Film Reviews: Split, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Jackie, Short Term 12 and Patriots Day

Here’s a look at the some of the movies our Oxford Stories reporters are watching. Do you agree with their film reviews?

Tyler Evans
Oxford Stories

Split  – I watched the movie “Split,” starring James McAvoy, who has dissociative identity disorder. With this disorder, people have at least two clear personality states known as alters. The personalities have different emotions, reactions, and body functions. The person has no control over the alters inside them.

James, known as Kevin in the movie, has 23 alters that all have different personalities and emotions. In the beginning of the movie, Kevin kidnaps three girls with the goal of developing his 24th alter known as “the beast.” Each alter takes its turn in “the light,” which is where one personality takes over while the rest are dormant. Some of Kevin’s alters work together to plan the making of “the beast,” which is most of the storyline.

Andranita Williams
Oxford Stories

Hidden Figures – It’s the story of three women who played major roles in the advancement of the United States in the race to space. It is also the story of three African American female mathematicians who worked for NASA. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson all served as masterminds behind one of America’s greatest achievements that launched John Glenn into orbit.

The cast included Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae. The realism placed viewers into the era of this film. It gave them insight into the time period. The cast, wardrobe, and past all contributed to the success of this movie.

While most documentaries spit out facts from the past that enhance your knowledge, this film increases one’s knowledge while also adding a great deal of enthusiasm. I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone seeking a fun, yet educational adventure.

Margaret Wallace
Oxford Stories

La La Land – I honestly cannot recall the last time I sat down and really watched a film. Sure, I watch Netflix and Hulu just like everyone else, but there are so many other forms of media readily available at all times, that I rarely watch a movie and actually pay attention.

I chose to watch a movie I have been truly excited to see, “La La Land,” starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. This film created a ton of buzz in Hollywood and on the award scene before it was released. However, the trailer, while very well edited, offers little insight into what the premise of the movie actually is. Perhaps the mystery of what this film is about and what is so special about it is what intrigued me so much.

After watching the film, only one word comes to mind – nostalgia. I felt as though I was transported back to a time when movies really made you connect with and feel for the characters. The musical aspect of the film was so raw, and it flowed smoothly into the plot, while still making a statement. The plot did not feel forced, while it seamlessly recreated classic Hollywood movie styles in such a modern and relatable way.

Unlike most movies released in the last few years, I did not know what to expect from the plot, or what was going to happen next. It was truly the perfect fusion of a modern love story and old Hollywood style glamour.

Arien Canales
Oxford Stories

Jackie – I saw the movie “Jackie” over the weekend. I wanted to see it for a while, but I have also noticed it has only been playing in select theaters. I thought it was strange, because it seemed like a high profile movie with well-known actors.

As the movie played, I realized why it could be only playing in select cities. The film was controversial in how it portrayed Jackie Kennedy. The presidency and incidents regarding JFK happened well before my time, but I did not think of Jackie Kennedy as unstable and mentally ill like the movie portrayed her.

The movie takes place in the Kennedy estate where Jackie has invited a reporter to document her “real story.” Throughout the interview, Jackie tells the reporter a personal and detailed story about the aftermath of the shooting and how she handled it, but there is a catch. She has full control over what the journalist can publish, and she gives him very little to work with.

The movie showed different sides of Jackie. In one scene, she is filming a show for the country to have a peek into the White House. During the tour, her voice sounds different, and she is extremely nervous and acting ditsy. Then, the film reveals a woman who seems to always try to keep it together, and doesn’t shed a tear when the public is watching.

Throughout the movie, she smokes a lot and remains paranoid about her future. In one scene, she talks about selling the White House furniture to get her two children through school. She is also very paranoid throughout the film because she is worried about her husband being forgotten. She seems to grieve by planning an extravagant and very public funeral for the late president.

I believe the movie was trying to express how much she wanted to please her husband. The scandals he had been involved in did not seem to make her hate him. Jackie Kennedy only seemed to want his approval, and she wanted them both to be remembered as extraordinary individuals.

