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Is That You, God? It’s Me, Morgan Freeman

Weekend Preview: Freeman’s quest; Jazz Greats Gone Wild

Morgan Freeman in 'The Story of God'

Courtesy of National Geographic Channels/Seth Nejame

Morgan Freeman in “The Story of God”

Morgan Freeman doesn’t play the title role in the National Geographic Channel’s new six-episode series, The Story of God (beginning this Sunday), but he sure sounds like Him.

Resplendent in a cream-colored Panama hat, the velvet-voiced Freeman travels the globe from Egypt to India to Guatemala, searching for answers to cosmic questions as old as humanity.

“I’d like to say it was fun,” Freeman tells Movies for Grownups, “but that would trivialize the experience too much. I had never been to Israel or India — and I’d never climbed a pyramid in Guatemala before! And let me tell you, even though they’re both spiritual places, the Vatican in Rome and Varanasi in India are two very different places. The Vatican is pristine; Varanasi is dirt! You’ve got some grit there. Cremations on the Ganges, people bathing in there. That is dramatic.”

Tom Hiddleston in 'I Saw the Light'

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Tom Hiddleston in “I Saw the Light”

British star Tom Hiddleston sees nothing odd about playing country legend Hank Williams in the new biopic I Saw the Light. The long, lanky London-born owner of a fine singing voice also pulls off a convincing Southern accent.

The fact is, Hiddleston tells Movies for Grownups, the British love Dixie.

“For us, it’s exotic,” he says. “It feels authentically American, like an ancient aspect of American culture. The Beatles loved it; the Rolling Stones loved it. They were listening to the blues. They were listening to Hank.

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: A fond farewell to Patty Duke, 69, an early friend of Movies for Grownups. For our radio show in 2004, the Oscar winner and former president of the Screen Actors Guild told us this sobering story of Hollywood ageism.

New in Theaters

Miles Ahead
Producer-director-writer-star Don Cheadle does everything but run the catering truck for this heartfelt bio of Miles Davis, told through flashbacks as the drug-addled genius spends a long night tracking down a stolen session tape. It’s a jumble out there, but Cheadle is brilliant as the troubled trumpeter.

Everybody Wants Some!!
In the “spiritual sequel” to his 1993 high school comedy, Dazed and Confused, writer-director Richard Linklater (Boyhood) presents an aimless weekend in the life of some circa-1980 college students. Sadly, it turns out a lot of those kids are as insufferable as you remember them.

Born to Be Blue

Ethan Hawke is tragically endearing as 1950s jazz legend Chet Baker, in a biopic that riffs freely ’twixt fact and fiction.

Still Out There

* Designates a Movies for Grownups Editors’ Choice

10 Cloverfield Lane

A veil of secrecy surrounded producer J.J. Abrams’ follow-up to his 2008 monster epic, Cloverfield. But this new one has John Goodman in the lead — and that’s good enough for us.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

The first two hours are spent setting up the unique conditions under which Superman and Batman can fight on equal terms. By that time, they (and we) have forgotten what they were mad about. FULL REVIEW

* Eddie the Eagle

Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) brings an earnest naiveté to the role of ungainly British ski jumper Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards. Hugh Jackman is a cranky delight as his coach, a washed-up former ski champ. FULL REVIEW

Eye in the Sky

Helen Mirren stars as a British commander who must decide whether to risk killing an innocent girl in a drone strike on a terrorist training camp. The performances are universally excellent — especially that of the late Alan Rickman, in his final film role. FULL REVIEW

* Hail, Caesar!

Those crazy Coen brothers (Fargo) present this delightful ensemble piece about a 1950s studio head (Josh Brolin) dealing with the kidnapping of his biggest star (George Clooney). FULL REVIEW

* Hello, My Name Is Doris

Sally Field is magnificent as a 60-something office worker pursuing an unlikely crush on a handsome young coworker (Max Greenfield). FULL REVIEW

I Saw the Light

British actor Tom Hiddleston (Thor) effects a surprisingly authentic twang as Hank Williams, the self-destructive star who defined country music in the 1950s. 

* The Last Man on the Moon

This thrilling, inspiring, beautiful documentary about Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan revels in a time when the nation could agree on a common goal. 

* Mia Madre

Director-cowriter Nanni Moretti’s extraordinary study of a film director trying to balance work with her caregiving responsibilities to her dying mother strikes one visceral chord after another.

Miracles From Heaven
Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah costar in this faith-based film about a mother whose daughter not only survives a terrifying accident but finds herself miraculously cured of a “fatal” digestive disorder.  

* My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

The cast of the 2002 original is back, as boisterous and big-haired as ever. Michael Constantine and Lainie Kazan shine as 70-somethings who learn that, because of a clerical error, their 50-year marriage is not legit. FULL REVIEW

The Program

Ben Foster stars as disgraced cycling champ Lance Armstrong in this biopic from director Stephen Frears (Philomena, The Queen).

Race

The story of Olympic champion Jesse Owens is faithfully captured in this often-thrilling biopic starring Stephan James (Selma) as Owens and SNL alumnus Jason Sudeikis as his coach. FULL REVIEW

* Remember

Christopher Plummer is mesmerizing as a nursing home resident suffering from dementia who sets off on a cross-country bus trip to kill a Nazi war criminal. FULL REVIEW

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Tina Fey headlines as a cable news producer who gives up her cushy lifestyle to cover the war in Afghanistan. Her no-nonsense commanding officer: Billy Bob Thornton.

The Young Messiah

This adaptation of Anne Rice’s 2005 novel, which speculated on the childhood of Jesus Christ, was directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh (The Stoning of Soraya M.).

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