Will someone please find the great Harrison Ford something new to do? Yes, it was fun to see him leathered up again in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and we can’t wait to find out what he and Steven Spielberg have up their sleeves for the 2019 Indiana Jones reboot they announced this week. But not since 2013’s splendid 42, in which he played baseball legend Branch Rickey, has Ford really been called upon to stretch himself.
A fond farewell to Frank Sinatra Jr., 72 (shown at right with Cicely Tyson and Ossie Davis in their 1966 flick A Man Called Adam). In a poignant, personal 2012 interview, Frank sat down to chat with us about life as the musical director for his legendary father.
This Weekend at the Movies
Christopher Plummer is mesmerizing as a nursing-home resident, suffering from dementia, who sets off on a cross-country bus trip to kill a Nazi war criminal. The superb supporting cast includes Martin Landau as the friend who launches him on the mission and Dean Norris as a neo-Nazi state trooper. FULL REVIEW
Miracles from Heaven
Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifa costar in this faith-based film about a mother whose daughter survives a terrifying accident. The older woman then finds herself miraculously cured of a “fatal” digestive disorder. Based on the true story of a Texas family.
Ben Foster stars as disgraced biking champ Lance Armstrong in this biopic from director Stephen Frears (Philomena, The Queen). The film is less about Armstrong’s decision to take performance-enhancing drugs than his years-long scheme to hide it—a narrative choice that makes him such a one-dimensional villain even the talented Foster can’t pique our interest in him. Dustin Hoffman pops up briefly as a promotions executive.
New at Home
Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday (Netflix)
More than 30 years after his first Big Adventure, Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) returns on another cross-country voyage of discovery. If Reubens’s voice has dropped and his limbs are less rubbery, but it’s still a visceral delight to see the boy in the gray flannel suit taking in the world with his off-kilter wonder.
The Big Short
Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell and Brad Pitt star in this account of the investors who saw the 2007 financial crash coming — and cashed in while everyone else lost their shirts. Director Adam McCary literally stops the action to put the likes of chef Anthony Bourdain and Selena Gomez before the camera to explain the mechanics of Loanageddon.
One of the most beautiful films of this or any year, Brooklyn tells the simple tale of a young Irishwoman (Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan) who emigrates to 1950s New York City, where she finds love — and guilt at having left her mother and sister behind in old Eire. By the end you’ll ache for everyone involved to find happiness.
Cate Blanchett is heartbreaking as a 1950s wife and mother who finds herself falling in love with a young shopgirl (Rooney Mara). The actresses’ commitment to their roles — along with Kyle Chandler’s sensitive turn as Carol’s husband — lift the story clear of its sudsy premise.
Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine
How inscrutable was Steve Jobs? Even after interviews with some of his closest associates — not to mention the mother of his daughter — documentarian Alex Gibney (Going Clear) can’t quite suss out what made the man at the core of Apple tick.
Eddie the Eagle
Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) brings an earnest naïveté to the role of ungainly Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards — Britain’s first Olympic ski jumper in 50 years, and the sensation of the 1988 Calgary games. Hugh Jackman is a cranky delight as his coach, a washed-up former ski champ. FULL REVIEW
Eye in the Sky
Helen Mirren stars as a British drone commander who must decide whether or not to hit a terrorist training camp — and risk killing an innocent girl selling bread nearby. Provided you can stand some overwrought agonizing about the decision, the performances are universally excellent — especially that of the late Alan Rickman, in his final film role.
EXCLUSIVE CLIP: “42” Beyond the Diamond
Brooklyn Dodger great Jackie Robinson’s breakthrough as the first African American in Major League Baseball is well-known; in this clip exclusively for AARP, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns confesses he never fully realized the star’s post-baseball importance to the civil rights movement. The clip is an extra feature on the Blu-ray and digital version of Burns’s PBS special Jackie Robinson, on sale April 12.
Those crazy Coen brothers (Fargo) plunge us into a fantasized version of 1950s Hollywood with this delightful ensemble piece about a studio head (Josh Brolin) dealing with the kidnapping of his biggest star (George Clooney). Making high-wattage cameos are Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and Wayne Knight. FULL REVIEW
Hello, My Name Is Doris
Sally Field is magnificent as a 60-something office worker who wakes up one morning horrified to realize she’s become a “crazy cat lady.” Among her remedies: pursuing an unlikely crush on a handsome young co-worker (Max Greenfield).
The Last Man on the Moon
This thrilling, inspiring, beautiful documentary about Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan deftly evokes America’s decade-long commitment to landing a man on the moon in 1969. Part of the joy comes from reveling in a time when the nation could agree on a common goal. Winner of the Movies for Grownups Best Documentary award.
London Has Fallen
More than London Bridge is falling down in this action spectacle: Terrorists are bombing everything in sight during a summit of world leaders. The bad guys want to podcast their execution of the U.S. President (Aaron Eckhart); his Secret Service buddy (Gerard Butler) and vice-president (Morgan Freeman) have other ideas.
“999” is police-band radio code for “Officer down!” In this case that would be Officer Casey Affleck, who’s been shot by a group of crooked Atlanta cops trying to create a distraction so they can boost some Benjamins across town. The bad news — for them — is that the targeted cop doesn’t die.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Based on a memoir by reporter Kim Barker, this action-comedy stars Tina Fey as a cable news producer who gives up her cushy lifestyle to cover the war in Afghanistan. Billy Bob Thornton is a no-nonsense commanding officer. In classic Hollywood cluelessness, a Middle Eastern power broker is played by Alfred Molina — a British-born, Italian-Spanish actor.
Photo: Jackie Robinson: PBS
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