The opening of The Beguiled is lush on every level: Mist hangs in the moss-draped trees as a young girl goes out mushroom-picking, her singing underscored by an uncanny low rumble. We’re in the Civil War South, so that rumble must be battle, a muffled sound that barely intrudes on the idyllic scene. This is director Sofia Coppola in signature mode, creating voluptuous sights and sounds that disguise a serious deficiency of ideas. The Beguiled may be the most inert of Coppola’s films, a vapid cruise through an isolated hothouse. Along with its other shortcomings, it’s not nearly as interesting (and nowhere near as perverse) as the 1971 film that precedes it, directed by Don Siegel and starring Clint Eastwood.
Adopting a bear is not recommended as a real-world option, even if the bear is small and cute and stranded on the platform at a London train station. Make a note of this. In the non-real world, the concept of bear adoption has worked out just fine for Michael Bond, the English author of the “Paddington” stories. (He’s still around, age 89.) Since debuting in 1958, his books about the amiable bear from “darkest Peru” have been consistently popular with kids and grown-ups alike.
Paddington has popped up as a TV character before, but — somewhat surprisingly, given the success rate of films based on familiar kid-friendly characters — not in a movie. Paddington rectifies this omission. And this mostly British production is a winningly bright and funny feature, as befits the lovable main character.