Entries by Eleanor Ringel

‘Paris Can Wait’ – Eleanor Coppola’s feature debut loses its way

A movie has to be pretty bad to make Diane Lane look bad.

Alas, “Paris Can Wait” is that movie.

Lane plays Anne, a chicly dressed accessory (read, wife) to power-player filmmaker, Michael (Alec Baldwin). He’s not a monster (well, not by Hollywood standards). Sure, he plays around and generally treats her more like a personal assistant than a wife (Where are my socks? Where are my pills?)). But at least he’s semi-conscious of the inequity and, in his way, values her.

‘Megan Leavey’ – an endearing movie of a woman Marine and a bomb-sniffing dog

“Megan Leavey” had me at “Woof.”

Based on the true story of a Marine and her bomb-sniffing dog, the movie is a well-told weepie, especially if you’re a full-blown animal lover (Full confession…me).

Megan (Kate Mara) has a dead-end job and a deadbeat mom (Edie Falco) in a deader-than-dead town. There’s nothing keeping her in this Rust Belt corner of hell, but she doesn’t have any place she especially wants to go.

‘Wonder Woman’ – femme-centric action flick ‘a bit dull’

“Wonder Woman” isn’t wonderful.

Okay, there, I said.

While the entire future of women in Hollywood is apparently riding on this femme-centric action flick (Variety-speak) and while the critics have raved and audiences have rallied, I just can’t join the celebration.

“Wonder Woman” is sturdy. It’s expensive. Its star, Gal Gadot (a former Miss Israel; who knew Wonder Woman was a nice Jewish girl?), is winning and hard-working.

‘The Lovers’ – Debra Winger’s return to silver screen leaves one wanting

Years ago, there was a documentary called “Searching for Debra Winger.”

Well, she’s been found. You just wish she’d been found in a better movie.

“The Lovers” is a comedy of eros. And errors. Mary (Winger) and Michael (Tracy Letts) have been together for eons. The spark hasn’t just gone out of their marriage; there’s not even any kindling left.

So both, on the sly, have taken lovers. He’s with a well-toned but unstable ballet teacher (Melora Walters); she’s with a charming but lightweight writer (Aidan Gillen from “Game of Thrones”). The joke, kinda, is that the two cheat-ees are similar, both being what you might call B minus/C plus level artistes (but pretty).

‘Snatched’ – a Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer comedy that falls short

Before “Snatched” begins, its stars, Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn, appear together on-screen and thank us for coming to an actual theater to see their movie: “So many people worked on this and you chose the best way to see it!”

By the time “Snatched” is over, you may not feel like saying “Thanks” back. You may feel more like saying, “Why???”

‘The Circle’ – a social satire with a sinister subtext

Forget the old saying, “The Future is Now.” In “The Circle,” The Future is Yesterday.

A cautionary tale with a better set-up than pay-off, the movie makes merry fun of millennial Happy-Face careerism — but with a sinister subtext that becomes less of a laughing matter as the picture progresses. The problem is “The Circle” is never quite as ominous as it could be and the final scenes just sort of dribble away.

‘Tommy’s Honour’ perfect for scratch players, for duffers – not so much

In “Tommy’s Honour,” the greatest hazard facing Tommy Morris – the 19th-century golf prodigy who won the equivalent of the British Open four times before he turned 21 – wasn’t sand traps or rough weather. It was the wretchedly rigid class system which decreed, no matter how well he did on the course, off the course he wasn’t a gentleman and thereby ineligible for acceptance into the inner circle at Scotland’s august St. Andrews. The highest he could aspire to was being a caddy.

In ‘Going in Style,’ viewers’ patience is rewarded

If you’re going to insist on making a movie about cuddly old codgers, you can’t do much better than casting Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin, the stars of “Going in Style.”

This trio of Oscar winners (Caine has two, actually) know all about how to make a movie work as best as it possibly can. And they know how to rescue one when it gets in trouble.

‘Get Out’ melds humor, horror in a race-conscious screenplay

“Get Out” pulls off a pretty impressive balancing act. It is simultaneously funny as all get out and scary as all get out.

The brainchild of Jordan Peele (best known as the shorter half of the Peele and Key comedy duo), “Get Out” has been hanging on in theaters for weeks now. No wonder. It’s an eminently satisfying film, combining sharp social satire with a horror flick’s incremental sense of dread.

‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ squanders opportunity, misses the mark

It’s one thing to buy a zoo, as Matt Damon did in the 2011 movie. It’s quite another to keep the remnants of a zoo up and running after the Nazis have goose-stepped into Poland, as Jessica Chastain does in “The Zookeeper’s Wife.”
Based on a true story, the movie follows the quiet heroics of Antonina and Jan Zabinski (Chastain and Johan Heldenbergh). Not only did they do their best to keep the few animals that survived the initial Nazi invasion alive; they also used their decimated zoo as a means to hide Jews who’d escaped the infamous Warsaw Ghetto.

‘Personal Shopper’ makes viewers voyeurs, perhaps stalkers, of leading lady

Kristin Stewart and her cell phone co-star in “Personal Shopper,” a ghost story for the cyber age. Since Stewart always looks slightly haunted, you could almost say it’s typecasting.

However, the typecasting here is of a different sort. As she did in “The Clouds of Sils Maria,” Stewart is again playing the personal assistant to a powerful woman. But while the core of “Sils Maria” was the give-and-take between her and Juliette Binoche (the self-absorbed actor who employs her), the boss in “Personal Shopper” is more a plot device than anything else. This movie is all about Stewart; thankfully, she’s such an intriguing actor, she can handle it.

Half of ‘Lion’ would have been better than the whole show

Recently, there was a full-page ad for “Lion” in the Sunday New York Times. Given that the film has been nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, this isn’t especially surprising.

What is surprising is, instead of the usual critics’ quotes, the ad features ringing endorsements from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and UNICEF.