Influx Magazine publishes reviews of “Jackie,” “Fences,” and “Passengers” from lead critic Steve Pulaski



Natalie Portman’s researched and embodiment of Jackie Kennedy is a terrific performance in search of a worthy film to accompany it, and that film isn’t Pablo Larraín’s Jackie, regardless of how impressive it is in a minor sense. Written by Noah Oppenheim, whose credentials include adaptations of young adult novels such as The Maze Runner and The Divergent Series: Allegiant, the film is takes place over a variety of different time-periods, and while the periods themselves effortlessly captivate thanks to the rich history and detail Larraín and company bring, this is a narratively muddled film that shows its wear and tear far too early on.


The dialog in Denzel Washington’s adaptation of August Wilson’s classic play Fences is basically stripped from the actual source material, which was also used for the Broadway play Washington and actress Viola Davis starred in during its run. I knew before seeing Washington’s film I had to read the play and I was captivated by its raw and real dialog, which not only paints the picture of an average and probably common family dynamic, but also the struggles of the African-American community so tenderly and authentically.


Passengers opens by telling us the sleekly designed, immaculately detailed spaceship we are on is the Starship Avalon and it’s on a 120-year voyage to a planet known as Homestead II. With over 5,000 people from Earth in tow, its passengers are in a hibernation-induced sleep, intended for them to stay sedated until they near Homestead when an unheard of malfunction results in a mechanical engineer named Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) awaking only thirty years into the trip. Jim wanders aimlessly through the spacecraft, scared and alone, his only solace being the companionship of a humanoid bartender named Arthur (Michael Sheen in a delightfully charming role), who serves him whiskey and offers him inspirational small-talk, but little emotional resonance.


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