TBT – A Christmas Story (1983)

America, bullshit, Christmas, films, fucking awful, fucking weird, meh, TBT

Everyone has their own favourite Christmas film. It’s a deeply personal and, often, confusing thing. I, personally, don’t understand why anyone would say anything other than The Muppets’ Christmas Carol but there are some weirdos out there. Love Actually is one of the those films that genuinely baffles me. There is so much love for that film but, when you really look at it, it’s just awful. I know people who willingly watch it repeatedly throughout December. Who would do that to themselves? Netflix should stop trying to shame fans of A Christmas Prince and starting calling out the people who are watching Love Actually again and again. They’re the real worries. Alongside the more contemporary Christmas viewing there are the real classic Christmas films that people just adore. Although, not all of them seem to be as popular over here as they are in America. I don’t know why but it feels like A Christmas Story hasn’t really translated to the UK market in the same way that most other Christmas films have. Every year I see and hear loads about it but, up until recently, I’d never seen the film myself. I knew quotes from it but had no context for them. After a recent prompt for an Instagram challenge I’m doing this month referenced the film, I decided it was finally time to watch it. After all, people seem to bloody love this film. Why else would it be played over and over for 24 straight hours? Oh god, imagine a world where somebody starts doing that for Love Actually? I couldn’t cope.

Now that I have seen A Christmas Story I have to say, I don’t get it. I was so ready for it to be the greatest thing I’d ever seen but I just don’t get it. I mean, it’s a fine collection of stories and all but it’s nowhere near as funny or endearing as I’d been lead to believe. The film is narrated by adult Ralphie Parker as he reminisces about the Christmas he had when he was 9 years old. Specifically about how desperate he was to get his dream present: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. Unfortunately, as he’s only a fucking kid, most sensible adults see this as a bad idea. Ralphie isn’t one to be stopped so tries every trick he can think of to convince his parents that it’s a good idea. Along the way, there are several smaller plots going on including Ralphie’s father winning a ridiculous prize in a competition, an ongoing joke concerning his dad and the neighbours’ dogs, Ralphie’s encounters with the school bully, and a brief encounter with some ill-advised swearing.

A Christmas Story is a very odd film that attempts to win favour with its nostalgic setting and fairly twee sensibility. The story is set around the 1940s so there is a slightly magical feel to everything. It’s a little historic whilst being incredibly familiar. Hearkening back to a time when Christmas was much less commercial and families thought about the more important things. Although, there is something quite off-putting about the setting. It feels too forced. I just couldn’t get on board with it. I like nostalgic TV but it has too feel natural. Take something like Mad Men, which makes the historical references work within the context of the story. A Christmas Story just seems to be using the past as a way to create a feeling that it is unable to generate naturally. Using nostalgia to create a festive ambience.

It’s not as if there aren’t good moments in this film but they are somewhat outweighed by the bad. For all the jokes that land fairly well, there are far more that just feel forced or cringey. There are parts of this film that make me feel so uncomfortable because they’re so bad. Like the moment Ralphie’s father is opening a crate and misreads the word “fragile” for no reason whatsoever. It’s not funny or silly. It doesn’t make any sense. Just like the whole film. I get that it is supposed to have the feel of several small vignettes coming together to create a festive treat but it just feels too disparate. There is nothing, other than Ralphie, that really ties these stories together. It just feels badly edited and unconnected. And super long. It’s not actually that long a film but watching it felt like a fucking marathon. I can’t imagine how long a 24 hour repeated watch would feel.

I guess it’s entirely possible that I’m missing something that I’d get if I was in America. Maybe that’s why the film hasn’t really made it over here. Something fundamental has been lost in translation. All I do know is, this film certainly won’t make it into my yearly festive rotation of films. It’s not the worst Christmas film I’ve ever seen but it’s certainly not an experience I’m keen to repeat.

