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Tuesday, June 27, 2017
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    Eleanor Ringel Cater

    Eleanor Ringel Cater
    Eleanor Ringel Cater, long-time movie critic for The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, also has been a regular contributor to CNN, MSNBC, Entertainment Weekly, Headline News and WXIA, Atlanta's NBC affiliate, and a columnist for TV Guide.
    Number of posts: 24
    Email address: email
    Subscribe to my RSS Feed: http://likethedew.com/author/ecater/feed/

    By Eleanor Ringel Cater:


      High on critics’ list: It’s ‘Up in the Air’

      by | 6, Add your Comment | Dec 16, 2009
      High on critics' list: It's 'Up in the Air'

      First, it was just NYC. Then people got huffy ’cause the New York Film Critics Circle didn’t make allowances for national reviewers. Say, the folks at The New Yorker or Time. Thus, The National Society of Film Critics which, to tell the truth, is still mostly New York and L.A., with a sprinkling of Boston and Chicago (and me … the sole yahoo from the South). Then so many writers relocated to the West Coast that there was a need for the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. As for The National Board of Review, well, apparently they have about a gazillion members and no one is quite sure who they are, but they always get a lot of press because they are the first to announce their winners every December — often, I have to say — without seeing all the movies that are opening in December. Now, there are […]

      Jerichow: No Postman and No Doorbell

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Aug 8, 2009
      Jerichow: No Postman and No Doorbell

      Now that just about everyone has seen JULIE & JULIA  (except moi; hey, if it worked for Kathleen … ), I thought I’d mention that, if you go to the Landmark Midtown in Atlanta and the Meryl Streep movie is sold out, give JERICHOW a try. It’s an odd — and oddly affecting — spin on James M. Cain’s “The Postman Always Rings Twice.” Set in Germany, this version might better be called “The Postman Always Rings Once.” Except there is no postman and no doorbell. Dishonorably discharged drifter and semi-lout, Thomas (Benno Furmann) helps out an alcoholic Turkish immigrant, Ali (Hilmi Sozer) when the man is too drunk to complete his collection rounds at several roadside snack bars he owns. So Ali hires Thomas as his driver and general helpmate. Thomas promptly helps himself to Ali’s lovely but aloof German wife, Laura (Nina Hoss) who’s not what you’d call […]

      ‘Revanche’ looks at ‘chaotic nature of fate’

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jul 23, 2009
      'Revanche' looks at 'chaotic nature of fate'

      A nominee for best foreign language film at last winter’s Academy Awards, the strangely eloquent Austrian film “Revanche” (translation: “Revenge”) is a tale of two couples whose paths cross in a tragically unexpected way. Alex (Johannes Krisch), a security guard of sorts at a Viennese brothel, falls for one of the working girls, a Ukrainian prostitute named Tamara (Irina Potapenko). She falls back. The problem: The power-brokers who run the operation don’t like the, er, staff to date. So Alex comes up with a scheme to free them both. He’ll rob a bank and they’ll ride off together into some sunset somewhere. Robert  (Andreas Lust) is a small-town cop who happens to get in the way, almost by accident. Destiny comes full circle when Alex becomes involved with Robert’s unhappy wife, Susanne (Ursula Strauss). Tidily directed by Gotz Spielmann, “Revanche” is a cynical contemplation of the sometimes chaotic nature of […]

      ‘Il Divo,’ part Nixon, part Corleone

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Jul 16, 2009
      'Il Divo,' part Nixon, part Corleone

      You think Italian politics are nutty now. Well, check out Il Divo at the Landmark Theater in Midtown Atlanta. Giulio Andreotti could be a character out of a Fellini film, but he’s the real thing. This besmirched but irrepressible former Italian prime minister, who was still a power figure in his 90s despite accusations of corruption, murder and Mafia ties, felt no need to make confessions. Instead, he merely shrugged as his enemies stewed. Paolo Sorrentino’s film (playing this week at the Landmark) takes the if-you-can’t-beat-’em-celebrate-’em approach to Andreotti’s long but checkered career. Don’t worry about the details of Andreotti’s reign or trying to follow the politics involved. Simply know that “Il Divo” is a frisky, unapologetic portrait of the politician as a scoundrel. Part Richard Nixon, part Don Corleone, Andreotti (expertly played by Toni Servillo),  eventually comes off as a tragic figure. Maybe …

      Home Movies: Storm the Barricades or …

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Jul 14, 2009
      Home Movies: Storm the Barricades or ...

