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This Week On Blu-ray: ‘Jackie’ and ‘Moana’

Jackie

jackiebluraybox“Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” is one of the many powerful lines from the popular Broadway musical Hamilton, and it’s the type of question that also hangs over Pablo Larraín’s haunting, hypnotic Jackie. In the days following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, his widow takes control of her husband’s legacy. As an ambulance drives the slain president’s body to the autopsy, the First Lady asks the driver: “Do you know who James A. Garfield was? How about William McKinley? What did they do?” The driver doesn’t know, and Jackie informs him that they were both presidents assassinated while in office. “How about Abraham Lincoln?” Jackie asks. The driver obviously knows who Lincoln was. Mrs. Kennedy then requests several books on Lincoln’s funeral procession. Her husband was, in her estimation, a great man. And, like Lincoln, he deserves a great funeral.

Natalie Portman plays Jacqueline Kennedy and delivers, without question, the best performance of her career. Adopting Mrs. Kennedy’s breathy voice and socialite accent, Ms. Portman dissolves into the role. She occupies almost every frame of Larraín’s film, and we are captivated every step of the way. Jackie is not a biopic, but rather a glimpse into a few terrible days in Jackie Kennedy’s life; days filled with many questions and few answers; days where she washes her husband’s blood from her hair and sets about enshrining the man’s growing legend.

Ms. Portman has long been a marvelous actress, but under every performance there was always the indication that it was still Portman up on the screen. Not so with Jackie. It’s the type of performance that will not simply be admired, but also dissected and studied for years to come. With this film, Portman transcends herself, embodying not so much the real Jackie Kennedy but rather the public’s perception of the famous First Lady.

Perception, and myth making, are at the heart of Jackie. So much media about the Kennedy’s is centered on conspiracy theories, or scandal. This film has no use for that — it strips away the lore and gets to the humanity underneath: the Kennedy’s dancing at the White House like the young couple they were; Jackie sobbing and clearing the blood off her face on Air Force One. Then once it tears down all the myth making, Jackie herself builds it back up. “People like to believe in fairy tales,” she says.

The special features on the Jackie Blu-ray include: “From Jackie to Camelot Featurette”, “Audio Commentary by Pablo Larraín and Natalie Portman (Only available on Digital HD) • Gallery


Moana

moana blu

While many got caught up in Zootopia fever last year, if you ask me, Moana is the animated Disney film that deserved the most love. This film is just a delight, and it actually gets better each time you revisit it. Disney makes the traditional seem fresh with Moana, a bright, beautiful, emotional adventure tale that takes your standard “hero’s journey” narrative and transports it to new places. Teenager Moana (voiced perfectly by Auli’i Cravalho) is destined to become the chief of her island of Motunui. There’s a whole big ocean out there, but the people of Motunui don’t dare go beyond the reef, much to Moana’s frustration. She’s beset with wanderlust, and while her Gramma Tala (Rachel House) encourages Moana’s dreams of travel, her father sternly rebukes them.

When a curse befalls the bountiful island, however, Moana bucks tradition and takes to the sea (accompanied by a lovable, dimwitted rooster named Heihei) on a quest to find Maui (Dwayne Johnson, his trademark charisma coming through loud and clear in animated form), a shape-shifting demigod replete with a tapestry of living tattoos. Only Maui can restore the mythical “heart of Te Fiti,” and bring prosperity back to Motunui and beyond.

Moana isn’t Disney at their most original, but it is Disney at their best. It’s vibrant, focused and has a rather simple, but important, message: learning who you are, and what you’re meant to do, by remembering what you’ve already done. The film’s climactic conflict isn’t solved with violence or a battle of wits, but with a simple statement: “You know who you are.” Sometimes that’s exactly the type of message we need to hear.

There are a boatload of features packed into the Moana Blu-ray release:

• Theatrical Short Film: Inner Workings
With introduction by the filmmakers, it is the story of the internal struggle between a man’s Brain – a pragmatic protector who calculates his every move, and his Heart – a free-spirited adventurer who wants to let loose.
• Maui Mini-Movie: Gone Fishing
When Maui decides it’s time to take charge of the ocean and catch his next meal, Moana must show him the error of his ways…with a little help from her friends!
• Voice of the Islands
An in-depth look at the powerful influence the heritage of the islands had in shaping the story and how the people and their culture inspired the filmmakers to create this authentic tale.
• Things You Didn’t Know About…
Meet the stars of Moana in this dynmaic Q&A featuring Dwyane Johnson, newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, famed animation Directors Ron & John.
• Things You Didn’t Know About…
Meet the stars behind Moana in this dynmaic Q&A featuring musicians Opetaia Foa’I, Mark Mancina and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
• Island Fashion
Find out how costume designer Neysa Bove soved the unique challenge of creating all the costumes using only materials and techniques native to the islands of Oceania.
• They Know the Way: Making the Music of Moana
Musicians Opetaia Foa’I, Mark Mancina and Lin-Manuel Miranda take us on a personal journey through their involvement in the movie and how it changed their lives.
• Fishing for Easter Eggs
Dive deep into the ocean and fish for the Easter Eggs hidden by the animators at Disney Animation Studios.
• Fact or Fiction
This high-energy graphic piece will explore the elements of the movie that are real and ones that were created for cinematic purposes.
• The Elements Of…
This series of 4 mini-docs explores the technical achievements behind some of the ground-breaking effects of the film.
• Mini-Maui: Meet Maui’s “Sidekick” who lives within the traditional tattoos on his body. Animated by legendry hand-drawn animator Eric Goldberg we explore how the 2d world collides with CG animation to bring the Demigod’s tattoos to life.
• The Elements Of…
This series of 4 mini-docs explores the technical achievements behind some of the ground-breaking effects of the film.
• Water: In the movie, the ocean is a character. This piece looks into how the water is given a personality along with the technical feats of creating a believable ocean landscape further than the eyes can see.
• The Elements Of…
This series of 4 mini-docs explores the technical achievements behind some of the ground-breaking effects of the film.
• Lava: The big bad of the movie, Ta Ka, is a creature made of lava, smoke and fire. This piece dives into the challenges of making an animated creature of massive scale brought to firey life by character, technical and effects animators.
• The Elements Of…
This series of 4 mini-docs explores the technical achievements behind some of the ground-breaking effects of the film.
• Hair: One of the greatest technical achievements on the film was the animation of the beautiful-curly hair on Moana and Maui. Take a look at the hair-rasing detail that goes into animating each strand adding performance to the movie that has never been seen before.
• Deleted Song: “”Warrior Face””
With introduction by songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda
• Deleted Scenes
With introductions by Ron & John.
• Race The Wind/Ties That Bind
• Discussing Moana’s Future
• Under The Sea
• Grandmother’s Warning/Legend Of Maui
• Education Of Moana
• Father, Daughter, Boat
• Canoe Race
• Music Video
“”How Far I’ll Go”” Performed by Alessia Cara
• “”How Far I’ll Go”” Around the World
Multi-Language Reel of the song “How Far I’ll Go”.
• Audio Commentary
With Directors Ron & John.

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Chris Evangelista is the Executive Editor of Cut Print Film & co-host of the Cut Print Film Podcast. He also contributes to /Film, The Film Stage, Birth.Movies.Death, The Playlist, Paste Magazine, Little White Lies and O-Scope Musings. 'The House on Creep Street' and 'Beware the Monstrous Manther!', two horror books for young readers Chris co-authored with J. Tonzelli, are available wherever books are sold. You can follow him on Twitter @cevangelista413 and view his portfolio at chrisevangelista.net

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