Eleanor Ringel Cater

Movie column by Eleanor Ringel Cater

‘Birdman’ – a weighty and weightless movie that’s the best of the year so far

As its parenthetical subtitle implies, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” wraps a cautionary tale inside its pitch-black comedy. Be careful what you wish for — especially if it involves Hollywood or Broadway.

Sometime in the last century, Riggan Thompson (Michael Keaton) seemed to have everything he could wish for.
Continue reading

Posted in Eleanor Ringel Cater | Leave a comment

‘Kill the Messenger’ – movie reveals questions about ‘hell of a story’

In another time — say, another century — “Kill the Messenger” would be the talk of the town.  Or at least the talk of the water cooler.

It’s the true story of Gary Webb, a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, who, in the mid 1990s, uncovered a hell of a story.
Continue reading

Posted in Eleanor Ringel Cater | 1 Comment

‘Two Faces of January’ – with Dunst, Mortensen – has brilliant moments

When we first glimpse Chester MacFarland (VIggo Mortensen), the protagonist of “The Two Faces of January,” he could well be a Master of the Universe from “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” Tom Wolfe’s classic chronicle of greed run amok.

For that matter, he could be Wolfe himself, in his creamy white suit and snazzy broad-brimmed hat. Plus, on his arm, is the proper accoutrement: a drop-dead gorgeous blond. As it turns out, she’s his wife — much younger and properly adoring — Colette (Kirsten Durst).
Continue reading

Posted in Eleanor Ringel Cater | Leave a comment

‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’ – quiet hero Liam Neeson carries movie

The girl who’s gone in “A Walk Among the Tombstones” isn’t married to Ben Affleck. Her hubby is a drug dealer who, relatively speaking, is a pure-cut hero compared to the scum who kidnapped his wife.

She is also pretty much gone — aside from those lip-smacking bondage close-ups and tape-recorded screams so many thrillers traffic in these days — before the credits are over. She’s merely a catalyst to set the plot…make that, to set Liam Neeson … in motion.

Neeson has become quite the late-blooming action hero in recent years. “Taken,” “The Grey,” “Non-Stop,” and “Unknown” have catapulted the sensitive hunk from Oscar-bait roles to “Death Wish” material.
Continue reading

Posted in Eleanor Ringel Cater | Leave a comment

‘This is Where I Leave You’ – Jane Fonda helps younger actors shine

As the matriarch of the dysfunctional family in “This is Where I Leave You,” Jane Fonda, does a very clever thing.

She sports a pair of boobs so perky and, well, sizable, that almost everyone on screen makes a joke about her new enhancements. I have no idea whether these babies are real or photo-shopped, but either way, they serve an important function.

They distract us from wondering how much cosmetic work she has or has not had on her face.
Continue reading

Posted in Eleanor Ringel Cater | Leave a comment

‘The Equalizer’ – Denzel takes on weapons of home improvement

All things being equal, Denzel Washington’s new movie, “The Equalizer,” gets things done. Taking a page from the “Taken” playbook, Washington posits himself as a mild-mannered (on the surface) AARP-ready guy a la Liam Neeson’s recent career swerve into action heroism.

Not that Washington hasn’t flexed those muscles before — in movies like “Man on Fire,” “Safe House,” “2 Guns,” and more.

However, “The Equalizer,” is far more focused on the contrast between the regular-guy, who works as a manager at the local Home Mart — hmm….yellow themed as opposed to orange.
Continue reading

Posted in Eleanor Ringel Cater | Leave a comment

‘Love is Strange’ – getting married causes gay couple to live separately

The strange thing about “Love is Strange” is how very un-strange it is.

It’s the story of two people in love, newly married, who, due to financial difficulties, must live apart until said difficulties are solved.

One goes to stay with a nephew, married to a writer, with a shy, awkwardly adolescent son. The problem (s)? She works at home and their houseguest is inevitably in the way (plus, he must share a room with the aforementioned teen).

And, they live in Brooklyn. Not the Brooklyn of the Times or New York Magazine, but an older, more staid, more not-Manhattan Brooklyn.
Continue reading

Posted in Eleanor Ringel Cater | Leave a comment

Adieu Joan Rivers – a comedian with a calling to make people laugh, cringe

It could’ve been a joke Joan Rivers told on herself. Something about biting the dust while under the knife — a typical self-deprecating Rivers spin on her own penchant for multiple cosmetic surgeries.

Only she would’ve made it really funny. And really, really transgressive.

Rivers didn’t have much of a movie career. No wonder. Just how, one wonders, would Hollywood have cast a pretty petite blonde with a biting wit and a tongue double-dipped in acid and vulgarity? Not exactly Julie Andrews. Or Meryl Streep.
Continue reading

Posted in Eleanor Ringel Cater | Leave a comment

‘A Five-Star Life’ – an unfinished look at the high life and its emptiness

The Italian film “A Five Star Life” isn’t likely to garner a lot of five-star reviews.

It’s too singular. Too…unfinished.

It’s also the sort of movie Hollywood seldom, if ever, makes: one about an attractive woman in her mid-40s. (Aside: one could almost see Lauren Bacall in the role 50 years ago, but she would’ve also had to throw a coin in a fountain and wish for true love; plus, she’d be de facto i.d.’d not as an attractive woman but an attractive spinster).

Not so here. Elegant and sophisticated, Irene (Margherita Buy) makes her living visiting…well…elegant and sophisticated hotels all over the world. Paris this week, Gstaad the next.
Continue reading

Posted in Eleanor Ringel Cater | Leave a comment

Director Sir Richard Attenborough believed in dignity and equality for all

The bond between Atlanta and the late Sir Richard Attenborough, who recently died at age 90, goes a good deal deeper that most of us know.

In January 1983, the actor/director came here to present a benefit screening of “Gandhi,” his epic film about Mohandas K. Gandhi, the Indian leader whose unshakable adherence to nonviolence ultimately freed his country from colonial rule and inspired Martin Luther King, Jr. in his battle for civil rights.
Continue reading

Posted in Eleanor Ringel Cater | Leave a comment