Tuesday’s Reviews – The Founder (2017)

America, biopic, fast food, films, Laura Dern, McDonald's, Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, reviews

I’ve always liked Michael Keaton. I think I’d be bold enough to say that he’s my favourite Batman (sorry Adam West) and who can’t love him in Beetlejuice? I mean the guy’s had some misses, everybody has, but there’s nothing I really hate. Well, expect the super depressing and dark Jack Frost, which I’ve already moaned about in my list of worst ever Christmas films. I think I’d watch Keaton in nearly anything so I was already excited about the idea of The Founder. Now I can’t say I know much about the history of McDonald’s or that I was ever really planning on watching a film about it. However, as soon as I saw the trailer for this film I was desperate to see it. Obviously, knowing me as well as you do, it should be clear that I never got round to seeing it. I’ve hardly seen any of the films I was intending to see this year. In fact I’ve barely done anything that I was intending to do this year. I shouldn’t have any expectations for myself because I inevitably get distracted by real life and feel useless. I’ve always said that if I ever win the lottery (the
chances of that being incredibly remote given that I never buy a fucking ticket) that I’d still have to work otherwise I’d go crazy. Honestly though, I could easily just stay at home and watch films and read all day every day. I don’t even think I need human contact. It’s all so overrated and I have a lot of catching up to do. Starting now with this film.

I wasn’t really sure what to think about The Founder after I finished watching it and, if I’m honest, I don’t really think that it knew either. I don’t know whether it’s just because Michael Keaton makes him so much easier to like but Ray Kroc, the founder of the title, isn’t necessarily portrayed as the ruthless businessman that he maybe should be. It helps that we initially see Kroc as a wide-eyed salesman who has seen more doors in his face than he has sales. He has the drive and passion to succeed but he just hasn’t found that one idea that stands out from the crowd. Until he is placed into the path of the McDonald brothers in California. It is this chance meeting that gives Kroc the revolutionary idea that brought him to life.

Dick and Mac McDonald (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch) are two unassuming brothers who were the pioneers of the fast-food industry. The brothers saw a gap in the market and, after perfecting their operation, opened a restaurant that provided its customers with a burger, fries and a coke in a matter of minutes. After hearing their tale and touring the kitchen, Kroc can see the potential of the brother’s scheme. He convinces them to franchise and gets to work opening restaurants all over the country. Eventually, Kroc realises that he wants more than his contract with the brothers can provide him. He starts buying the land for the new franchises as a way to get more money. This leads to a complete fracturing of his partnership with the brothers, which ends with Kroc owning the everything.

The problem with the story is that it doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to admire or admonish Kroc. It understands that everything he did to make McDonald’s the global phenomenon it is to this day was genius and changed the American society forever. But it also appreciates that the way the businessman treated the McDonald brothers was unfair. It’s not as it The Founder goes out of it’s way ti impartially lead you to your own conclusion but feels more like the writers just couldn’t be bothered to decide how they felt. Keaton’s portrayal of the title character certainly helps to make him seem less detestable: the actor has an inherent charm that kind of filters through and makes things confusing. However, he is also adept at highlighting the slimy and ruthless side to Kroc’s personality. He is a man who will get what he wants no matter the cost. Yet his sheer persistence is surely a positive attribute that should be celebrated? You see it’s confusing.

But that’s not to say that I didn’t like this film. It potters along quite nicely and gives a good idea of what went in to the early years of the McDonald’s empire. Keaton’s performance as well as Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch all help to bring something to their characters and make the film totally watchable. I defy anyone to watch this and not come out of it loving the brotherly bond between Dick and Mac. The scenes where they recount their tale are some of the best scenes in the film. There is a sense of nostalgia within this tale that adds to the charm but the overall story is something that is more than relevant today. It speaks of a long forgotten time in American history but, in an age of Donald Trump, shows that, when it comes to money, it isn’t the good guys who always win the day.

If I had one major criticism, it’s the way in which The Founder handles Kroc’s personal life. He starts the film married to Ethel (Laura Dern) who waits at home whilst her husband tours the country. She has to put up with his schemes and the risk he makes to their fiances without causing too much of a fuss. It’s a waste of time role for someone like Dern and Ethel makes little impact on the story. Which is fine because as soon as Ray meets Joan (Linda Cardellini) he drops her pretty quickly. Although, we don’t see much of his life with Joan besides a bit of seductive milkshake making. The romance plot just feels as though it was tacked on to the story without any real idea of how it would work together. It doesn’t add much to the narrative and, to make any real impact, needed to be more fleshed out. Still, it certainly doesn’t make the film any worse… just a bit messier.

