Jackie | Uptown Theatre
Just in time for Christmas, Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain’s (Neruda, No) first American film stars Natalie Portman as the fascinating former First Lady. Critics so far have been impressed that the film does not follow the narrative of so many political biopics and actually is a profoundly acute psychological study. It probably does not hurt that Portman plays a character fashionably dressed no matter what the era, boding satisfying Oscar chances for the film’s costume designer.
Fences | Lagoon Cinema
Actor Denzel Washington directs his third film (after Antwone Fisher and The Great Debaters) based on August Wilson’s play (part of his “Pittsburgh Cycle” of plays set primarily among that city’s black underclass). Washington plays a father in the 1950s and former washed-up baseball player who resents the professional football success of his son (Jovan Adepo). Viola Davis plays the wife and mother who comes between these two battered egos.
Assassin’s Creed | Various Theaters
As comic book films have started to feature more impressive actors and filmmakers, the same is starting to be true of films based on video games. Featuring the reunited Macbeth duo of Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, this is based on a popular video game series where a shady corporation employs random civilians to plug into memories and inhabit the bodies of long-ago assassin ancestors. More importantly, however, the film allows Fassbender to play a hooded badass who leaps off rooftops and stabs people. The film holds the record for the highest-ever freefall by a stuntman.
Sing | Various Theaters
This looks to be an acceptable family outing for the holidays and has plenty of potential for rafts and rafts of hit sequels. The ostensible plot has a koala (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) who plans to rejuvenate his theater by holding a lip-syncing contest. Various cute animals perform songs like “Baby Got Back,” “Bad Romance,” “Kiss From a Rose,” etc. With such an enterprising vehicle for cute animals to perform kid-friendly versions of pop songs, this could be bigger than Minions and Kidz Bop combined.
Boudu Saved From Drowning | Trylon Microcinema
In this writer’s estimation, the perfect holiday film. A homeless man (Michel Simon) is saved from suicide and is taken in by a rich family. The result is not quite heartwarming as the homeless man continues to be slovenly and uncouth in spite of the family’s attempts to reform him. The Trylon’s Jean Renoir series continues apace with this 1932 French classic.