Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases for 3/11/11
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogan, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Blythe Danner
Directed by: Greg Mattola
The filmmakers imagined what things would be like if a movie alien acted like Jack Nicholson did in the classic road movie, “Five Easy Pieces.” The result is a movie with lots of inside jokes that people who enjoy TV’s “The Big Bang Theory” will find amusing but are lost on the rest of the audience. The set up is that a space alien captured in 1947 escapes and hits the road with his captors on his tail. He teams up with a couple of “regular guys” which is good since, the alien’s English is peppered with four-letter-words and multiple references to assorted bodily functions.
2 pieces of I expected something better toast
The Music Never Stopped (PG)
Starring: J. K. Simmons, Lou Taylor Pucci, Julia Ormond
Directed by: Jim Kohlberg
The bestselling neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote a book about a young man with a brain tumor who is “stuck in the past.” The man’s estranged father tries to reconnect with his son by using the music of his youth.
Unavailable for preview
The Lincoln Lawyer (R)
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomeii, Ryan Phillipe, William H. Macey
Directed by: Brad Furman
A lawyer whose office is his automobile, unexpectedly finds himself defending a rich client who may actually be innocent. Stylishly directed in a Los Angeles we are familiar with from post-noir detective tales, this film has some standout performances, some reasonable plot twists and an entertainment value that hints at several sequels.
3 pieces laid back LA toast
The Tempest (PG-13)
Starring: Helen Mirren, Felicity Jones, Ben Whishaw, Chris Cooper, Djimon Hounsou
Directed by: Julie Taymor
Noted for her exceptional effects, director Julie Taymor has succumbed to the Terry Gilliam syndrome, where the just-for-the-heck-of-it special effects overwhelm the performance. Filmed as a gender-bending version of Shakespeare’s classic play, a group of exiled aristocrats are trapped on island populated by the spirits of the air and the earth. When a shipwreck strands the king who banished these people from their native land it also provides for romance and foolery. The actors, bellow, whisper, and drone the poetic lines but are often drowned out by the rock-guitar soundtrack.
Noble gesture, badly executed.
1 and 1/2 pieces of trying too hard toast
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro, Abbie Cornish
Directed by:Neil Burger
Although neurologists debunked this years ago, most of us believe that we only use about 10% of our brainpower. This film’s premise is that a single pill can let someone use all of his little grey cells, and be able to write a novel in a week, learn languages in a day, play the piano like a maestro, and pick up beautiful girls as easily as finding porn on a computer. The filmmakers chose to tell the tale from the point-of-view of a failed novelist named Eddie Morra and when he pops the pill, they use prismatic lenses, strobe lights and other experimental visual effects overused in the late 60’s to “get inside his head.” Just when we think things are back to normal, the pill’s side effects kick in and we suffer the pains of withdrawal. All this artsy-fartsy stuff is surrounded by a wannabe thriller involving Russian mobsters and vividly visual violence.
1 and 1/2 peces of everything old is new again toast
NEW ON DVD
Starring: Matt Damon, Cecile DeFrance, Jay Mohr, Bryce Dallas Howard
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
A London school boy missing his dead brother, a vacationing French journalist caught in a tsunami, and a San Francisco construction worker cursed with the ability to commune with dead people, all manage to come together in the carefully orchestrated manner of Eastwood minimalism. The result is both brilliant and slow-paced, leaving the audience with few answers to death’s biggest questions but a feeling of hope for people we care about.
3 and 1/2 pieces of toast
The Fighter (R)
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, Amy Adams
Directed by: David O. Russell
Mickey Ward, a boxer who can “take a punch,” is surrounded by Monday-morning-quarterbacks. His drug-fueled half brother, his frying pan wielding mother, his seven harping sisters and everyone in the bars and pool halls of Lowell, Massachusetts constantly offer advice on how he should have fought his last bout. But he meets this girl see…and Mickey’s brutal business and loveless lifestyle could change for the better. Oscar-worthy performances elevate this dark, slice of true-life, film to its “must see.” status.
3 and 1/2 pieces of brutal fighting toast