Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 4/15/11

Rio (PG-13)
Starring the voices of: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway,, Jamie Fox, George Lopez
Directed by: Carlos Saldanha
During WW2, the US government wanted its citizens to feel sympatico with our amigos south of the Border, so they made a deal with the Disney Studios to create a series of travelogues and animated films featuring Latin American charcters and festivals. 1942’s “Saludos Amigos” starred Donald Duck and a parrot named Jose Carrioca as the host who introduced a series of mostly forgettable short films.  In anticipation of the Rio-based Olympics, and fresh from the “Ice Age” movies, Rio-born director Carlos Saldanha has a much more personal vision in this colorful and sprightly 3-D animated tale set in and around his hometown. The story follows a cerulean macaw named Blu who is kidnapped by smugglers and ends up in chilly Minnesota with a human girl named Linda.  Scientists tell Linda that Blu is the last male of his species, and so he has to travel down to Rio to mate with a macaw named Jewel. If you think the two won’t hit it off, raise your hand. If you think they will eventually fall in love, raise your hand again. Great flying sequences make this a must see in 3-D film.
3 pieces of 3-D makes this one better toast

Scream 4 (PG-13)
Starring: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Emma Roberts
Directed by: Wes Craven
Wes Craven not only got the Santa Rosa School Board to forbid him filming  the first “Scream” at Santa Rosa High School, he also taught audiences it was alright to yell “Don’t go in there…” to characters onscreen. Designed as a middle-aged, blast-from-the-past for baby boomers, the mature cast includes many stars from the original film, it disregards basic technological advances like caller-ID,and turns the screaming teenagers into bestselling authors who return to Woodsboro as a publicity stunt on the anniversary date of the murders. The result is predictable and kind of dull.
2 pieces of more squeak than scream toast

The Conspirator (PG-13)
Starring: Robin Wright Penn, James McAvoy, Tom Wilkinson, Evan Rachel Wood
Directed by: Robert Redford
Recalling the fear and paranoia Americans felt after the 9/11 attacks, this film takes a 21st Century look at 19th Century, post Civil War “justice.” Almost everyone in power believed the assassination of President Lincoln (and other attempted assassinations the same evening) were a Confederate plot to destabilize the United States. To stop this anarchy, John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators needed to be captured, tried and quickly hung as examples to other would-be terrorists. One of those arrested, was Mary Surratt, best online casino who ran the boarding house where the conspirators lived and held their meetings, and whose son was an active participant in the plot. Tried under military tribunal. Mary’s defense attorney is young Fredrick Aiken, a combat veteran primarily intent on marrying the girl he left behind and unaware what a social pariah he will soon become. Director Redford presents what appears to be injustice to our modern-day eyes as the prosecution disregards the protections of the U.S. Constitution in favor of maintaing civil order.
3 pieces of well-made historical toast

Potiche (NR)
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu’
Directed by: Francoise Ozon
With a title that is French slang for “trophy wife,” and a setting appropriate to 70’s sit coms, audiences are left to wonder “why” this film was made except to give its aging stars something to do. The formerly subservient wife of a womanizing factory owner, she ends up running the umbrella factory after the female workers go on strike. The workers are supported by the socialist town mayor, who, in typical sit-com style, had romantic entanglements with some of the women.
3 pieces of French farce toast


Last Continent (PG)
Narrated by: Donald Sutherland
Directed by: John Lemire
Planning to be trapped in Antarctic pack ice for nine months, the 12  scientists and crew aboard the Sedna IV, are unprepared for the series of disasters that befall them when global warming prevents the pack ice from forming. High winds, heavy seas jagged rocks spoiled food, loneliness and isolation take their toll until calmer seas allow divers and photographers to swim with humpback whales, play games on sheets of floating ice, and film creatures audiences have never seen up close before.
3 pieces of  almost unbelievable toast

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I (PG-13)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter
Director: David Yates
Finally sticking with a director who did well in two previous installments of this eight-part franchise, the filmmakers look forward to an eventual eight billion dollar payoff for the most successful film series ever made. The neophyte stars of a decade ago have grown up in these roles and know exactly what to do and how to do it. Hermione (Emma Watson) is lovely and smart, Ron (Rupert Grint) is loyal and steadfast, and Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) has finally accepted the fact that even though he is totally outmatched by the powerful forces of darkness, he is still the chosen one who must fight and destroy evil—or die trying. This is a film of set ups for the final episode, but also one of sacrifices and surprises (for those who haven’t read the book).
3 pieces of keeps us interested so we’ll come back for the final film