Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 2/11/11
The Eagle (PG-13)
Starring: Jamie Bell, Channing Tatum, Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong, Tahir Rahim
Directed by: Kevin MacDonald
At the northern outpost of Roman Britannia, a young commander attempts to regain the Empire’s glory and his family honor by reclaiming  the eagle standard his father lost twenty years earlier. This means battling against the fearsome warriors called the Painted Seal People and using all the CG special effects (with slo-mo blood and guts) people have learned to tolerate on TV’s “Spartacus.” But this film without women lacks the gratuitous female nudity and sex provided viewers on cable TV, and gives us lots of wordy, pontification with lines like “The eagle is not just a piece of metal. It is Rome.”
Two pieces of why do these movie Romans speak with Alabama accents? toast

The Illusionist (PG)
Starring the voices of: Eildh Rankin, Jean-Claud Donda
Directed by: Sylvain Chomet
Hand-animated, with pointillist backgrounds of European cities and landscapes, and a script by the long-dead French actor/filmmaker Jacques Tati, this delightful, and melancholic movie is a throw back—perhaps the last of its kind. The story involves an itinerate stage magician whose profession is vanishing as quickly as the music halls where he used to perform. He begins traveling with an orphaned, teenage girl—a youngster more interested in what’s new than what used to be—and it is this dualistic view of  the world that adds poignancy to the questions “What is real?” and “What is important.”
4 pieces of nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar toast

Oscar Nominated Short Films 2011 (NR)
Starring: Various
Directed by: Various
Shorts International and Magnolia Pictures have once again assembled the majority of the short films nominated for this year’s Oscar. Screened in only 150 select theaters across the country, the shorts are divided into two program categories (Animated and Live Action), and each collection has a separate admission price.
4 pieces of Oscar-worthy toast

Gnomeo and Juliet (G)
Starring the voices of: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Maggie Smith, Jason Stratham, Ozzie Osbourne, Hulk Hogan
Directed by: Kelly Asbury
Not content with stealing the story from William Shakespeare, the filmmakers unwisely add Elton John’s songs and rhinestone-studded persona along with dozens of other, dated pop-culture references to what was supposed to be a tragedy. But of course, those plaster statues cluttering up your great aunt’s garden aren’t really alive. So why, with belief suspended, did they resort to the “lets throw it against the wall and see what sticks” approach?
2 pieces of mediocre Disney toast

Biuitiful (R)
Starring: Javier Bardim, Maricel Alvarez, Eduardo Fernadez
Directed by: Alejandro, Gonzalez, Inaratu
After a man learns he has only a short time to live, he follows a friend’s advice and attempts to get everything ready for his departure. It’s not an easy task. The man’s life is messy—he uses Africans to import Chinese laborers to Barcelona for his gangster brother who is sleeping with his estranged (and mentally ill) wife while trying to care for two young children.
Attempts at redemption and reconciliation backfire. Things get steadily worse, and the audience is left with a sense of “why am I here watching this?” Until, when the lights come up, Bardim has somehow made it all work.
2 pieces of very arty toast

Go With It (PG-13)
Starring: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman, Dave Matthews
Directed by: Dennis Dugan
A few people in Hollywood apparently think jokes about botched plastic surgery (ruptured breast implants, misaligned facial features) are funny. The same group finds it amusing to have a lying, bar-hopping womanizer, convince his harried, single-mother assistant that she (and her kids) should pretend to be his family so he can bed a beautiful 20-year-old. Ugh!
1 piece of don’t bother to go with it toast

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (G)
Starring: Justin Bieber, Usher, Miley Cyrus, Jaden Smith
Directed by: Jon Chu
The singing teen-age heart throb du jour appears to be a really nice guy in this “no warts at all” documentary leading up to Bieber’s sold out concert at Madison Square Garden. Fans wanting songs will be delighted, but anyone looking for something from the singer’s mouth that hasn’t been vetted by his image makers will be disappointed. The closest thing to a revelation is when the star-maker who signed Bieber after seeing him on YouTube video says he thought: “Wow. It’s the Macaulay Culkin of music.”
2 and 1/2 pieces of sing, sing a song toast

Paranormal Activity 2 (R)
Director: Tod Williams
Building upon the premise of the original—that nothing is more frightening than what you imagine in your own home in the dark of the night—the filmmakers ratchet up the silences and then grab you with some “did-you-see-that?” movie magic. The fact that a Hollywood-sized budget hasn’t corrupted the integrity of the first indie production is almost unheard of, so kudos to all involved.
3 and 1/2 pieces of quite scary toast
Never Let Me Go  (PG-13)
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield
Director: Mark Romanek
In Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, the futures of the children who attend a school in the British countryside, is left unclear, and the filmmakers originally wanted to maintain this sense of uncertainty. But audiences quickly assume the truth, and begin to wonder instead about other issues such as ethics and morality. Partway into the film, one of the teachers takes it on herself to reveal the truth to the children. They have been created in a laboratory to provide spare parts for people bred in a more conventional way. And here is where the biggest questions come from. Why do the donors react the way they do when they learn the certainty of their fate? This is a movie that asks questions that deserve answers and offers love as a potent hope for survival —at least for a brief time.

4 pieces of see it with someone else so you can talk about it afterwards toast