Weekend: Bond, Beatles, Boston — and Charlie Brown

An instant classic, the newest James Bond movie and a visit with favorite old comic-strip pals make this a good weekend to hit the cineplex. You homebodies, meanwhile, can curl up with the Beatles and two of the year’s most memorable films.

 

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 Designates a Movies for Grownups Editors’ Choice


 

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Spotlight
This is one of the year’s best films. Like the crusading newspapermen and -women it honors, Spotlight doesn’t shut down until it gets the story right. Michael Keaton stars as the hard-nosed Boston Globe editor who coached his ace reporters ( Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams among them) through their outing of pedophile priests — and a diocese-wide conspiracy to conceal their heinous crimes.


 

Spectre
In his fourth turn as James Bond, Daniel Craig comes face-to-face with a nemesis who has dogged 007 since 1963’s From Russia With Love: The villainous international crime ring known as SPECTRE. Director Sam Mendes seems to think we care about Bond’s murky backstory, when in fact we pay money for the breathtaking action scenes — and those, happily, don’t disappoint. The opener, a 10-minute, single-shot mini masterpiece set against Mexico City’s Day of the Dead, may be the most pulse-pounding of the entire 007 franchise.

 

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. The Peanuts gang makes the transition to 3-D animation seamlessly, thanks to the creators’ wise decision to render their now-rounded faces with that same flat, squiggly line that Schulz perfected in 50 years of drawing them. The story has to do with Charlie trying to impress the Little Red-Haired Girl; the charm comes from revisiting some of the most enduring characters ever invented.

 

New on DVD, Blu-ray and Video on Demand

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The Beatles 1+
“You could say the Beatles invented MTV.”  George Harrison wasn’t far off when he said that! The hottest live act of the mid-1960s couldn’t be everywhere at all times, so they produced a series of promotional films that would be called music videos today. This spectacular DVD/Blu-ray set, spanning the Fab Four’s career from “Twist & Shout” (1963) to “Real Love” (1995), presents 23 newly restored films. Each is a treasure, and together they chronicle the astonishing artistic progression of the eight brief years of the world’s top rock band. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr provide commentaries.

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Inside Out
Everything about Pixar’s imaginative tale of a tween girl and her emotions is perfectly right — from the ingenious premise to the eye-popping animation to the transcendent voice characterizations by the likes of Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling and Amy Poehler. Sophisticated in ways few animated films dare to be, Inside Out is the rare movie that delights in the moment, then lends itself to thoughtful discussions afterward.

She’s Funny That Way
Peter Bogdanovich returns to form in this frothy tale of a playwright ( Owen Wilson) caught in a love triangle with his wife, her old flame and a heart-of-gold hooker.  Jennifer Aniston is funny as a shrink entangled in the mess (“You don’t joke with your therapist!”). Also popping up: former PB gal pal Cybill Shepherd.

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 The End of the Tour
Jason Segel” and “cerebral”: We’ve never used those two phrases in one sentence, but the former gross-out guru is a delightfully thoughtful revelation in this meaty true story of a five-day interview that  Infinite Jest author  David Foster Wallace gave  Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) in 1996. Fans of grown-up movies shouldn’t miss it.

Vacation
Those who fondly recall the raucous-but-soft-hearted 1983  Chevy Chase original may want to skip this return trip. Ed Helms is fun as a grown-up Rusty Griswold retracing his family’s disastrous car ride, and there are some clever gags en route. But the nastiness pervading the film should have been kicked to the curb.

 

Enjoy life with our popular games, delicious new recipes, the latest movie review and more! — AARP Leisure Newsletter »

 

Still in theaters (Click on Titles for Movie Trailers)

Black Mass
Johnny Depp re-emerges as one of our best actors with his exquisitely calibrated channeling of  James “Whitey” Bulger, the small-time Boston hood who became a big deal with the unwitting help of the FBI. As his G-man handler, Joel Edgerton seems too easily corrupted; we wish the film had spent more time with Whitey’s brother Bill, a respected and powerful president of the Massachusetts Senate, masterfully played by  Benedict Cumberbatch(FULL REVIEW)

Bridge of Spies
Yes,  Steven Spielberg is our latter-day Frank Capra and  Tom Hanks his Jimmy Stewart, and this is their latest triumphant celebration of an Everyman exemplifying everything that makes America great. This time, in a true-life Cold War-era story, Hanks is a modest New York lawyer assigned to negotiate the trade of a Soviet agent for U-2 spy-plane pilot  Francis Gary Powers.