Christian Johnson
Oxford Stories

Short Term 12 – I rewatched one of my favorite recent movies – Destin Daniel Cretton’s “Short Term 12.” Winning over 23 awards including a Critic’s Choice Movie Award and an Independent Spirit Award, the film premiered in 2013 and has grossed over $1 million.

The film stars Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., and Rami Malek. Despite its critical acclaim and prestigious cast, a disappointingly small number of people have seen this film.

“Short Term 12” is the story of Grace (Brie Larson), the supervisor of “Short Term 12”; Mason, her coworker and longtime boyfriend; and many children who come to the facility for various reasons. Many suffer from home abuse and self harm, as well as drug use and mental issues.

The film is touching and sheds light on the lives of many underprivileged children from their own perspectives. It tells the story of children living in “Short Term 12,” as well as the personal struggles endured by the faculty. The film brilliantly fuses humor and melancholy to captivate the audience and form a personal relationship with the actors in such a short time.

This remarkable film deserves much more attention than it receives. Few movies have changed who I am, but this is one that has. It has received a “Certified Fresh” score of 99 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and for good reason. It is a movie I believe everyone should see in their lifetime, because everyone has, at some point, come in contact with poverty and young people struggling with drug use, personal crisis, or an unhealthy home life.

The Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan has described “Short Term 12” as “a small wonder,” “a film of exceptional naturalness and empathy,” and “moving and intimate,” offering particular praise to the film’s stark honesty and fierce exploration of morality.

River Childers
Oxford Stories

Patriots Day – I watched the popular movie “Patriots Day,” starring Mark Wahlberg, who plays a police officer working at the finish line the day of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. The movie depicts a very surreal and intense scene when the bomb explodes. The film has realistic special effects and actual footage from cameras there where the bomb went off.

Throughout the film, Wahlberg is one of the Boston police officers sent to help the FBI find out who is responsible for the tragic event that took place. With a hyperextended leg, his character is involved in shootouts with the suspects who committed the crime, and the film shows heroic efforts during the events throughout that horrible day in Boston.

I think this film taught the American people a lot because it depicted, in great detail, the many different challenges that both the FBI and the Boston Police Department had to go against the day of the bombing and days later. The writers and editors conveyed the intensity of events associated with finding out who committed the crime and how they captured the suspects a few days after the bombing.

The movie really gave viewers an excellent look inside the FBI’s abilities to find and catch suspects. The FBI used computers and downloaded video from people’s phones and cameras around the area of the bomb to catch the suspect’s faces. The movie also followed the timeline of events well and did a wonderful job telling us how everything went down until they finally captured the suspects in a town outside of Boston.

Jack Danaher
Oxford Stories

Patriots Day – “Patriots Day” is an exhilarating thriller about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and aftermath. The movie starts Oscar-nominated actor Mark Wahlberg, who plays Tommy Saunders, a hard-nosed Boston policeman. It was the perfect role for Wahlberg, born and raised in Boston.

The passion and patriotism Tommy Saunders demonstrated had me at the edge of my seat. Peter Berg did a fantastic job directing the movie. The cast was filled with accomplished actors and actresses, such as John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, J. K. Simmons and Michelle Monaghan. Berg didn’t dramatize anything in the movie. Everything in this film really happened.

Most directors who make movies about tragic events incorporate huge explosions or scenes that are gorier than what actually happened. He wasn’t making this movie only for the money. Berg made it to show audiences what actually occurred during that dark week in Boston.

The movie showed the process our servicemen had to go through to find the two bombers. Throughout the movie, we saw the tactics that both the Boston Police Department and the FBI actually used to gather information and details about the bombing.

It was awesome to see what ideas they had and what decisions they had to make to crack the case. It was also very clever to put in non-fictional characters like MIT police officer Sean Collier and the young man, Dun Meng, because, out of nowhere, they became crucial parts of the movie. They were both receiving a lot of camera time, and that had me wondering what the deal was with these two characters.


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