      Bastille Day!!! Time to storm the barricades. Or rent these movies: START THE REVOLUTION WITHOUT ME (1969) Donald Sutherland and Gene Wilder star as twins literally separated at birth. One pair goes on to become bloodthirsty aristocrats especially skilled at fencing. The other becomes hapless peasants caught up in the French Revolution. The humor is very late ‘60s-silly, but much of it is still riotous today – especially Hugh Griffith as a senile Louis XVI. And yes, that’s Orson Welles, the BIG man himself, as the pompous narrator. A TALE OF TWO CITIES (1935) Classic Golden Age Hollywood with David O. Selznick tackling Charles Dickens before moving on to Margaret Mitchell. Selznick was the producer, not the director, but as was his wont, he ran the show as much as he could. A clean-shaven Ronald Colman stars as the “’tis a far, far better thing” hero, but Blanche Yurka steals […]

      The unsuitable suitor, Karl Malden

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Jul 3, 2009
      The unsuitable suitor, Karl Malden

      The death of Karl Malden may not amount to a hill of beans …. Wait,. wrong classic movie. THE classic movie, with which Malden would forever be associated with throughout his long career was “A Streetcar Named Desire,” for which he won an Academy Award (for best supporting actor) for recreating the role of Mitch, Blanche’s unsuitable gentleman suitor in the original Broadway production. Otherwise mostly known for his distinctively bulbous nose and role as Michael Douglas’s partner in the TV series, “The Streets of San Francisco,” Malden had the sort of rich and varied character-actor career that seems almost impossible today. His many movie credits range from “On the Waterfront” (another Oscar nomination) and “Baby Doll” (in which he was inappropriately hitched to the title character) to “Patton” (as Gen. Omar Bradley) and “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure” (don’t worry about it). The important thing is, he was stalwart and […]

      On the Wilder Side

      by | 6, Add your Comment | Jul 1, 2009
      On the Wilder Side

      I recently had the great honor to interview Gene Wilder. He was in Atlanta to visit his wife, Karen Webb’s, grown-up children who had moved South to work for Turner. Wilder is an original — quite possibly the most unique comic actor of his time. He was pummeled by Zero Mostel in “The Producers,” kidnapped by Warren Beatty in “Bonnie and Clyde,” rode West (in Rabbinical whiskers) with Harrison Ford in “The Frisco Kid,“ played Donald Sutherland’s mismatched twin in “Start the Revolution Without Me” (a great 4th of July choice even if it is about the French Revolution) and brought Peter Boyle to life in “Young Frankenstein.” A gentle man with a quiet (and decidedly quirky) sense of humor, Wilder is also a born story-teller. One of his favorites is how he agreed to play the title role in  “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Wilder insisted he make […]

      Woody Allen made me sad

      by | 11, Add your Comment | Jun 21, 2009
      Woody Allen made me sad

      While I was in a traffic jam yesterday, coming home to Atlanta from Maysville on I-85 (All Lanes Blocked …. dreaded words), I happened to catch an interview with Woody Allen on NPR. He’s doing press to plug his new movie, “Whatever Works,” which opens in Atlanta in early July. Movie sounds okay … more Allen-Angst, this time starring Larry David as the Woody surrogate and Evan Rachel Wood as the inevitable younger (much) woman … THIS TIME a Southern beauty queen with more dimples than brains. Anyway, I have a soft spot for Allen since he’s created more enduring works than failures … though the masterpieces, like, say “Annie Hall” or “Hannah and Her Sisters,” are getting to be distant memories. But listening to his interview, it struck me how time-warped he (and, sadly, his genius) is. The comments are what we could’ve heard 30 years ago, except for […]

      Happy Bloomsday: James Joyce in film

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Jun 16, 2009
      Happy Bloomsday: James Joyce in film

      Well, it’s Bloomsday — the day when James Joyce-eans all over the world take a minute to recall Leopold Bloom’s 24-hour Odyssey around Dublin over a century ago. As it happens, my husband and I were actually sitting at Davy Byrnes Pub on Bloomsday several years ago. Not a conscious choice, but guided there, we think, by the spirits of our friends the Grahams who would’ve loved to have been there in our place. So I began thinking about Joyce, whose books were always too dense for me. They were, in general, too dense for film, too. A man named Joseph Strick made movies out of “Ulysses” in 1967 and “Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man” about a decade later. “Ulysses,” which starred Milo O’Shea as the wandering Leopold Bloom, fared better. It suited the times more and even earned an Oscar nomination for best-adapted screenplay. What people […]