Burnt
Bolstered by a welcome appearance from  Emma ThompsonBradley Cooper stars as a chef desperate to gain his third Michelin star — but we’ll always be partial to the far-tastier  Chef with  Jon Favreau and  Big Night with Stanley Tucci.



Freeheld
Diagnosed with terminal cancer, a New Jersey police lieutenant ( Julianne Moore) battles her bosses to gain pension benefits for her young domestic
partner (Ellen Page). Steve Carell plays her champion, a civil-rights activist. Based on a true story.

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VIDEO: 1950s Icon Tab Hunter chats with us about living in the closet at the height of his fame…and what he thinks of the Pope’s outreach to gay Catholics.


 

Grandma
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.  (FULL REVIEW)

He Named Me Malala
This documentary about  Malala Yousafzai — the Pakistani teen who survived a bullet to the head after advocating education for girls — makes you wonder: What would  you be willing to endure in the name of freedom?

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Robert DeNiro is perfect as a 70-year-old retiree who attacks his boredom by enlisting in a “senior intern” program at a hip online-fashion company. The experienced newcomer has a lot to teach the young whippersnappers — especially company founder  Anne Hathaway, scrambling to keep her footing in the office and at home.



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The Martian 
NASA’s announcement this week that there’s  flowing water on Mars would have been welcome news for Mark Watney (Matt Damon), the NASA astronaut stranded on the  Red Planet in director Ridley Scott’s instant sci-fi classic. Damon’s as endearing as ever as he coolly  MacGyvers his way through one crisis after another.

Our Brand Is Crisis
Sandra Bullock’s new movie about American political strategists helping a Bolivian presidential candidate rebrand himself could have been a funny film that made a serious statement about politics. As it is,  Crisis mopes along, only rarely giving us wacky scenes (which feel airlifted in from another movie). With his shaved head,  Billy Bob Thornton was born to play political hired gun  James Carville.

Rock the Kasbah
If it’s  Bill Murray you want, this one’s for you, Bud: He’s front and center in this shaggy-dog tale about a shady music promoter who discovers a beautiful teen singing in an Afghan cave. How he came to be in that cave and how he gets home barely matter; instead, director Barry Levinson unleashes his star to do whatever he wishes. With fun appearances by  Bruce Willis, Zooey Deschanel and Kate Hudson.

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Room
Bring a hanky. Make that a box of ’em. Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay are extraordinary as a mother and her five-year-old son who escape after being held captive in a single small room for the youngster’s entire life. With  Joan Allen and  William H. Macy. Based on the book-club favorite by Emma Donoghue.

The Second Mother
Brazilian star Regina Casé is brilliant as a housekeeper whose modern-minded daughter comes to stay at the home where she works in São Paulo, only to scandalize Mom and her employers with her disregard for class boundaries.

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Steve Jobs
At times as infuriating as the angry, selfish, abusive and brilliant figure at its center, Aaron Sorkin’s script visits the  Apple founder (Michael Fassbender) at three pivotal moments in his life and career. Lining up to jawbone with him in classic Sorkin manner are his ex-girlfriend (Katherine Waterston), his longtime partner (Seth Rogen) and the Apple CEO ( Jeff Daniels) who oversaw Jobs’s ouster from the very company he created.

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Tab Hunter Confidential
Warner Brothers’ biggest star of the late 1950s — the heartthrob icon of films, TV shows and even records — managed to conceal his homosexuality throughout his big-screen career. Narrating this funny and disarmingly honest documentary, Tab Hunter is a good-natured guide through his own ups and downs. In a refreshing change from most tell-alls, Hunter harbors no grudges, relishes his successes and waxes philosophical about his failures. Along for the ride are friends Robert Wagner, Clint Eastwood, Robert Osborne and Debbie Reynolds.

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Truth
The best part of this account of how CBS newsman  Dan Rather was brought down by a scandal surrounding a story he reported in 2004 is  Robert Redford’s performance as Rather. Scorning makeup, Redford channels the anchor with the subtlest of mannerisms, including a wisp of a Texas twang. Cate Blanchett is excellent as his embattled producer.


The Walk
Acrophobes, shield your eyes. The rest of you should see this on the biggest screen you can, and shell out the extra dough for those 3-D glasses: Robert Zemeckis’s thrilling account of how Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) walked a high wire between the  World Trade Center towers in 1974 will leave you à bout de souffle.

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