Memorial Weekend: Mom Hits the Beach, Chaplin Hits the Boards

Helen Hunt’s wild ride on a surfboard trumps Disney’s thrill ride to the future in theaters this weekend. At home, Clint Eastwood’s on-target portrait of an American hero makes perfect Memorial Day viewing.

 

Tomorrowland
As director, Brad Bird gives us a dazzling glimpse of an idealized future city. As co-writer, though, he leaves us somewhere this side of Utopia with a muddled plot about a mismatched pair—grizzled, cantankerous George Clooney and perky, ever-optimistic Britt Robertson—trying to stave off the end of the world. House star Hugh Laurie, speaking in his native British accent for a change, is fun as the misguided villain. (FULL REVIEW)

 

Ride
Helen Hunt wrote, directed and stars in this gentle comic drama about a successful New Yorker editor who tails her son (Brenton Thwaites) to California to talk him out of becoming a beach bum. She winds up falling for the sand, the sea...and a handsome surfing instructor (Luke Wilson). (FULL REVIEW) 

 

 

New on DVD and Home Video

American  Sniper
Director  Clint Eastwood’s film about Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history, barrels along like a Humvee across the desert, hitting its targets with deadly accuracy before exploding with unexpected emotional force. As Kyle, Bradley Cooper ( The Hangover) is a revelation, portraying the inner life of a guy whose survival hinges on his ability to stuff his emotions into a psychological black hole.

 

Limelight (1952)
Accusations that its star, Charlie Chaplin, was a communist sympathizer sidelined this comic drama about the redemption of a washed-up vaudeville comic. Today Limelight seems a bit dated, even by 1950s standards. But no one could play pathos the way Chaplin did, and the film comes with a priceless bonus: The only scenes in which two titans of silent comedy, Chaplin and Buster Keaton, shared the screen.  Chaplin’s original score won him his only competitive Oscar.

 

The Maltese Bippy (1969, Video on Demand)
Even diehard fans of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In  may not remember the time Dan Rowan and Dick Martin attempted to parlay their TV stardom into movie immortality. This lighter-than-air comedy misfires with astounding regularity. Yet there’s something irresistible about seeing the boys (along with costars Carol Lynley, Julie Newmar, Fritz Weaver, and Robert “Partridge Family” Reed) in all their wide-screen, Metrocolor glory.

Click here to see an exclusive interview with Diane Keaton talking about what happened when she asked Morgan Freeman out on a date.

 

Still out there in theaters:

5 Flights Up
Diane Keaton and  Morgan Freeman are the year’s most adorable screen couple. They star as a long-married pair who must decide whether or not to relinquish the fifth-floor  Brooklyn walkup apartment they’ve shared for four decades. The film addresses some serious issues, notably “aging in place,” and has some insightful lessons to impart about planning for the future versus constantly fretting about it.  FULL REVIEW

The Age of Adaline
Never aging a day past 29 sounds like a pretty sweet deal — at first. But as Blake Lively’s titular character discovers, it also means watching everyone you love grow old — including your 80-something daughter (a radiant  Ellen Burstyn) and that handsome hunk with whom you once had a thing (the ever-dashing  Harrison Ford).

Avengers: Age of Ultron
Captain America (Chris Evans) has been around since World War II. Tony  “Iron Man” Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is well into middle age. Those facts give an AARP-ish tinge to the latest all-star Marvel comics screen epic as the heroes battle a disagreeable robot voiced with trademark spookiness by James Spader.

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Every Secret Thing
Nicole Holofcener ( Enough Said, Friends with Money) wrote this adaptation of Laura Lippman’s novel, the story of a detective (Elizabeth Banks) racing the clock to save a missing child who may or may not have been kidnapped by two disturbed girls (Danielle Macdonald and Dakota Fanning). Diane Lane costars as Macdonald’s equally troubled mother.

Far from the Madding Crowd
Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel about a plucky farmer (adorable Carey Mulligan) and the three men who woo her (a sheep farmer, a military man and a rich bachelor) gets its fourth screen incarnation. We’ll always be partial to  John Schelsinger’s 1967 version , however, with Julie Christie in the lead role.

Good Kill
Ethan Hawke stars as a U.S. Air Force drone pilot in one of the year’s most important films. (It’s also among the most dramatically engaging.) He tracks down and exterminates Afghan enemies from the comfort of a  Las Vegas control room by day, then attempts to maintain a normal family life by night. Writer-director Andrew Niccol ( Gattaca) ingeniously explores the face of modern war without passing judgment on it.

I’ll See You in My Dreams
The latest star in a welcome string of grownup-movie love stories,  Blythe Danner shines as a long-widowed woman who finds herself in an unexpected late-life romance with a charming, wealthy retiree ( Sam Elliott).

Iris
This final film from legendary documentary maker Albert Maysles ( Gimme Shelter,  Grey Gardens) is a love letter to style icon  Iris Apfel, who at 93 still wows the fashion world with her distinctive looks. “Life is gray and dull and you might as well have a little fun when you dress,” says Apfel.

Mad Max: Fury Road
Is this reboot of the original “Road Warrior” series any good? That’s for those of us who recall the original  Mel Gibson classic to decide. Tom Hardy stars as the hero this time around.

The Water Diviner
First-time director  Russell Crowe tackles one of  World War I’s most consequential events: the Battle of Gallipoli in Turkey. Crowe also stars as an Australian farmer who travels to Turkey after the war to learn what became of his three sons, reportedly among the battle’s 150,000 casualties.

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