Eleanor Ringel Cater

Movie column by Eleanor Ringel Cater

‘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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‘Snowpiercer’ – movie about a train traveling through climate change

As post-apocalyptic films go, “Snowpiercer” has several things going for it.

First, the director is South Korean Bong Joon-ho, working in English for the first time. A few years ago, he made a stunning and original film called “The Host,” — a monster movie unlike anything you’ve seen before, partly a straight-on yum-yum-eat-‘em-up saga of a Nasty Thing that comes from a river and starts killing everyone in sight, it’s also a tender story of family and loss.
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‘Obvious Child’ – a movie about a woman’s choice grows on you

“Obvious Child” offers the responsible critic (and we are assuming I am one…) an interesting conundrum.

What if you heartily agree with the point the picture is trying to make and applaud it for doing so, but the movie itself is, well, so-so.

A recent example would be “12 Years a Slave,” a very good movie in many ways. Good enough to be deemed the Best Picture of the year at the Academy Awards.
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In honor of the 2014 World Cup, here are movies with a soccer theme

Has the World Cup given you a taste for the world’s greatest sport?

If so, do you have any idea how hard it is to find world-class soccer again once the Cup is won? In the U.S, I mean. Everywhere else in the universe, God’s Chosen Game will continue at the same feverish pitch

So here’s what I thought. Maybe it would help to suggest several soccer movies to help you through the inevitable withdrawal period.
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‘Edge of Tomorrow’ – Tom Cruise in a cool science fiction thriller

You hear that Tom Cruise is starring in a movie called “Edge of Tomorrow” and two things  go through your head. Couldn’t they find a better title than one that sounds like an old afternoon soap from the ‘60s?

And this time-loop concept…didn’t Bill Murray do it about as well as it ever could be done in “Groundhog Day?” And wasn’t it done about as routinely as possible in “Source Code?”

Yes, Yes . And yes.

But it makes no difference.  “Edge of Tomorrow” is one of the coolest sci fi/action thrillers to come along in quite a while.
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‘Days of Heaven’ – sensuous movie to be screened at Lefont Film Society

A few years ago, I was asked to contribute to the National Society of Film Critics newest book, “The X List,” subtitled “Movies that Turn Us On.”

You’d be surprised by what turns critics on (maybe not…)

Roger Ebert chose a movie he’d co-written, “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.” The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern went for Brad Pitt’s “Troy.” Time’s Richard Schickel chose “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.” Peter Travers from Rolling Stone admitted he gets hot and bothered by “Body Heat.”
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Three movies: ‘Belle,’ ‘Maleficent’ and ‘A Million Ways to Die in the West’

Here are my reviews of three movies that are out in theaters right now — “Belle;” “Maleficent” and “A Million Ways to Die in the West.”

“Belle,” which was “inspired” by a true story, is a richly gorgeous film. “Maleficent” is impressive, and any movie with Angelina Jolie has natural star power. “A Million Ways to Die in the West” shows that Seth MacFarlane really loves Westerns.
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‘Chef’ – Jon Favreau returns to his Indie roots in a mouth-watering way

Movies don’t come more mouth-watering than “Chef,” written, directed and starring Jon Favreau.

Favreau hit it off with audiences with his very first film, “Swingers,” which essentially did two things.

1) It made Vince Vaughn a household name.

2) It made it ok — cool, even — to embrace the whole moldy Rat Pack thing. Only, of course, slightly re-edited, so that all the cool people are absolutely cool about race and women’s greatest wish is to be treated as a sex object.
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‘Neighbors’ – watching the movie makes one miss the late John Belushi

Where is John Belushi’s unparalleled popped-pimple impersonation when we need it?

I summon the ghost of Belushi’s Bluto in “Animal House” because, in some strange blip of cinematic genealogy, he’s as responsible for “Neighbors” as Seth Rogen is.

In fact, considering the lard-ish lineage of the fat comic on film, Belushi may be doubly guilty.
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