The Old Man & The Gun

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

The Old Man & The Gun

The Old Man & The Gun is quiet, slow, and questionable. The main reason to go is to salute Robert Redford by seeing his final film. Now, however, Mr. Redford has announced in a recent interview that he had such fun making this one that he may well change his mind about retiring. Whether you decide to go should depend on how you feel about this movie actor who has given us great pleasure over the decades. Without him, this movie wouldn’t last long.

We are presented with Forrest Tucker (yes, Robert Redford), a man possessed by a dream. He has found his life’s pleasure, excitement, and challenge in robbing banks. Now and then he serves a jail term when caught but that doesn’t dim the fun of planning his heists.

He has created his holdups artistically. With the good looks of a fit older man dressed in a business suit, he enters a bank, quietly reveals the unloaded pistol in his jacket and asks politely for the money in the teller’s drawer. What Redford does so well is to convey not just the calm of the thief but his quiet, deep pleasure in the theft. This is one man who loves his work. When he leaves the bank with a box full of cash, he wears a very gentle smile. He did it again.

The movie’s many subtleties may well be pleasure for the elders among us, but will young people love it? No one will ever hear Robert Redford raise his voice. When he sees Jewel (a very fine Sissy Spacek) trying to fix her broken car by the roadside, he pulls over to create with her a lovely first meeting that you may have to be older to appreciate. The acceptance by each of the other’s eccentricities makes young courtship look foolish. The few lovely scenes where they share their affection are beautifully done.

We have met a man whose pleasure comes from escaping and outwitting police and prisons. He’s done just that many times, and as we watch him when he’s quiet, we know he’s planning his next heist. This is the perfect part for Robert Redford. The bank robber hasn’t a false or fake note in him; he just loves what he does. But it’s repetitious and slow. If you can handle that, both Redford and Spacek win us over with warm performances. Those of us old enough to remember their old days will probably like it more than those who are very young.

Seeing Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with my whole family years ago is an enduring memory for me. All ages of us loved it. In The Old Man & The Gun we love Redford for not trying make himself look younger than he is. If you’re feeling sentimental, you may appreciate the gentle old bank robber who loves his work. If not, you might find the movie interminably slow.

Film Critic : Joan Ellis
Film Title : The Old Man & The Gun
Word Count : 497
Running Time : 1:33
Rating : PG-13
Date : 21 October 2018


A Simple Favor

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

A Simple Favor

A Simple Favor hands us the gift of unpredictability. After dutifully trying to follow its early twists and turns, we realize there’s no point to that so we settle in to enjoy its craziness. What unfolds is quite like movies of the ‘40s and ‘50s when audiences didn’t ask comedies to make sense; they just asked them to make fun. That happens here.

The story opens with a tall woman in theatrical dress and behavior striding to pick up her little son at school. Her son Ho is the best buddy of Joshua and their mothers meet in what is one of the most unlikely friendships a scriptwriter could imagine. Emily (Blake Lively), the stately, gorgeous mother of little Ho introduces herself to Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), the relaxed mother of Joshua. Our initial instinct: these two mothers will detest each other.

Emily lives in the grand luxury of a modern mansion where she is married to English professor Sean (Henry Golding) who appears rarely and seems to love his wife but doesn’t understand her for a second. Neither do we. Emily cultivates a friendship with Stephanie that results in Stephanie becoming caretaker for Emily’s little boy along with her own son. And then – wonder of wonders – Emily disappears.

When that happens, Stephanie goes into high gear in search of her new best friend. The police are called, the husband stays on hand, and Stephanie spends the rest of the movie putting the pieces of the mystery together. None of those pieces makes any sense at all, but just forget that and enjoy watching Stephanie as she moves through the search that leads the audience into one silly situation after another. But wait. The whole ridiculous story has become fun – a little like eating a bowl of ice cream instead of your vegetables.

It’s possible, nearly probable, that you may sink happily into the zany situations created by the principals. Henry Golding is the most appealing of the actors. His Sean loves the mysterious and magnetic Emily without understanding anything about what makes her who she is. As Emily, Blake Lively creates an imposing woman always sophisticated in manner, motion, and dress. She does it well because we never stop trying to fathom the why of her behavior.

As Stephanie, Anna Kendrick does a fine job of changing her clothes, hair do, and behavior from ordinary school mom to the woman she would like to be as sophisticated friend to both Emilie and Sean. The nice thing about the trio is that no one is mean, just wacky. Anna Kendrick does a fine job of mastering several personalities for Stephanie as she moves among cultures and people in the search for her friend Emilie. Give a big hand to director Paul Feig who somehow sensed at the outset that he could make great fun of a gang of people who had nothing in common. He has given us the fun of the impossible.

Film Reviewer: Joan Ellis
Film Title : A Simple Favor
Running Time: 1:57
Word Count : 496
Rating : R
Date : September 30, 2018