What happen with the showcases Natalie Portman

“Jackie” is a profile in courage.

Its hero doesn’t carry a gun. She isn’t even in uniform — unless you count the pink suit and pillbox hat.

But she does wage a war, for her husband’s legacy, and to hasten her country’s healing in the aftermath of his death.

Natalie Portman stars as Jackie Kennedy in a film that looks at the worst four days in her life — from a Friday in Dallas that ends with her cradling her dying husband, to a Monday in Washington that begins with his funeral procession.

Portman’s been a committed, in-the-moment actress since she was a skinny kid running after “Leon: The Professional” but “Jackie” is an accomplishment on the Oscar-winning order of “Black Swan.” She gets the former First Lady’s breathy voice, her quiet style — and ever-present, barely-held-in-check nervousness.

And Pablo Larrain’s movie shows just what the real Jackie Kennedy had to deal with that November — a new President itchy to take over, powerful in-laws who had their own idea on how to grieve and a nation

Best movie review for this month

There’s little originality scared up by “The Monster,” but that doesn’t make director Bryan Bertino’s horror flick easier to watch through the gaps in your fingers.

What elevates the story of a mother and daughter stalked by the titular creature after their car breaks down is the acting of Zoe Kazan and her on-screen child, Ella Ballentine (“Anne of Green Gables”).

Much of the film’s 90 minutes of running time is padded out by flashbacks to explain the domestic breakdown that led them to break down on that particular stretch of road.

There’s little originality scared up by “The Monster,” but that doesn’t make director Bryan Bertino’s horror flick easier to watch through the gaps in your fingers.

What elevates the story of a mother and daughter stalked by the titular creature after their car breaks down is the acting of Zoe Kazan and her on-screen child, Ella Ballentine (“Anne of Green Gables”).

Much of the film’s 90 minutes of running time is padded out by flashbacks to explain the domestic breakdown that led them to break

Musical flop on movie reviews

Everybody gets the fact that after a dream comes true it can still fall apart. And then what? That’s the intriguing question answered in the affecting, but uneven documentary “Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened.”

Co-written and directed by Lonny Price, the film revisits Stephen Sondheim’s 1981 musical flop “Merrily We Roll Along.” Any theater nerd knows the cautionary tale that producers tell their children at bedtime. Price’s documentary covers the show’s creation, shocking failure and far- and long-reaching aftershocks.

Price knows his subject. He was one of the stars in the show and like other wide-eyed castmates 35 years ago, including a pre-“Seinfeld” Jason Alexander, felt like he’d hit the jackpot at the time. No wonder. The musical marked the latest new collaboration of composer-lyricist Sondheim and director Hal Prince, each riding high after a decade of hits. Among them, “Company.” D.A. Pennebaker’s fascinating 1970 doc covered the recording of that show’s cast album.

The musical “Merrily,” like the play it’s based on, is told in reverse. Disillusioned and corrupted middle-aged friends become their younger,

Drama Live By Night

“Live by Night” is barely breathing.

A slow, stubbornly serious period picture, it’s Ben Affleck’s attempt to bring back the old Warner Bros. gangster films, with him stepping in for Jimmy Cagney. It’s got Prohibition and speakeasies, flappers and Tommy guns.

It still shoots blanks.

Affleck, who also directed, plays the disgraced son of a Boston police chief. A strong-arm guy with a prison record, he takes it on the lam to Tampa, where he starts running rum for the Mafia.

And also takes up with a smuggler’s sister, while running afoul of a fire-and-brimstone lady preacher.

On paper, it sounds like there’s a lot going on here – “The Roaring Twenties” crossed with Al Pacino’s “Scarface” and a bit of “Elmer Gantry.”

On the screen, it’s a lot less.

Although Affleck’s been a decent director – capturing real local color in “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town,” building tension nicely in “Argo” – his work here is dim and dull. “Live by Night” may be about rum, but the pacing is like molasses.

And as its glum leading man, the star never shines. He has none of the lethal charm – or dangerous unpredictability – that would make a character like this worth watching. Instead of a

Adam Driver a small treasure on movie reviews

“Paterson” is poetic.

Pardon the alliteration, but Jim Jarmusch’s film starring Adam Driver is an ode to the simplicity of everyday life. It also conjures the same dreamy quality of the verses penned by its titular bus driver, who shares a name with the New Jersey town he calls home.

The movie follows Paterson for a week as he wakes up every day to his beautiful wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), an unemployed artist, and his English bulldog, Marvin. He leaves his small house for work at the bus depot, where he jots down poems before he starts his route. In between, he hears pourings of woe from his miserable shift supervisor.