      Home Movies: Clint grows up in ‘Gran Torino’

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Jun 10, 2009
      Home Movies: Clint grows up in 'Gran Torino'

      “Gran Torino” might as well been called “Dirty Harry Grows Old…and Grows Up.” Clint Eastwood directed and stars in this surprisingly satisfying plea for getting along. He plays a cantankerous old coot who can’t accept that the ol’ neighborhood ain’t what it used to be. In fact, nothing, it seems, is like it used to be — except for his cherished Gran Torino which he safeguards in his garage like a buried treasure. However, he is forced to examine the nature of change and his own conscience when he is befriended by a Hmong family who’ve moved in next door. It’s a good trade-off: He protects them from the bullying gangs who now roam the neighborhood. They feed him and cuddle up like puppies. Ultimately, everything builds up to a final confrontation that may not be what you expected. Eastwood the actor is still mostly a glare and a snarl. […]

      Home Movies: Happy birthday, Donald Duck

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Jun 10, 2009
      Home Movies: Happy birthday, Donald Duck

      Hope you’re feeling ducky because yesterday was Donald Duck’s 75th Anniversary. Yep, he made his debut on June 9, 1934, in a Disney-ized version of “The Wise Little Hen.” He plays one of the farmyard animals who beg off when the titular hen asks for help for the harvest. His voice was provided by Clarence Nash who remained Donald’s spokesperson for 50 years. According to IMDB, Nash claimed he based Donald’s inimitable sound on his pet goat, Mary, who made a similar noise when she was hungry. Nash also provided the voices for Daisy Duck, and Donald’s nephews, Huey, Dewie and Louie, but in a higher octave. Known for his fine feathers, foul temper and sailor suit, Donald never quite had the same Big Screen career as his Disney colleague, Mickey Mouse. But he did appear with Daffy Duck (his Warner Brothers’ equivalent, species-wise at least) in 1988’s  “Who Framed […]

      Home Movies: Revolution and Defiance

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Jun 3, 2009
      Home Movies: Revolution and Defiance

      Arguably the best movie of 2008, “Revolutionary Road” arrives on DVD this week. Passed over by the Oscars and semi-ignored by many of the major critics’ groups, Sam Mendes’ searing look at a couple going under in late ‘50s suburbia has even more of an impact on the small screen. The intimacy of home viewing adds considerably to the growing claustrophobia that envelops both the movie and the main characters, expertly played by  Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet (yes, Winslet did win an Oscar, but it was for the infinitely inferior “The Reader.”’) Based on Richard Yates’ 1961 cult novel about being buried alive in the ‘burbs, the movie reunites those crazy “Titanic” kids, casting them this time as a slightly-Bohemian couple (they meet in Greenwich Village) now condemned to a life of gray flannel suits and neighbors like Kathy Bates who drop in for a morning cup of […]

      Home Movies: Valor … and ‘Blood’

      by | 1, Add your Comment | May 20, 2009
      Home Movies: Valor ... and 'Blood'

      Memorial Day is intended to honor American soldiers, but valor isn’t necessarily a matter of nationality. “Valkyrie” has just been released on DVD and it’s a strangely fitting Memorial Day movie. Based on the true story of a plot hatched by some German officers to assassinate Hitler in 1944, the film stars Tom Cruise as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, the leader of the group. Maimed in battle (Cruise sports an eyepatch and crippled hand), Stauffenberg is the stuff B-movie action heroes are made of: cunning, courageous and perhaps a tad less complicated than one would like (well, hell, a lost eye and a mad-dog Fuhrer are probably complications enough). Anyway — and I’m not spoiling anything for anyone, I hope — the plot fails, though more through a matter of bad luck than anything else. “Valkyrie” was released in theaters at Christmas and given its serious theme, hefty running time […]

      Home Movies: Mickey Rourke from the heart

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Apr 23, 2009
      Home Movies: Mickey Rourke from the heart

      For maybe a nano-second, I wondered if Mickey Rourke might not be the much-needed New Jack Nicholson. You know, the old warrior, godlike in his aura of sex-drugs-and-rock ‘n roll. To whom you’d cut when things got slow (as they inevitably did) on the Oscar show.  If HE was still having a good time (or so it seemed), so should we. Smilin’ Jack had become less of a fixture at award shows, Oscar or otherwise. Age, perhaps, has hastened his recent absences. Or, just as probably, no new nominations or noteworthy movies. Anyway, thanks to his extraordinary from-the-heart performance in “The Wrestler,” Rourke was a bonafide front-runner at this year’s Oscars. He’d already proved a fine cut-away, with his thumbs-up, camera-friendly, how-stoned-am-I grin and rambling but irresistible acceptance speeches. I mean, who else thanks their dog and makes an impassioned plea on behalf of Eric Roberts at his moment of […]

