Entries by Eleanor Ringel

‘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.

‘Isle of Dogs’ – amazing looking movie that gets bogged down

If you’re the sort of dog lover who choked up when Lassie came home, “Isle of Dogs” may not be for you.

If, however, you are an ardent fan of all things Wes Anderson, well, this movie is about as Wes Anderson as it gets.

Best known for such live-action features as “The Royal Tannenbaums,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Moonrise Kingdom” and “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou,” Anderson also made a rather fabulous stop-motion animation called “The Fantastic Mr. Fox.” 

‘Red Sparrow’ – Jennifer Lawrence is too good an actress for this Russian spy movie

By Eleanor Ringel Cater You spend maybe the first ten minutes of “Red Sparrow” trying to decide if you like Jennifer Lawrence in bangs. You spend the last hour and a half trying to figure out, who picks her projects? If it’s her agent, she needs to change. If she chooses them herself, she needs […]

‘A Wrinkle in Time’ – a super-sized Oprah in disappointing touchy-feely movie

Let’s blame Oprah. She gets blamed for so much else, so why not?

The beloved icon arrives in “A Wrinkle in Time” bigger than life and twice as unnatural.  She’s got gold-beaded eyebrows and is dressed in what might be called The-Jetsons-Meets-Game-of-Thrones chic. And she is big — tall as a house, with an imperious (yet down-to-earth and kind-hearted) manner that suggests, well, Super-Sized Oprah.

‘The Party’ – an eccentric, stage-bound movie in black-and-white

Noel Coward, who famously enjoyed parties where a guest “got blind on Dubonet and Gin and scratched her veneer with a Cartier pin,” would find “The Party” right up his alley. 

For the rest of us, well, it’s hardly difficult to find something to enjoy about a movie that offers Kristin Scott Thomas, Patricia Clarkson, Bruno Ganz, Emily Mortimer, Cillian Murphy, Cherry Jones and Timothy Spall.

‘The 15:17 to Paris’ – Clint Eastwood turns great story into mediocre movie

Like its protagonists, “The 15:17 to Paris” is amiable, low-key and kind of aimless.

You may not remember Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos by name, but you probably remember their real-life 15 minutes of well-earned fame.

One hot August day in 2015, the three friends were traveling by train from Amsterdam to Paris. So was Ayoub El Khazzani, armed with an AK-47, a pistol, a box cutter and 300 rounds of ammunition.

‘I, Tonya’ – a white-trash winter wonderland of a movie

“I was loved. I was hated. Then I was a punchline.”

And then she was a movie, in which she is, well, a punchline.

“She” is Tonya Harding, a hard-luck Olympic ice skater who, for about 16 seconds in 1994, became world famous as the white-trash underdog who tried to take out America’s ice-princess sweetheart, Nancy Kerrigan.