The Founder wasn’t created in the hope of making more money for McDonald’s nor was it made to try and dissuade viewers from visiting the fast food chain. It is a simple biopic about a man who majorly influenced the business world. It’s not exactly hard-hitting but there is enough included to get a picture of who Ray Kroc really was. It’s almost impossible not to see connections between him and the man currently residing in the White House. Maybe this film works because the timing is so pertinent but I enjoyed this film. Seeing Kroc’s image of himself as the self-made man play out against his actual ruthless approach is wonderful but, if I’m brutally honest, a bit weak. If only the punches had landed that little bit harder.

Banned Books Week: My Top 15 Banned Books

America, banned books, books, history, list, Top 10, women

Today marks the beginning of Banned Books Week; a time where the literary world encourages people to pick up a book that has, at one time or another, been deemed unsuitable for society. There are endless great books that have gone unpublished thanks to various concerns regarding their morality. Most often is is books that are seen to contain dangerous amounts of sexual content, violence, or anti-religious sentiments that keep parents up at night. I’ve always thought the act of banning books is a really stupid one, not least because the majority of criticism is missing the overall point of the novels themselves. Of course, the major issue with saying outright that a book is “dangerous”is that it only increases the reputation of that book. How many people, upon hearing that their parents don’t want them reading something will instantly want to go and read it? A quick way to get people talking about and reading your book is to get it banned. How many people picked up a copy of the god awful Da Vinci Code because of the controversy that surrounded Dan Brown’s novel? His first 3 novels were hardly making headlines and each had fewer than 10,000 copies in their first printings. I’m not saying it was the only thing that made Dan Brown a success but all of the criticism and debate that came from it must have had an effect. So, banning a book doesn’t always get the right result. Especially when those books end up being classic works of literature. It’s weird to think that a lot of my favourite books were once unpublished because people didn’t want society to read them. So, in the hopes of inspiring people to pick up a banned book in honour of this week, I’m presenting my favourite banned books (and a few extras).

1. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence

DH Lawrence’s last novel has been the source of much controversy since it was first published privately in 1928. After an initial publication in Britain in 1932, the novel was not available until again until 1960. The story of a love-affair between a high-society married woman and a working-class man was seen as obscene and contained words that were not deemed suitable for publication. It was only after Penguin went to court to argue that the novel was of literary worth that Lady Chatterley was published again. It subsequently sold out. I know a lot people don’t really appreciate Lawrence’s writing these day but this book is definitely worth a read. If only to honour the trouble that people went to nearly 60 years ago to get the damn thing published

2. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Thanks to it’s questionable content regarding the love affair between an adult man and a young girl in his care, Lolita was banned in several countries after it’s initial release. The book was banned in the UK from 1955 to 1959 on moral grounds. Despite all of the controversy surrounding the book, Nabokov’s novel is not actually as erotic as it has been argued. Certainly not enough to see British customs officials seiing books that were entering the country.
3. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies has been one of my favourite books for years but, according to the American Library Association it is one of the top 10 most banned books in the US. Golding’s cautionary tale of young boys stranded on a deserted island is constantly being called into question because of it’s use of violence, profanity and, in some cases, pro-racist themes. I first read this novel when I was studying for my GCSEs (about 14/15) so I find it impossible to believe anyone seeing it as dangerous. It’s a great novel that still has a lot to say about human nature.

4. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood’s tale of a dystopian future ruled over by religious fanatics has, obviously, seen something of a popularity surge recently thanks to the amazing TV adaptation. The novel tells the story of a young woman who is forced into sexual servitude for a couple unable to have children on their own. Parents at a Texan high school demanded that the book be banned thanks to sexual content and the negative portrayal of religion. Far from being a dangerous novel, this is a book that everyone, especially young women, should be encouraged to read. Atwood’s novel is becoming scarily more relevant so if you’ve not read it yet then I implore you to do so.

5. 1984 by George Orwell

I could easily have picked another George Orwell book for this list and, very nearly, did go with Animal Farm instead. Although, arguably 1984 is George Owell’s most famous novel and it is also one of the most challenged books in literary history. The story of a dystopian future in which all human activity is monitored by a totalitarian government has been seen as subversive or ideologically corrupting. It was banned in Russia and the UK and US for years. Orwell’s novel is a must read for anyone who hasn’t already.

6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This novel is such a loved classic that it’s hard to imagine anyone hating it. Of course, this is why we can’t have nice things. Harper Lee’s classic novel tells the story of a white lawyer defending a black man accused of rape. It has been the subject of many challenges in school thanks to its use of racial slurs, profanity and sexual content. As with the other books on this list, To Kill a Mockingbird is a great novel that has a great deal to teach people that aren’t too narrow-minded to see it. Far from being dangerous, Lee has a great to say about racism and the role of race in society. I read this at school at a young age and I’m glad I did. I may not have fully understood it then, I think this is a book children (and adults) everywhere should get to read.

7. Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved by Toni Morrison is an award winning novel. It has won countless literary prizes, including the Pulitzer. It is the heartbreaking story of slavery and racism in the US and the tale of a mother coming to terms with the death of her child. It is a beautifully written and haunting tale of undoubted literary and social worth. However, it is still being challenged for its depictions violence and racism, its sexual contents and for scenes in which bestiality is discussed. This is another book that you should get your hands on as soon as possible. Morrison is a great writer and this novel is one that will stick with you forever. 

8. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

It’s widely accepted by most people that Brave New World is a literary classic. Aldous Huxley’s tale shows the dangers of a society that has become too comfortable with artificial comforts. Huxley’s future is far from bright and represents the worst of mankind. As such, it has been banned for its strong language, sexual content and, in Ireland, for its comments against religion. In India, Huxley was even branded as a pornographer. Again, this isn’t the kind of statement that would necessarily stop people wanting to read this book.

9. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

Fairly ironically, Ray Bradbury’s cautionary tale about the dangerous of book banning has faced its own controversy. The novel shows a futuristic society that burns all books for being dangerous. In the real world, Ray Bradbury’s book is seen as containing questionable language and themes. In 1953, a school gave their students copies of the book after the, supposedly, obscene words had been blacked out.

10. Tropic Of Cancer by Henry Miller,

What do you associate most with Henry Miller? If you said sex then you’ve obviously heard of Henry Miller. Tropic of Cancer follows a young struggling writer’s sexual encounters and has, obviously, been banned thanks to its sexual content. The book was first published in France in 1934 and wasn’t allowed to be released in the US until 1961. However. even then, booksellers were faced with lawsuits for selling the book. After the Supreme Court declared the book was not classed as obscene, it was delightfully described by a Pennsylvania judge as ‘an open sewer, a pit of putrefaction, a slimy gathering of all that is rotten in the debris of human depravity’. I mean if that doesn’t make you want to read this book then I honestly don’t know what will. 

11. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Erich Maria Remarque is a German veteran of the First World War and his novel is an unflinching portrayal of the brutality of the conflict. It describes the physical pain and mental stress that German soldiers faced during the war, and the alienation felt by many upon returning home. It was banned in Germany from 1933 and was burned under the Nazi for being unpatriotic. However, Remarque’s work is considered to be one of the greatest portrayals of World War 1 to have been written.

12. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is Maya Angelou’s  about the early years of her life. It is a coming-of-age story that sees Maya grow into a confident young women despite her traumatic life. She depicts her struggles with racism and being sexual assaulted as a young girl. This is an important piece of literature that discusses identity, racism, literacy, and, most importantly, the role of women. However, schools and parents alike have banned the book thanks to its use of profanity, sexual content, and its discussion of religion. The book is, for the most part, critically acclaimed and the most popular of Angelou’s autobiographies.

13. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

The Satanic Verses is another of those banned books stories that has gone down in literary history. Salman Rushdie’s novel was inspired in part by the life of the Prophet Mohammed. It was such a controversial book that Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini placed a fatwa on Rushdie’s head. It also resulted in the death of the Japanese translator and the attempted murder of both an Italian translator and a Norwegian publisher. The book’s publication sparked violent riots across the world and is banned in many Muslim majority countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

14. Ulysses by James Joyce

Now, I tried to read Ulysses a few years ago but only made it the end of the first chapter. Upon finishing the opening I realised that I had no idea what had just happened. I decided, instead of going back to the start, that I would store it away for another day. That day never came. Joyce’s novel is an oft confusing tome of great literary standing. So, I find it difficult to believe that enough people have finished the book in order to find something to complain about but they have. References to masturbation in the novel have meant it has been categorised as obscene and radical. It was banned in both the UK and the US for years. 500 copies of the book were burned in New York. Now, if anything is going to make me finish this damn book it’s going to be avenging those copies that were turned to ash. 

15. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

If there’s one thing this list has taught us, it’s that America is a weird place. Salinger’s tale of teenage angst and self-discovery is a staple on high school syllabuses all over the US. It is also the most banned books in American schools. Talk about a weird contrast. Salinger’s tale is full of profanity, violence and sexual content that, supposedly, teenagers shouldn’t be introduced to. Of course, proclaiming a book to be morally questionable is definitely going to stop teenagers trying to read it, right? Right? Now, I can’t claim to love this book but a lot of people around the world adore it. If you’re of the right age then I could potentially see why you would love it but I never got the whole adoration thing. Still, it deserves a place on this list.

TBT – Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

America, Anthony Mackie, films, fucking awful, fucking ridiculous, president, reviews, TBT, vampire

When Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter came out in cinemas I was super excited to see it because, you know, Abraham Lincoln and vampire hunting. Of course, I couldn’t find anyone who shared my interest in it so I never got to see it in the cinema. After all, it’s not the kind of film you should really see alone. I think it would have said a bit too much about me as a person. Then, as time went by, I forgot about this film and never saw it at all. And, to be quite honest, the dismal Pride and Prejudice and zombies hadn’t really convinced me that mixing fantasy with period drama was a very good idea. Normally, I love a bit of altered history but does it need vampires? Especially at a time when vampires had been ruined thanks to the god-awful Twilight films. Added to that, I’ve never been convinced that Dominic Cooper was a necessary addition to any cast list. No matter how many times my friend tries to convince me that he’s fantastic. He just seems a bit smug and gets a lot of freedom down to his looks. He’s like a male Keira Knightley… but nowhere near as good looking or posh. Still, In need of an Abraham Lincoln film to accompany Tuesday’s Lincoln in the Bardo review, I decided it was time to watch it. After all, I felt like Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln from the same year would be a bit heavier than I was really ready for in the middle of my week off. Maybe it would have been appropriate coming after the announcement that the actor is set to retire from acting? Of course, I hadn’t thought of that until this moment… so, the crazy vampire story it is.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is exactly the kind of film that I hoped it would be. It does exactly what it says on the tin and shows us what history would have been like if Honest Abe had dedicated his pre-politics life to hunting vampires. In this version of events, a young Abraham saves his friend, William Johnson (Anthony Mackie), from being beaten by a vicious slaver. The incident winds up with Abraham’s father losing his job and being forced to repay a debt he couldn’t pay. To settle the debt, the slaver (Marton Csokas), who also happens to be a vampire, kills Abe’s mother, an incident which is witnessed by the boy himself. Years later, adult Abraham (Benjamin Walker) vows revenge against the murderer but, obviously, finds the task difficult when he finds out the man is already dead.

Thankfully, the young man is approached by the mysterious Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper) who offers to train Abraham to fight vampires if he promises to give up his future and follow Struges’ instructions to the letter. Desperate for revenge, Abe says yes but finds the years of fighting random vampires, with his trusty silver plated axe, unfulfilling. Eventually he meets and falls in love with Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and becomes a politician. Although, just because Lincoln hangs up his axe doesn’t mean the vampires are done with him. Apparently, vampires have a vested interest in slavery because slaves make the tastiest meals. With unkillable monsters fighting with the South, Lincoln must find a way to rid the world of these beasts whilst also freeing their dinner.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was more enjoyable than I’d given it credit for but it should not be mistaken for a decent film. If all you are after is a mindless, action heavy film that tries to teach you about history then it’s perfect. There are plenty of gruesome moments, slow-motion fighting, explosions, and really terrible CGI to keep you mildly entertained. It’s an incredibly silly film that manages to stay on track by pretending it’s more serious than it is. Anyone who sees this film and complains that it’s ludicrous is even more insane than the film. This is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and it’s not ashamed of that. There is a dichotomy within the title itself that is played up within the narrative. It attempts to mix vampires with history and politics and, if I’m honest, it barely manages to do any of them.

The fact that Vampire Hunter takes itself so seriously means it elevates itself slightly. It doesn’t try and purposefully play everything for laughs, which would only have ended being hugely cringe-inducing. Instead it is a silly film that never overplays it’s silliness. It knows it’s a shit film but it won’t let that stop it trying to be a great film. All of the actors do tremendous jobs at keeping things straight and letting the natural comedy fly. It’s not the kind of thing that everyone will love and it does get tiresome as we get further into Lincoln’s politics. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this film. It won’t tell you anything about Lincoln, the Civil War, or how to make a film about them but it delivers on the title. Lincoln was a grave man so it seems only fair that this film treated him with that same solemnity. It’s crazy but, if you have a weird love of bad films, you’ll find yourself getting hooked. If it had perhaps been a tad shorter then it would have been ideal.