      The legends of the Old West … and Old South

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Apr 21, 2009
      The legends of the Old West ... and Old South

      “This is the West, Sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” It may be one of the most famous movie lines from one of the least famous movies … ever. If nothing else, it gives that dying breed, the newspaper writer, a bit of a grin. Them’s was the days … maybe. Edmond O’Brien plays the raffishly alcoholic editor of the Shinbone paper in John Ford’s late-career classic, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” But it’s a younger man — an inheritor of O’Brien’s proud windbag tradition — who actually says the line. It’s his “who-cares?” response to  a story told by distinguished Senator Ransom Stoddard (Jimmy Stewart)  after explaining  he’s NOT the man who shot Liberty Valance. That honor — and subsequent career-launching notoriety — belongs to Tom Doniphon (John Wayne). The Senator, who is now (1910) being quietly talked up as a potential Presidential candidate, has […]

      Postcard: Fear of (not) flying

      by | 7, Add your Comment | Apr 21, 2009
      Postcard: Fear of (not) flying

      Well, you asked for posts as we travel. Arthur and I are going to Austin on the world’s worst airline. Three guesses. Weather in Austin grounded us in Houston so we could refuel. Were then told we would have to wait for an hour because of line up of planes taking off. Now we are stuck on the tarmac for possibly hours and they will sell us food. Sell us food, sell us food, sell us food. Please post and e blast. Call it trapped on Delta. Trapped. Someone please help us. Sent from my iPhone

      ‘The Reader’ is better at home

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Apr 14, 2009
      'The Reader' is better at home

      Kate Winslet won her recent best actress Oscar for her work in “The Reader,” not the vastly superior “Revolutionary Road.” Yet, on a second viewing, her performance in “The Reader” is not only the best thing in the movie, but also provides a coherent emotional throughline, which, I think, one would expect to emanate from the Ralph Fiennes character (played as a teen by David Kross ). Perhaps that’s why I enjoyed “The Reader” more at home on DVD. What on-screen comes off as meandering, confused and self-important finds a focus when viewed on a more intimate scale. Instead of trying to follow the story — about a man (Fiennes) who learns the mysterious woman (Winslet) who’d taken him as a lover when he was a teenager is now on trial for Nazi war crimes — you can simply concentrate on Winslet, (and maybe glean some clue as to why […]

      Going for a Cruz

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Apr 9, 2009
      Going for a Cruz

      If you had any doubts that Penelope Cruz deserved a best supporting Oscar for “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” at the Academy Awards, take a look at “Elegy.” As a demure, sheltered Cuban-born literature student, she’s 180 degrees from the fiery ex-wife she plays in Woody Allen’s film. The movie, now available on DVD, is based on Philip Roth’s novella “The Dying Animal.” I am not a fan of Roth; never have been. So I figured I’d stay for part of the screening, then get out and let the venom pour. But “Elegy” surprised me. It’s a thoughtful, unflinching look at a selfish man’s life. That would be David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley), a veteran professor who teaches at the right kind of college, has won the right kind of awards, has just the right amount of fame (among the right people) and exercises a kind of droit de seigneur every year with […]

      Home movies: Let’s stay in

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Apr 7, 2009
      Home movies: Let's stay in

      The pickings are slim at the movie theaters this coming Friday. “Hannah Montana: The Movie” is, of course, inevitable in some households (but that doesn’t mean you have to look forward to it).  “Observe and Report” appears to be the Seth Rogen version of “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” (isn’t it thrilling when Hollywood latches on to the same idea at the same time, though I remember when a film cluster might mean dueling Wyatt Earps, not two movies about malls) and “Dragonball Evolution,” more plundered Japanese animation aimed at fanboys (also inevitable in some households). So, let’s stay in. Unfortunately, the home movie front is a bit uneven as well. The holiday releases are now in DVD rotation and that’s a good news/bad news scenario. Last week, we got Oscar’s best picture, “Slumdog Millionaire.” It’s a good movie, almost a great one. But there’s a major problem with the way […]

