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Robert Redford

‘The Old Man and the Gun’ – actor Robert Redford still robbing banks – now as Forrest Tucker

One measure of the affection (and, yes, lust) that has accrued to Robert Redford over his decades in movies is, when he walks into a bank in “The Old Man and the Gun,” we reflexively wonder, is he “walking” like an old man or does he, at 82, now walk like an old man?

Actually, in keeping with the delicacy of the acting ego, Redford is playing younger than his age.

A Star is Born

‘A Star is Born’ – Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga carry the movie

A star isn’t exactly born in the newest iteration of the well-worn classic. After all, most of us have heard of Lady Gaga somehow, somewhere.

Besides, this isn’t even – technically – her feature film debut. According to IMDB, she’s already appeared on the big screen in “Machete Kills” “Muppets Most Wanted” (as herself) and “Men in Black 3” as “alien on TV monitors.”

"The House with a Clock in its Wall"

‘The House with a Clock in Its Walls’ – amazing-looking movie with quirkiness

Taken on purely architectural terms, the titular structure in “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is a cunning cross between the “Addams Family” manse and Mother Bates’ place in “Psycho.”

Cinematically, however, it’s on far trickier turf. Eli Roth, who took torture-porn to new…heights?…in “Cabin Fever” (which I saw and admired) and the “Hostel” movies (I took a pass), makes a bid for Tim Burton territory.  In many ways, he’s successful.

A scene from "Christopher Robin" movie

“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

“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.

Hearts Beat Loud

‘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”).

A movie poster of "Won't You Be My Neighbor'

‘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.

"Ready Player One" movie poster

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. 

Isle of Dogs

‘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.” 

Wrinkle in time

‘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

‘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.

Say it loud: Marvel’s brilliant “Black Panther” is more than just another superhero movie

Children need heroes to emulate, in real-life and in the world of make-believe. As a kid, l always admired my heroically hard-working parents but I also desperately wanted to be like Superman, the superhero I watched on TV. Although I looked nothing like the lily-white Man of Steel, that didn’t stop me from “flying” around the house with a red bath towel knotted around my neck, scrawny arms outstretched, ready to fight for truth, justice and the American Way.

Now, more than 50 years later, the groundbreaking release of Marvel’s “Black Panther” movie represents a game-changing social phenomenon for a generation of young people — especially young African-Americans — whose mythology and identity will likely be shaped by a fictional hero who’s more relevant and revolutionary than Superman ever was, or could be.

movie

‘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.