Eleanor Ringel Cater

Movie column by Eleanor Ringel Cater

‘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.
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‘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.
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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.
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‘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.
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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.
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Remembering interviewing Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall – two actors who loved and lived to work

I interviewed Robin Williams once. It was the early ‘90s, and he was pushing “Flubber.” He was funny. He was kind. And he was, as he himself admitted, a very hairy man.

As it happens, I also interviewed Lauren Bacall, another loss from last week. In fact, she was my very first interview as the movie critic for the Atlanta Constitution.

What I thought when I heard about Robin Williams’ suicide. He wanted to keep working. He loved the actor’s life. So did Lauren Bacall. So did Humphrey Bogart and John Wayne, for that matter.

Moliere died on stage, in the middle of one of his own plays. He sounds pretty lucky.
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‘Mood Indigo’ – a visually delightful film where tragedy meets the sublime

You don’t know how tempting it is to review “Mood Indigo” by simply listing all the visual delights Michel Gondry crams into his newest flight of fancy.

A Rubric Cube calendar. The pianocktail that allows you to compose a tune and concoct a cocktail at the same time. The doctor-prescribed treatment for a case of “water lily in the right lung” (very expensive). A tray of oven-baked snacks that come in tiny dollhouse ovens. A movable feast (literally).
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‘Magic in the Moonlight’ – Woody Allen casts an acceptable spell

If you happen to know — or happier still — happen to love Woody Allen’s moon-drenched “A Midsummer’s Night Sex Comedy,” it’s all but impossible to look at his newest, “Magic in the Moonlight” without regarding it as a kind of autobiographical bookend to the earlier film.

Think back to the Woody Allen Saga, circa 1982.

He is newly in love — besotted with his cultural opposite, flirtatious flower child Mia Farrow, the waif-like ‘60s siren who, at 21, snared Old Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. It’s worth noting that he, at 50, was at his most irrelevant. In 1966, nobody gave a flying flip about Ring-a-ding-ding. Well, nobody under 30, that is.
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‘Begin Again’ – director of ‘Once’ brings sweet music to New York

Maybe “Once” was enough for writer/director John Carney.

The Irish filmmaker’s low-key 2006 movie was a surprise hit in the U.S. — so much so that it was subsequently turned into a successful Broadway musical, also called “Once.”

Not that his sophomore effort, “Begin Again,” is all that bad.

It isn’t. But it lacks the considerable offbeat charm of its predecessor.
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‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ – Western-like plot of apes vs. humans

Monkey See Monkey Do. Monkey doo doo.

This is hardly Pulitzer Prize writing, but the entire time I was watching “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” I could not get this rude little jingle out of my head.

Its predecessor, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” did the near-impossible: it resurrected a series that had trashed its own legacy throughout the early ‘70s.
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