Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases for 1/21/11
No Strings Attached (R)
Starring: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline, Greta Gerwig
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
The girl is the one who suggests that she and the guy she has know since summer camp should add benefits to their friendship, In fact, since friendship takes so much time and commitment, she only wants the sex. Following her lead, the bedroom scenes in the film are great, but the one-liners masquerading as a script lack commitment. Too bad. The premise had potential.
2 and 1/2 pieces of trapped by the “romantic comedy” cliches toast
The Way Back (PG-13)
Starring: Jim Sturges, Colin Farrell, Ed Harris, Saoirse Ronan
Directed by: Peter Weir
In the 1950s, a Polish refugee wrote a book about his escape from a Siberian prison and his harrowing 4000 mile trek to freedom in India. Abetted in his trek by an enigmatic American, a member of the Russian Mafia, and a Polish girl they meet along the way, this unlikely group combats the sub-zero climates, natural roadblocks, and unimaginable tracts of barren nothingness in a literally chilling (and somehwat unbelievable) tale of determination and survival.
3 pieces of long walk toast
The Company Men (R)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Maria Bello, Kevin Costner
Directed by: John Wells
It’s hard for us to have warm fuzzy feelings for the men in expensive suits with fancy cars who are downsized by their conglomerate and then scream, cry, bluster, bargain, lie, and break down as a result. But because of the talents involved (and because audiences want to like the guys onscreen), we compassionately identify with them. The guys are a salesman, his mentor, the Board Chairman, and an oldtimer who has been through this process before and has managed to survive. Each acts, and then reacts in a different way and that is what provides the fascination.
3 pieces of company crumbling toast
NEW ON DVD
Director: Morgan Spurlock, Rachel Grady, Eugene Girecki, Seth Gordon, Alex Gibney, Heidi Ewing
The bestselling book by an economics professor and journalist gets a “60 Minutes” style overview as different documentary filmmakers focus their cameras on quirky questions like “Does your name determine your destiny?” or “Does bribing teenagers to get good grades (and a limo ride with a rock star) work?” The result is uneven and only works half of the time.
2 pieces of freakodocs toast
Starring: Matt Dillon, Idris Elba, Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris, Chris Brown
Directed by: John Luessenhop
Recycling tried-and-true bank robbers clichés and professional stunt work, the plan is for audiences to root for the very likable crooks who don’t intend to do any harm, but reluctantly have to kill anyway, and therefore elevate the crime to one which captures the attention of a couple of LAPD detectives who are (predictably) under investigation by Internal Affairs.
1 and 1/2 pieces of seen this before toast
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Samantha Mathis
Director: Rodrigo Cortes
People who suffer from claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces), are warned to avoid this unpleasant but well made movie about a man who wakes up buried underground. With only a Zippo lighter and cellphone for light, we eventually see and then hear why this man is trapped six-feet-under. After this film is done, you will never be able to think about the US military-industrial complex and the wars in Iraq in the same way.
3 and 1/3 pieces of confined terror toast