Star power fuels this weekend’s theatrical grownup movies: Lily Tomlin, Patricia Clarkson, Ben Kingsley and Pierce Brosnan all headline new films.
At home, nostalgia rules: Check out vintage films from Truffaut, the Disney studios...and one of Hollywood’s most beloved bad directors, William “One Shot” Beaudine.
Lily Tomlin stars as a grandmother trying to help her teenage granddaughter (Julia Garner) pay for an abortion. Crass, combative and vulnerable, Tomlin gives the performance of a lifetime in a film that suggests the planet might improve if all males were abducted by aliens.
Learning to Drive
She’s an elitist Manhattan literary critic. He’s an Indian cab driver. Together, Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley make a charmingly odd couple in a film about perfect strangers who discover they are just what the other one needs. (FULL REVIEW)
Some Kind of Beautiful
Not many 60+ stars can pull off the college-professor-irresistible-to-his-students bit. Then again, few have the gifts of Pierce Brosnan, who plays a randy academic torn between sisters Salma Hayek and Jessica Alba. (Though the title sounds like a Soul Brothers Six song, give thanks they dropped the original: How to Make Love Like an Englishman.)
New on DVD, Blu-ray and Video on Demand
Day for Night (1973)
French director Francois Truffaut plays a fictionalized version of himself in this classic film that explores the thin line between life and art. Radiant Jacqueline Bisset stars as a young actress recovering from a nervous breakdown.
Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952)
C-list director William “One Shot” Beaudine cast a Dean Martin- Jerry Lewis lookalike team (Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo) in a comedy/horror quickie costarring, in one of his last roles, a frighteningly gaunt Bela Lugosi.
An appealing cast — including Tom Wilkinson, Kevin James and Emily Watson — enlivens this heartfelt story of a World War II-era child convinced he can magically bring his beloved dad back from the battlefield. Lending welcome heft is a challenging subplot about cross-cultural shunning. (FULL REVIEW)
Walt Disney Animation Short Films Collection
The Disney studio cut its teeth on short cartoons, and the tradition survives in these mini-masterpieces from the past decade or so. Best of the lot: Oscar winners Feast and Paperman, plus the retro Mickey Mouse masterpiece Get a Horse!
Still in theaters
A lovable cat burglar ( Paul Rudd) dons a suit that shrinks him to the size of an ant and endows him with superhuman strength. It’s really just a far-out heist film. (And as the suit’s inventor, Michael Douglas is delightfully in on the joke.)
This neat little thriller finds two cute rural kids (James Freedson-Jackson and Hays Wellford) stumbling upon an abandoned police car and taking it for a joyride. They don’t know a bad cop (delightfully dirty Kevin Bacon) is dumping a body nearby. (In theaters and on Video on Demand.)
Former bad boy Jason Segel is a delightful revelation in this meaty true story of the five-day interview that Infinite Jest author David Foster Wallace gave Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) in 1996. Don’t miss it.
The title is half right: There are four of them.
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 a late-life romance with charming, wealthy retiree Sam Elliott.
This Disney/Pixar animated film burrows into the mind of a tween girl, where we meet her emotions — voiced by Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling, Lewis Black and Phyllis Smith. Not just a great adventure story but a meditation on how memories shape our lives. (FULL REVIEW)
Now 93, a retired Sherlock Holmes ( Ian McKellen) reopens the one case he could never solve, at the same time befriending the young son of his housekeeper ( Laura Linney). McKellen is fun as a man abashed by the legend that has grown up around him. (FULL REVIEW)
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Director Guy Ritchie’s fond reimagining of the classic 1960s spy series is set smack in the Cold War. Henry Cavill channels his inner George Hamilton as dapper Napoleon Solo; Armie Hammer plays Russian spy Illya Kuryakin just the way we envisioned Russkies back then: humorless and musclebound.
Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation
After parsing the title’s tricky punctuation, taking down an international terror group should be easy for Tom Cruise & Co. We’ve seen this nonstop whirl of double agents, impossible stunts and (literally) breathtaking challenges before, but nobody does it like Tom and the IMF. (FULL REVIEW)
Ricki and the Flash
Meryl Streep stars as a third-tier rocker who returns for a visit with her ex-hubby (Kevin Kline) and grown kids years after she abandoned them to follow her guitar dreams. Turns out — natch — they’re all just what each other needs right now. Rick Springfield plays her bandmate/boyfriend. (FULL REVIEW)
Shaun the Sheep
Let’s hear it for stop-action animation! From producer Nick Park ( Wallace and Gromit) comes this big-screen story of a sheep who heads for the big, baa-a-ad city — with calamitous results.
Southpaw yearns to be On the Waterfront or Raging Bull, but it never coulda been a contenduh. Though Jake Gyllenhaal transforms himself to play Billy “The Great” Hope, his scarred muscle mass and punch-drunk slurring can’t redeem the predictable script and derivative characters. (FULL REVIEW)
Straight Outta Compton
Director F. Gary Gray ( The Italian Job) chronicles the 1980s growth of hip-hop — arguably the most significant musical development since 1950s rock ’n’ roll — in this splendidly gritty story of the rise of rap group NWA. The ensemble playing Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and company is perfect; Paul Giamatti shines as Jerry Heller, the record producer who saw artistry in the group’s anger.
Those who fondly recall the raucous-but-soft-hearted 1983 Chevy Chase original may want to skip this rancid return trip. Ed Helms is fun as a grown-up Rusty Griswold retracing his family’s disastrous car ride, but the nastiness pervading the film should have been kicked to the curb.
A lso of Interest
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