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The Old Man & the Gun (2018)

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Decided to see this movie over the weekend after reading that it was likely to be Robert Redford's last screen role.  It was pleasant and amusing, with Redford showing a charming side that I don't recall seeing from him in a long time.  Great to see Sissy Spacek onscreen, too.  Casey Affleck did an excellent job.  But the performance that struck me the most was Ari Elizabeth Johnson as Affleck's daughter.  Such a natural performance from a child!

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I just got back from seeing this, and I really enjoyed it tremendously!  Robert Redford was so, well, happy and polite.  :)  Although it was very obvious that he/his character had, in fact, ridden a horse before.  He just did not act like someone who hadn't.  But everyone did a great job, and now I have to go look up the actual true story of Forrest Tucker.

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If this was him closing out his career, good way to do it! I loved that this is a guy who just genuinely loves crime and playing with the cops. I was expecting a heavy drama but I liked the whole light touch aspect to it- this isn't a broken down guy who wants to change but can't, and it's not a gritty crime drama. It's just a caper movie about a guy who loves capers and the cop who wants to get him, but realizes in the end that he liked the chase more than he really liked trying to get the guy.

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I wanted to see this because I had loved David Lowery's previous film, A Ghost Story. I liked a lot of things about it (Old Man & The Gun): the retro visual style, as if it really were a film being made in 1981, down to the film stock and the font of the credits; the honest, up-close way Lowery shoots creased faces and finds wonder in eyes that still glint; the sweet late-in-life romance of Redford and Spacek, and the ambiguity of how much Spacek's character is aware of; the completely offhand, just-a-thing treatment of the other main couple's mixed-race marriage (Tika Sumpter brought such beauty and warmth to a small role).

Except for Redford, who is perhaps too much of a matinee idol ever to vanish, the actors really disappeared into their roles. It took me a while to recognize both Danny Glover and Keith Carradine, as many things as I've seen them in, and I never did recognize Tom Waits. Even when the movie was over and I saw his name in the credits, I had to work backward to think of who he had been, and of course it was so obvious. That's embarrassing, because I am a big fan, there are few more distinctive speaking voices, and he talks a lot. I assume he contributed the "why I hate Christmas" anecdote in the bar, because in retrospect it did sound like a story he would slip in between songs. Elisabeth Moss, Isiah ("Sheeeeit!") Whitlock Jr., and John David Washington were bonuses.

I thought Casey Affleck was excellent as the main law-enforcement foil. The character wasn't any of the standard cop tropes. Affleck can say a lot just by raising his eyebrows at a cupcake with a candle in it, and I liked the subtle theme of this case as a 40th-birthday present to him, something that rekindles his interest in his work.  His eventual face-to-face confrontation with Redford in that men's room really crackled, in its low-key way. It's not a popular thing to say right now some places, but I'm more likely to see something if Affleck is in it, because he has interesting taste in projects and always seems to be good. He's been in three of Lowery's four films to date. Maybe they're shaping up as one of those partnerships (De Niro/Scorsese, Depp/Burton, Murray/W. Anderson, et cetera). 

To call this a masterpiece would be deadly to it, but it's a pleasurable little film: light on its feet, full of sharp dialogue, nice performances, and likable characters on both sides of the law. Lowery was born in 1980, and some of these actors were probably already a little past the height of their stardom at the time he started seeing movies, but his direction of them has some fan love about it. 

Edited by Simon Boccanegra
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