Entries by Eleanor Ringel

“Eighth Grade” – a ‘small, smart gem’ of a movie

You know how sometimes you feel like a movie is being jammed down your throat, and you just don’t want to go see it out of sheer spite?

That’s how I felt about “Eighth Grade.” For at least the last month, every time there was some sort of talk show or morning show or whatever else that passes for televised entertainment these days, someone would be enthusiastically chatting up Bo Burnham’s debut film.

“Christopher Robin” – a movie that seeks to find our inner child

Filmmaker Marc Forster spends much of “Christopher Robin” trying to find that “Finding Neverland” sweet spot he worked so successfully in the 2004 Johnny Depp movie about James M. Barrie, the author of “Peter Pan.”

Not that the two are really very similar, but both pose the singular challenge of creating a film that appeals to both child-like adults and bonafide children. Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh share that peculiar territory (for better and worse) and both require careful handling when it comes to circling said territory.

“Love, Cecil” – documentary of Cecil Beaton’s life doesn’t make him loveable

Whether it means to or not, the last thing the documentary “Love, Cecil” will do is get you to, well, love Cecil.

Cecil in this case is Cecil Beaton, photographer, author, designer, social butterfly and stylist extraordinaire. To her credit, filmmaker Lisa Immordino Vreeland reminds us that Beaton was virtually incapable of making an aesthetically clumsy choice.

New ‘Mamma Mia’ movie: summer silliness that goes down easily

My friend says there are two kinds of people in the world:

Those who can’t wait for another “Mamma Mia” movie and those who can.

I’m pretty firmly in the latter camp, but that doesn’t mean “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again” poses a particular hardship. In fact, like a drink with an umbrella, it goes down rather easily. It does, however, lack two things: Meryl Streep and a Greek island.

‘Three Identical Strangers’ – movie tracks triplets separated at birth

Everybody finds the first day of college a little weird, but it was, well, doubly so for Bobby Shafran. 

When he arrived at Sullivan County Community College in 1980, total strangers were happy to see him. Guys high-fived him.  Girls gave him a hug.  Finally, someone put, well, two and two together and asked him if he was adopted.  He was.

‘Hearts Beat Loud’ – a minor miracle of a movie about a father-daughter musical duo

Heartfelt and, yes, heartwarming (aaarrgh, what a buzzkill word!!), “Hearts Beat Loud” reminds us there is life at the movies beyond dinosaurs and third-rate “Star Wars” one-offs.

It’s a small, smart picture about a father and daughter beautifully played by Nick Offerman (“Parks and Recreation”) and KIersey Clemons (“Flatliners,” “Transparent”).

‘Incredibles 2’ – Superheroes with little inner spark

We all know those t-shirts: “My parents went to Hawaii/Venice/Chicago and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”

The t-shirt for “Incredibles 2” should read: “It took 14 years to make a sequel and all we got was this lousy movie?”

Most movie-goers have been wild about “Incredibles 2,” but then they were wild about “The Incredibles” as well. 

‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ – movie lets Mr. Rogers speak for himself

Fittingly, the first words in the lovely new Mr. Rogers documentary are an invitation: “Come on over a minute…”

The title is an invitation, too. It’s “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” the musical catchphrase that opened his celebrated children’s TV program.

Of course, calling “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” a children’s show is a little like calling Triple Crown champ, Justify, a promising colt. It’s, um, limited.

‘First Reformed’ – Ethan Hawke is ‘extraordinary’ in movie that questions faith

About halfway through my scribbled notes for Paul Schrader’s stunning new film, “First Reformed,” I came across the line, “’Taxi Driver’ Meets ‘An Inconvenient Truth.’”

Reasonably clever in a “quippy’ way — and dead wrong.

Yes, environmental concerns are raised in “First Reformed” and yes, Schrader wrote “Taxi Driver” which also examined the psyche of someone so isolated and in pain as to be almost beyond our understanding.

‘RBG’ – a love letter movie to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Never mind The Avengers. The real superhero in theaters right now is Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the focus of “RBG.” 

More valentine than documentary, the film is a spritely and affectionate tribute to the 84-year-old judge and unlikely pop-culture phenom who, like some fairy godmother many of us never knew we had, helped change the landscape of women’s rights in 20th and 21st century America. 

Spielberg’s ‘Ready Player One” title should be ‘Ready Player STOP’

Steve Murray, my former colleague at the Atlanta Newspapers, is one of the best movie critics, anywhere, ever. Together, we had to suffer through some pretty vile stuff over the decades. Sometimes, when something got jaw-droppingly repulsive, he would lean over and whisper plaintively, “Make it stop….”

Oh, how I thought of him during “Ready Player One.”

Make it stoooopppp. 

‘A Quiet Place’ – a silence-filled movie for people to lean in and listen

Imagine the whole world has been transformed into Anne Frank’s attic where the slightest sound could bring rampaging Nazis. Only, in the crafty and effective  “A Quiet Place,” sound doesn’t summon jackboots; it brings nasty spindly-legged killer aliens (think “Alien” meets “Starship Troopers.”).

That’s the world we’re plunged into by director/star John Krasinski who inverts “Silence is Golden” into “Silence is Salvation.”

‘The Death of Stalin’ – an excellent farce by Armando Iannucci set in 1953 Russia

As fans of  “Veep” already know  (and we are legion), nobody does mordant political vaudeville like Armando Iannucci. His touch is swift, sure and utterly poisonous. 

No wonder the frenetic power coup chronicled in his excellent new film, “The Death of Stalin,” is as much Monty Python and Marx Brothers as it is social commentary.