Saving the Best for Last In the new thriller Eye in the Sky, the late Alan Rickman plays a British military officer with the grim task of approving a drone strike that may kill innocent people. It was the final performance of his life, and it ranks among his best.
In a superb cast that includes Oscar winner Helen Mirren and Oscar nominee Barkhad Abdi ( Captain Phillips), Rickman’s contribution was crucial, says director Gavin Hood ( Ender’s Game). “Alan had this ability to bend a line or roll an eye to bring humor and irony to a scene that might otherwise be played totally straight. I have no idea if he knew he was ill at the time we were filming. I wish he were here to talk about this film. He was such a very, very intelligent man.”
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.
Michael Douglas accepts our Career Achievement Award
EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Grownups Only! Why should celebs have all the fun? This dazzling sizzle reel captures the excitement and glamour of our 15th Annual Movies for Grownups Awards in Beverly Hills February 8.
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).
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 breadynearby. 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).
Remember 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 wheelchair-bound friend who unleashes him on the mission and Dean Norris as a neo-Nazi state trooper.
In the Heart of the Sea Ron Howard’s epic vision of an 1820s whaling ship under attack by its target is spectacular as long as the fins are flying. Once the sailors find themselves bobbing about in lifeboats thousands of miles from shore, however, our interest starts to drift as well. FULL REVIEW
The Peanuts Movie Somewhere Charles Schulz is smiling about this big-screen adaptation of his comic strip and TV specials that chronicled the misadventures of the world’s favorite loser, Charlie Brown. For parents and grandparents, it’s the perfect chance to introduce kids to some of the most enduring characters ever invented.
Still Out There
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny(IMAX and Netflix) Your choice: Find a giant screen showing this sequel to the 2000 classic or watch it on your TV. Already a runaway hit in China, the fantasy action flick brings back Michelle Yeoh as the warrior who must prevent a powerful sword from falling into the hands of an evil warlord.
EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: George Kennedy: One Great Character A fond farewell to George Kennedy, who died last month at 91. He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Cool Hand Luke in 1967 — and went on to create one great character after another for nearly 50 years. Here’s George in 2011, giving us his perspective on getting older…and about the time he “had to” slip his hand under Victoria Principal’s jacket.
Hail, Caesar! 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
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. AN MFG WINNER FOR DOCUMENTARY
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); but his Secret Service buddy (Gerard Butler) and vice-president ( Morgan Freeman) have other ideas.
EXCLUSIVE VIDEO A fond farewell to legendary cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, who’s died at 103. You may not know his name, but as you’ll see in this wrap-up of his best films, you’ve certainly shared his vision.
Race The story of Olympic champion Jesse Owens — the African American runner who exploded Hitler’s myth of Aryan superiority — is faithfully captured in this often-thrilling biopic starring Stephan James ( Selma) as Owens and SNL alumnus Jason Sudeikis as his coach. FULL REVIEW
Triple 9 “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 pull off a heist 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 true Hollywood fashion, British-born Italian-Spanish actor Alfred Molina plays a Middle Eastern power broker.
Photos: Alan Rickman: Bleecker Street Media Jackie Robinson: PBS Michael Douglas: Bill Newcott