‘Saving Private Ryan’
Do we have to start thinking of Tom Hanks as a relic? Movie stars have been usurped by superheroes at the box office, and apart from his stints in the “Toy Story”’s and as symbologist/crime-buster Robert Langdon, our modern Jimmy Stewart has lost some of his once-mighty stature. So while we nervously await how well his Clint Eastwood movie “Sully” does — and see if people will still fork out for dramas that aren’t on TV — how about holing up with one of the actor’s biggest glories? We honestly haven’t watched Steven Spielberg’s 1998 war grinder in ages, but the parts that are good (its opening Omaha Beach assault, that epic final battle) are for the ages. And you’ll get to grumble about the passing of an era, when the number two movie of the summer was a gruesome, tough-nosed, three-hour WWII movie, not just another toon about talking animals.
The “High-Rise” movie should have been the perfect film for 2016. J.G. Ballard’s novel, from 1975, brings us the adventures of a group of apartment denizens who crumble along with their building, turning to feral tribalism, murder, even dog-eating. And here we are, most of us letting our ids get unlocked by the Internet, some of us even letting a madman candidate activate our worst instincts. But the latest from Ben Wheatley (“Sightseers”) isn't the perfect film for 2016. It doesn't quite get the novel. But that, sort of, is OK. The film works as its own crazy, mischievous thing, with Tom Hiddleston, Elisabeth Moss and Sienna Miller leading the pack as richies who leap full-tilt boogie into chaos and destruction and clogged toilets. Ballard deserves something even bleaker, but Wheatley has a knack for the kind of darkly comic sight gags that would have made even the gloomy author chortle.
There are too few classics living on Netflix these days, so good news! The “True Grit” that dwells there now isn’t the Coen brothers one but the one that nabbed John Wayne his Oscar. Granted, the first stab at Charles Portis’ dazzling novel isn’t the superior one; the Coens really did improve on the 1969 version, starting with replacing stiff Glen Campbell with a hilarious Matt Damon. But Jeff Bridges could only ever be the equal, if that, of Wayne’s take on Rooster Cogburn — a grizzled lawman who helps a young woman (here Kim Darby) find the psycho who killed her father. The Academy Award the Duke received was really a reward for a lifetime of awesomeness. But don’t underestimate his fine work here, in which he continued to find nuances and heartache and playfulness in a shtick that never got old, even when he did.