bounty hunter with a sense of justice. Chris Pratt is Josh Faraday, an outlaw with a knack for getting under people’s skin. Together, they round up a band of five other skilled marksmen and fighters to join them on a fight against robber baron Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) and his small army of men who have taken over a small western town and murdered several of its inhabitants in cold blood.

As revenge tales go, “The Magnificent Seven” makes an unsatisfying meal. Its gutless PG-13 violence is tame. As westerns go it’s pedestrian, with cinematography that disappoints by refusing to pay much attention to the landscape. The script is unremarkable, too. There are some nice bits of dialogue, but those are mostly highlighted in the trailers and there’s precious little else that is worthy of notice.

Compared to director Antoine Fuqua‘s last outing (“The Equalizer,” which also starred Washington), “The Magnificent Seven” is a lackluster affair. It’s also somehow very appropriate end to a disappointing summer movie season, an unexciting bookend to a string of (mostly) lifeless films that will soon be forgotten. I’m hopeful that the fall season will bring us higher-quality entertainment.

“The Magnificent Seven” isn’t boring, but it’s barely worth watching.