Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases for 5/20/11
Pirates goes off course,  Conviction has Pamela Gray in person

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (PG-13)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Geoffrey Rush
Directed by: Rob Marshall
First off, Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush and the shape-shifting mermaids are fantastic. Unfortunately, a director best known for his movie musicals (Annie, Chicago, Nine) has replaced action-adventure master Gore Verbinski, and it’s a bad fit. He presents the film as a series of acts (like in a musical),  with each one containing a well choreographed sword fight, brawl, battle or escape. The resulting lack of flow is jarring, and including historical figures like King George II, and Blackbeard the Pirate doesn’t help.
2 pieces of too much swash for the buckles toast

The Little Traitor (NR)
Starring: Ido Port, Alfred Molina
Directed by: Lynn Roth
Before Israel became a nation it was British Palestine, where the Jewish boy at the center of this film is taught by his terrorist parents that “hatred is forever.” But this absolute truth quickly becomes murky when the youngster’s plan to blow up an army truck is curtailed by meeting the kindly British sergeant who is the driver.
3 pieces of warmly presented coming-of-age toast

Conviction (R)
NOTE: Ky Boyd keeps his Rialto Cinemas alive with special presentations featuring a Q & A with screenwriter Pamela Gray at the Sixth Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa on June 8th
Starring: Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Minnie Driver, Melissa Leo
Directed by: Tony Goldwin
Sebastopol’s award-winning Pamela Gray wrote the screenplay for this based-on-a-true-story tale of a high school dropout who earns a law degree to help get her brother free from a murder conviction. Everyone involved is first-rate, and if the audience knows the outcome is pre-ordained (or it wouldn’t star two Oscar winners), then so be it.
MOVIE: 3 pieces of a crime he did not commit toast

The Mechanic (R)
Starring: Jason Stratham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland
Directed by: Simon West
The 1972 film by the same name starred Charles Bronson, and is best remembered for its wordless, 15-minute opening sequence where an assassination is meticulously developed. Flash forward to modern day New Orleans where an experienced hit man is training the grown-up son of his recently murdered mentor in between sexual liaisons with a gorgeous French Quarter call girl. Add a dollop of explosions, car chases, and tongue-in-cheek dialogue presented with the patented Stratham grimace or grin, and you have the backdrop to a well-constructed bit of escapism where the cleverness of how the hits are constructed and carried out is more important than the deeds themselves.
3 pieces of better than the original toast

The Rite (R)
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Alice Braga, Colin O’Donoghue, Toby Jones, Rutger Hauer
Directed by: Mikael Hafstrom
The title cards tell us there are Vatican-certified exorcists plying their trade today (fourteen in the US alone), so you would think there could (and should) be more to this story instead of just Anthony Hopkins now overly familiar bag of actor’s tricks and some updated special effects.

1 and 1/2 pieces of overacting toast