Tuesday’s Review: Jackie (2016)

America, films, fucking beautiful, fucking tragic, history, John Hurt, natalie portman, president, real life, review

I have to be honest, if it hadn’t been for John Hurt’s death last month I probably wasn’t ever going to see this film. It wasn’t that I thought it would be bad but it discussed a prominent American figure that, really, I didn’t know a great deal about. I mean I know enough about Jackie Kennedy but, when it comes down to it, my knowledge of American history is pretty limited. It’s probably something I should rectify but my historical education really just focused on the United Kingdom. Although, I guess everyone knows about JFK, Jackie, and the assassination. However, the name Jackie Kennedy only really brought images of pink Chanel suits and pillbox hats to my mind so I didn’t really see much need in seeing Natalie Portman playing her on screen. Then, we heard the tragic news about John Hurt’s death in January. Jackie was one of his final films before his death so I decided it was a good reason to see the film. John Hurt was one of the finest actor’s around and could turn his hand to any part. Yes, he wasn’t a traditional leading man but he has been a significant part of some great films. I can think of worse reasons to want to watch something.

I was worried when Jackie started and I first heard Natalie Portman speak. I had the horrible feeling that her attempt to emulate Jackie Kennedy’s soft spoken and breathy accent was quickly going to descend into a terrible parody. Thankfully, the actor manages to keep a hole on her mimicry and keeps the vocals situated in something resembling reality. It all adds to the character of Jackie Kennedy that director Pablo Larraín is attempting to capture. A woman who, having already been catapulted into the spotlight, suddenly finds herself having to deal with the ultimate tragedy whilst the whole world watches her. The wife of the President of the United States who is caught between a state of mourning, helplessness, and desperation to preserve her husband’s legacy. To prove me extra wrong, Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Jackie is absolutely brilliant.

The film’s narrative is framed by an interview Jackie gave to Life magazine reporter Theodore H White (Billy Crudup). As the interview takes place Kennedy makes it clear that she will have ultimate control over what is printed and she wants her husband to be remembered the way she thinks he should be. She is a woman who is perfectly in control. Until she relives the horrific moment when her husband was shot twice as he sat next to her. She breaks down as she remembers trying to keep the contents of his head from spilling over her lap. This, obviously, is the kind of thing that she does not give approval to be printed. Jackie takes the public figure that everyone things they know and show the emotionally lost person underneath.

The story flits back and forth between Jackie’s life before and after the assassination. We see her conduct a television tour of the White House and it is a different image of the First Lady. She is unsure of herself and self-conscious. She attempts to justify her redecoration of her new home in order to bring a sense of history. She wants to surround herself with beautiful and significant things. Something that her husband and potentially the American people just don’t understand. She wants to present her husband and his presidency as she thinks it needs to be remembered. This is the age where television gives everyone an eyewitness account of every moment so she understands the importance of her performance.

The narrative then jumps around between the days after the President was killed, whilst Jackie tried to arrange a funeral on the same level as Lincoln, and in the future when Jackie speaks with a Priest (John Hurt) about her fears and doubts. Really, these different narrative aren’t necessary as the most important and stand-out sections occur in the aftermath of JFK’s death and Jackie’s desperate attempts to get her own way with the funeral. The time when she has to wrestle with the public image of a grieving wife, the statesmen like role of the First Lady, and lost woman who has no idea what her life will become now her husband is dead. The woman who has become synonymous with her looks is unable to find order within her wardrobe. In fact, the most memorable scene is the one in which a numb Jackie peels off the infamous pink Chanel suit and tights that are covered in her husband’s blood. It is a devastating and poignant scene.

As with all of these types of biopics, you won’t rid yourself of the sense that the reality on show still isn’t being completely truthful. However, the narrative opens up the figure of Jackie Kennedy beyond what was on show during her public life. It gives you the chance to view her from a perspective that you may not have considered and, thanks to the great performance by Natalie Portman, presents her in a measured and understanding way. The film is a stark look into an important and difficult time for both the Kennedy family and America. With a great supporting cast, including a short but memorable turn from the late John Hurt, and an incredibly haunting score from Mica Levi, Jackie is a film that I’m so grateful I took the time to watch. It would have been a shame to have missed such a wonderful film.