'Jackie' revisited (USA 2016)

I don't think it's a secret, a rumor or a lie that 2016 was not a good year for movies, and 2017 is - following the same form - turning out quite awful as well.

That said, the best three movies I saw in 2016 were The Handmaiden, Nocturnal Animals and Jackie, and I didn't see any of them in a theater. Of the three, Nocturnal Animals affected me most severely, no doubt because I am a failed writer who has baggage, and it is an exquisite gift to failed writers with baggage.

That freight unloaded, Jackie was the best of the bunch. It was a "small" film, underrated in some senses and over-represented in others, it is the one I continue to go back to - Natalie Portman's 'role of a lifetime' should have been Black Swan, then she did Jackie; I bugged my sister about this movie for months and she finally watched it and came to much the same conclusion I did - we're not twins, but we share a lot of the same thinking regarding the magic picture screen. Feel free to read the comically pretentious review at the New York Times here.

Jackie works - I still don't know why. A Chilean director re-hashing a story told many times before about an American subject doesn't sound fun or even ... catchy. Portman disappears into her role and is aided by a supporting cast that disappears as well. I'm not a Kennedy sycophant yet this business put the hook in me at once.

Jackie Kennedy's sense of history is compelling - her instinct regarding the funeral march modeled after Lincoln's is perfectly normal within the context of the story's framing and still - still! - is outwardly absurd, yet it not only works as drama on film, it proves historically astute. This aspect, this footnote to a much larger story continues to endure as part of its macabre charm, and I don't say that disrespectfully.


Creede Kurtz

I write about the movies I see and a few other things.
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