A Petaluma360 Blog

Cinema Toast

Gil Mansergh reviews new movies and videos

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is only for fans


This is a Do-It-Yourself review. Pick one of the following as the one-word synopsis of the third in the Hunger Games quartet, Mockingjay Part 1:: 1. Grim, 2. Dark, 3. Dull, 4. Foggy, 5. Worthless. Whichever you chose, it is a fair summation of a film designed as a money-stealing, for-fans-only, time-waster (as well as for movie-goers who believe jumpsuits are fashion’s future and a bow and arrow can bring down a hover-copter).… Read More »

Great Week For Great Acting


The beautiful Afro-English actress who shone brightly in the title role of the period drama Belle, continues to excel by playing a hip-hop artist at the cusp of mega-stardom in Beyond the LIghts. Responding to the sudden and unexpected attention, the tea-totaling singer gets drunk and stumbles onto a high balcony to kill herself. The rookie LAPD cop stationed outside her hotel door quickly becomes her only lifeline. But this particular cop faces a moral dilemma—his police captain father is grooming him for politics, and being labelled a “hero” to a scantily-dressed ingenue in the tabloids could be the end of his father’s ambitions.… Read More »

Nolan’s Interstellar is stellar, Disney’s Big Hero is heroic


Aided and abetted by the excesses of the 20th Century, in a near future, “the blight” has turned much of the world into a dustbowl in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. One of those excesses was exploring space—billions of dollars and a not inconsiderable amount of rocket fuel blasted into the atmosphere. But the solution to mankind’s survival may reside with a former astronaut-turned-farmer selected to travel through a worm-hole in search of Terra-like planets. The only misstep in this jaunt is the filmmaker’s need to explain the quantum physics behind the journey. Since a large portion of the population continues to ignore the scientists’ concerns regarding global warming (aka climate change) it is doubtful that this group of ostriches will buy tickets to the film. The rest of us (lets call us “believers”), were weaned on Star Trek and Star Wars and Memento, which never really tried to explain the science, and we don’t need it this time either. By the way, the film is stunningly awesome to watch—see it in the biggest and best theater you can.… Read More »

Michael Keaton Oscar-worthy in Birdman


When I talked with Michael Keaton at a film festival in the Sebastiani theater a few years ago, he was the epitome of the “whatever happened to?” actor, taking roles in independent films and doing voice-overs for animated features. So it is easy for Keaton to slip into the shoes of a character who also played a spandex-suited superhero onscreen. Under Inarritu’s masterful direction and paired with master-class actors, Keaton shines in a film that is crisp, taut, and mind-blowingly creative. It revolves around a stageplay that the former movie superhero perceives as his shot at redemption—not only as an actor, but as a father and human being. This one is special, and it’s not too early to suggest that Keaton’s performance and the movie Birdman are Oscar-worthy … Read More »

Viewing List for “Women In Film Presentation” at Healdsburg Rotary

Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast     Avatar—PG-13 (2009) Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriquez, Sigourney Weaver Director: James Cameron 
“Avatar” gives us several powerful females. The one with the bow-and-arrow is Zoe Saldana as the blue-skinned Na’vi named Neytiri. Sigourney Weaver wears a Stanford T-shirt to show that Dr. Grace Augustine is both smart and strong as the leader of the Avatar team, and Michelle Rodriguez plays gyro-pilot Trudy Chacon, as a gutsy, no-nonsense warrior—equal to or better… Read More »

Bill Murray plays grumpy Walter Matthau type in St. Vincent


Bill Murray is relaxing into old age playing a series of increasingly grumpy bachelors. In Theodore Melfi’s St. Vincent, he’s Vincent McKenna, living in a Brooklyn row house conveniently close to his bookie, his prostitute, his bar and the Belmont race track. Vincent’s life starts to change when a new, single-mom neighbor moves in next door with her 10-year-old son, Oliver. Due to a plot device, Vincent ends up babysitting Oliver, and he has him tag along while visiting the various dens of iniquity. Turns out, that as a Jewish kid, Oliver is having trouble fitting in at the Catholic school where his mother has enrolled him. You see, there’s all those saints to learn about, and the bullies on the schoolyard, and…. You get the drift. Not surprisingly, all this schmaltz takes a decidedly somber turn so Murray can adopt his earnest, “serious actor” face. So what if he keeps forgetting which accent he’s using or which leg has the limp, it’s Bill Murray! … Read More »

Rohmer’s A Summer’s Tale is best bet


French filmmaker Eric Rohmer created this movie 22 years ago, but it is now in American theaters for the first time. It is a disarmingly simple tale of a young mathematics student on a beach vacation for the purpose of running into a girl who casually mentioned she may be headed that way. She is nowhere in sight, but the student/waitress is friendly, and she introduces her customer to a wildly sensual young woman—which is the moment the previously absent girl appears. It is a lyrical, poetic film, with no dialogue for long stretches broken up by casually intense conversations that may not lead anywhere. Rohmer once said he wanted to look at “thoughts rather than actions”, dealing “less with what people do than what is going on in their minds while they are doing it,” and that precisely defines A Summer’s Tale.… Read More »

Brosnan sells out, Iceland’s scenery is beautiful, and The One I Love is worth seeing.

One I Love movie poster 2014

By appearing in this film, Pierce Brosnan has lost my respect as an actor (even more than his terrible singing in Mamma Mia). In November Man, the former James Bond plays an assassin brought out of retirement who shoots anyone who he thinks might be a threat(to him (or to the Russian defector he is trying to protect or to the street hot dog vendor—in short, anyone who comes into his line of vision). I use clips from James Bond films to show how women have become more and more victimized in movies over the past 50 years. No longer content to just show a gold-plated woman dead on a bed, in this film, director Roger Donaldson (and too many other filmmakers) include up-close-and-personal torture and rape scenes of unclothed female victims. Ugh!… Read More »

This Week is Aimed at Niche Audiences


The gruesomely bloody stylized comic book of artful mayhem and madness in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, has prompted me to create a new warning acronym—WEP (Wear Ear Plugs). This is because the visuals of gouged out eyeballs and samurai sword decapitations are brutal enough, but the slurrshy, sliccy sound effects takes things over the top. Apparently created for a niche audience of nihilistic young men, the story is told in a series of chapter-like tales held together by the setting—a seedy, smoke-filled strip club. It’s been nine years since the first Sin City collaboration, and the technical aspects in this one are even better, but the blood-fueled story is decidedly not for everyone. NOTE: The MPAA has banned one poster for the film prominently featuring Eva Green’s breasts.… Read More »

The Giver is good, everything else is bleh!


In the dystopian future of Lois Lowry’s mega-popular 1993 Newberry winning YA novel, The Giver, a teenagers’ position in society is determined by a Council of Elders. The book has millions of fans, and they should be pleased with the filmmakers’ reverence to the source material. Because he can see colors and other’s cannot, the young hero is chosen to be a Receiver of Memory. One of the perks that comes with this elite job, is getting to know a bearded, hermit-like wise man who shares what the world used to be like. The teens of this future, are saddled with the financial, social, scientific, political and environmental disasters created by greed, intransigence, and failed leadership. The parallels are obvious, and although it takes awhile, our teen hero does got to go on a physical quest as well as a metaphysical one.… Read More »