When Paterson writes, his words scrawl across the screen as Driver’s voiceover speaks the verses, lending them an ethereal quality. Ordinary conversations and chance encounters that fill Paterson’s days inform his poems — he finds beauty in the mundane.

Jarmusch invites viewers to do the same. Paterson’s routine, which includes nightly walks with Marvin to the neighborhood watering hole, borders on repetitive but remains captivating.

“Paterson” is filled with moments and interactions that seem like they’re headed toward drama but take a different route. And even though it’s set in the present day, Paterson’s

Inspiring drama from director Ken Loach

If you’ve ever dealt with bureaucratic red tape — even if that merely means a simple trip to the DMV — then you’ll relate to the title character in the truly moving and special British drama “I, Daniel Blake.”

A carpenter by trade, middle-aged Daniel (Dave Johns) has been unable to work after suffering a heart attack on the job. He is relying on government benefits to survive, but he finds it’s far more difficult to get them than it should be.

As he’s evaluated by a social worker we get a sense of frustrations and his cynical wit and how angry he is about not being able to work.

Daniel is also one of those people who doesn’t own and has never used a computer, so when he learns how much he has to do online to get his benefits, it becomes even more frustrating for him.

Acclaimed filmmaker Ken Loach is a master at capturing the day-to-day of British life, and this film, which won the coveted Palm D’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival, is no exception. That said, it may be easier for some to decipher the heavy British accents than others.

It’s heartbreaking at times to watch Blake’s plight, but

Not even close to holiday treat

All I want for Christmas is my two hours back.

Over the course of five long days, the large ensemble cast of David E. Talbert’s “Almost Christmas” fights, crashes a car, cooks, cheats, fights, runs for congress, fights and, of course, reconciles.

The overdrawn cliché circles around the Meyers family’s first Christmas without their mother and Walter’s (Danny Glover) wife- a decent if not somewhat overdone movie premise.

But, as far as this season’s comedies go, “Almost Christmas” is one audiences can skip.

Gabrielle Union, who also executive produced the film, is laughable in the sense that someone, including herself, thought her lines felt the least bit natural. Each overused phrase that falls out of her character, Rachel’s, vindictive, childish mouth takes viewers further out of the movie experience. She’s frustrating in her immaturity and unbelievable as a mother. Union is somehow old enough to have an adolescent daughter but she’s still in school, is still upset with her neighbor over a high school misunderstanding, but she’s also a divorcee.

Her pretentious sister, Cheryl, played by Kimberly Elise is a successful medical professional (it’s unclear in which field, exactly), and is implausibly married to raging buffoon, JB Smoove. Cheryl and Rachel hate each other, again

Liam Neeson branch out as a tree

Liam Neeson gives voice to a giant walking tree monster in “A Monster Calls,” an emotional and dark fairy tale from Spanish filmmaker Juan Bayona (“The Impossible”).

Adapted by Patrick Ness from his book based on an idea by his late author friend Siobhan Dowd, it’s the story of a young boy named Conor O’Malley, who is having a tough time. Plagued by nightmares, he’s being bullied in school and his mother (Felicity Jones) is dying of cancer, which forces Conor to move in with his grandmother (Sigourney Weaver), who has very strict rules that just make things tougher for the lad. One night at exactly 12:07 AM, the giant tree that overlooks a distant church cemetery comes to life and offers Conor three stories in exchange for one of his own. Conor is not easily convinced, and understandably has other things on his mind.

If you were disappointed by Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG,” then “A Monster Calls” covers similar ground in a way far less targeted towards children. It has a similar storybook feel with each of the tree’s fairy tale stories illustrated by gorgeously vivid animation, as they’re told in Neeson’s gruff voice.

Despite the child protagonist and fantasy elements, “A

Jennifer Lawrence and Chris on movie reviews

I don’t do spoilers. But “Passengers” spoils itself.

An expensive sci-fi romance, the movie stars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt as civilian space travelers. Off to help colonize a new world, they wake up accidentally, 90 years early, with only each other for company.

That’s the way the trailers sell it, anyway.

The facts of their wake-up calls, though, are a little different. Actually, a lot different. And when they’re revealed, half an hour in or so, they change everything, especially how we feel about one of the characters.

“Passengers” has been made with a great deal of care. Its shiny spaceship has an interesting shape — all half-circles and tubes. Its interior design mimics a gigantic cruise-ship’s — small cabins, theme restaurants, a shopping mall.

With such a limited cast, charisma is important — and present. Pratt draws on all his regular-bro charm. Lawrence invests a thinly written character with a lot of her own passion and anger and pain.