      No lie: Pinocchio turns 70

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Apr 6, 2009
      No lie: Pinocchio turns 70

      Time was, before DVDs and even, yikes, home videos, the folks at Disney kept their animated classics under lock and key. I’m not certain this was literal, no more than I’m certain Uncle Walt isn’t lying frozen inside the Cinderella castle. Anyway, as a marketing strategy it was pretty shrewd. Every seven years, as a new generation of prime-target tots came of age, Disney would release a film. It was a constant rotation, almost biblical in its consistency — like seven years of fat and seven years of lean. Except, mostly it was fat, with wonderful works of art like “Bambi,” “Fantasia,” and “Lady and the Tramp” returning to the big screen on a regular basis. But then came the home entertainment industry, which typically out grosses theatrical releases and the Disney machine applied its strategy to a different market — DVDs. And instead of a steady seven-year rotation, they […]

      Home Movies: Home is new Metro stop

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Apr 4, 2009
      Home Movies: Home is new Metro stop

      One of the best movies I’ve seen since I started reviewing in the late ’70s is Francois Truffaut’s “The Last Metro.” The picture, newly available on DVD, opened the 1980 New York Film Festival and I remember parts of it better than I remember some films I saw last month (please make your own joke about senility here). At any rate, “The Last Metro” is set during World War II, during the Nazi occupation of Paris. Actress/theater manager Catherine Deneuve keeps the curtain up while her Jewish husband, a famous director, hides out under his own stage. Complicating matters is a newcomer to the company: a handsome young and, yes, comparatively slim and, double yes, very sexy Gerard Depardieu, who threatens to become Deneuve’s new leading man off-stage as well as on. Truffaut, who, at 54, tragically died far too young of a brain tumor in 1984, is examining matters […]

      Ready for a close-up, Dunwoody?

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Mar 22, 2009
      Ready for a close-up, Dunwoody?

      Duplicity, the new romantic comedy/thriller starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, has a twisty globetrotting plot that takes the stars from Rome to London to New York to Miami to … Dunwoody? Yep. At one point in this convoluted but delightful film (courtesy of Tony Gilroy who also made “Michael Clayton”), there’s a wink and a nod from the once-and-forever sweetheart of Smyrna, Ms. Roberts. Or I at least assume it may have been her suggestion. As she and Owen are trying to find a crack in the seemingly uncrackable façade of a cosmetics giant, they discover the company has purchased a little building in … that’s right, Dunwoody, Georgia. Nothing recognizable is shown, just a generic brick building with something like Dunwoody Industrial pasted on its side. Still, several locals in my audience cracked up. Dunwoody … where high-flying corporate crooks funnel their ill-gotten gains!

      What are y’all saying?

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Mar 18, 2009

      Like kudzu, a Southern accent on film can be a bit overwhelming. And something of a sticky wicket. My own personal worst is Olympia Dukakis in “Steel Magnolias.” She sounds, at best, as if she’s starring in a summer camp production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.” Nicholas Cage’s Texas drawl in “Con Air” is pretty dismal too, but Texas is not my territory, accent wise or otherwise. So I’ll leave it to the Texans to decide for themselves. However, here are a few Southern accents, honeyed or not, I’m partial to (and this, please remember, is only a partial list; there’s more to come in another installment): Vivien Leigh: First as Scarlett O’Hara, the quintessential Southern Belle in “Gone With the Wind,” then as Blanche, the quintessential faded Southern Belle in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” She won Oscars for both. Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman in “Driving Miss Daisy”: […]

      Thinking about that tomorrow

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Mar 12, 2009
      Thinking about that tomorrow

      It’s been a solid 70 years since Scarlett O’Hara promised herself she’d think about that tomorrow. In the interim, a lot of people have been thinking about Scarlett. There’ve  been sequels, musicals, spoofs, a protest parody,  anniversary celebrations, even a museum And now there’s another book — likely the BEST book ever written about Scarlett, Melanie, Mammy, Rhett and the rest (aside from Margaret Mitchell’s little best-selling effort). Celebrated critic and journalist Molly Haskell has taken a long hard look at “Gone With The Wind” and the excellent result is “Frankly My Dear: Gone With The Wind Revisited” (University Press, $24). Though she’s lived in New York for decades with her husband, legendary film writer, Andrew Sarris, Haskell was born down South — in Richmond, Virginia. And she attended Sweet Briar College, which says volumes to certain Southerners. True, she’s been fully Yankee-ized, but as those same Yankees like to […]

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