‘Ad Astra’ and ‘Downton Abbey’ offer grown-up entertainment

A scene from the film ÒAd Astra.Ó Credit: Francois Duhamel/Twentieth Century Fox
(Twentieth Century Fox)

“The Reel” host Mark Olsen talks with Times film critics Kenneth Turan and Justin Chang about “Downton Abbey” and “Ad Astra.”

Jim Carter in "Downton Abbey" the movie.
(Jaap Buitendijk / Focus Features)

Two films designed for grown-ups hit theaters this weekend.

“Ad Astra,” a space thriller starring Brad Pitt, takes a moody, meditative approach to science fiction.

Director James Gray invests in character development and emotion, and the film is that rare fusion of blockbuster spectacle and thoughtful sensibility, says the Times’ Justin Chang (@JustinCChang).

Chang also tells host Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) that the plot of “Ad Astra” is “kind of preposterous,” but that’s why he likes it.


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Pitt delivers a memorable performance, holding long close-ups as the camera gazes deeply into his eyes — the kind of scrutiny not many actors can pull off.

“Downton Abbey” picks up where the beloved television series left off, with 20 of the regular characters showing up in the theatrical release.

There’s an optimistic, uplifting spirit to the film, and the Times’ Kenneth Turan (@KennethTuran) tells Olsen that “Downton Abbey” offers an escape from the unrelenting news days of 2019. It’s a comforting, far-away world in which problems are solved and everything works out.

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