“Passengers” is also part of a good trend — a sci-fi movie about being smart. Like “Arrival,” “The Martian” and “Interstellar, it’s a story that sets up a problem — and then gets its drama out of people solving it. There isn’t a murderous alien

Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal

They only come out at night.

Dirtbags, lowlifes, predators — they’re just some of the dangerous beasts that “Nocturnal Animals” focuses on.

But there are other things that live in the dark, too: self-doubt, nagging regret, the sense that somehow, somewhere, things went wrong.

And those can be even scarier monsters.

“Nocturnal Animals” is directed by the fashion designer Tom Ford and it looks beautiful in a way that glossy ads are. Jake Gyllenhaal is hunky (and, as usual, briefly shirtless). Amy Adams is as pretty and perfect as a doll.

She’s just as cold, though. And so is the film.

Because this is a movie about all the ways we hurt each other. And although sometimes it’s through vicious violence, sometimes it’s in subtler, nastier, icier ways.

And now Edward has a novel coming out, which he wants Susan to read. It’s a gruesome thriller about a too-nice guy who gets caught up in a carjacking, and sees his wife and child brutally abducted.

But why, after almost 20 years, did Edward send Susan this book? And why is it really dedicated to her?

Those are Susan’s first questions and they’ll be answered, eventually — although not in the way she wants.

But first we have to make our

All about film electrical workers

Director David Hackl’s “Life on the Line” is supposed to be a moving story about men working electrical lines. Viewers, however, might require a high-voltage shock just to endure it.

The action/drama film, which premiered at the Napa Valley Film Festival a year ago, has an impressive cast headlined by John Travolta, Kate Bosworth and Sharon Stone.

But the script, written by Primo Brown, Marvin Peart and Peter I. Horton, is a complete and utter melodramatic bore.

Shockingly predictable and formulaic, perhaps the only saving grace is Jeff Toyne’s appropriate music.

It starts off promising, at least conceptually, but resorts to well-trodden conventions of the genre and overly effusive scenes, with a rape premise horribly woven in.

While Travolta and Bosworth, playing the lead characters of Beau and Bailey, respectively, deliver admirable performances, the story they’re working under is just not up to snuff.

The production values are mediocre and the story surprisingly veers away from a lineman’s day-to-day routine, but director Hackl and the writing team did at least conceive a versatile character in Beau, though he too gets pulled into the melodrama on occasion.

“Life on the Line” is a film that probably won’t hold your attention throughout its 97-minute running time, but it is,

Patriots Day starring Mark Wahlberg rings false

Mark Wahlberg’s new vehicle purports to tell the story of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. While “Patriots Day” works in some ways, especially in its intriguing blow-by-blow of the events before and after the attack, the film is ham-fisted. It works so hard to evoke a sense of teary patriotism it leaves behind a grimy feeling.

The problems start with Wahlberg’s character, Sgt. Tommy Saunders. This cop manages to be at the bombing site, FBI investigator’s strategy meetings in a command center, and a Mobil station where he helps rescue the bombers’ hostage. He also pops up at the shootout with the suspects, and the final apprehension of the surviving suspect. He’s everywhere.

But there was no real Tommy Saunders. A composite character with a bum knee, he’s meant to be an homage to the many Boston cops who worked the case. This becomes confusing and annoying because most of the rest of the characters are based on real individuals —  people, including Boston Mayor Thomas Menino (Vincent Curatola), Police Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman) and lead FBI investigator Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon). A composite character can work, but I felt manipulated and was distracted by Saunders’ Zelig-ness.

Another major distraction were the

Marks upcoming auteur to behold on movie reviews

Halloween may be behind us, but those still looking for jarringly disturbing filmmaking should appreciate Nicolas Pesce’s directorial debut.

Shot completely in black and white, “The Eyes of My Mother” follows Francisca, a young girl living in seclusion on a remote farm with her eye surgeon mother and farmer father. After her mother is murdered by an armed stranger, Francisca (Olivia Bond) is left alone with her father (Paul Nazak), who chains his wife’s murderer in the barn. After her father dies, Francisca keeps his corpse around for company, making it obvious that seeing her mother’s murder has left Francisca quite disturbed.

Told in three distinct sections, “The Eyes of My Mother” follows Francisca as she grows up and takes up her own hobbies — like doing unspeakable things to that stranger in the barn.

Kika Magalhaes, who plays the older version of Francisca, is quite an amazing find. The camera is captivated by her, whether she is doing mundane things or randomly murdering anyone who follows her home. The tone and delivery of her scarce dialogue is quite distinct.

Certainly, parallels can be drawn between Pesce’s film and horror classics from Hitchcock’s “Psycho” to “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.” The opening scene