Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases for 6/3/11
X-Men: First Class (PG-13)
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, January Jones
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
The “StarTrek” prequel showed it is not only possible to reprise a well -loved franchise by using intelligence and talent, but that with the aid of state-of-the-art FX, it can do it better. The original X-Men movie, which opened in 2000, was set in the “present day,” where the super-smart and telepathic Professor Xavier rides a wheelchair and his nemesis Magneto is a crotchety old man. So lets flash back to when Kennedy is in the White House, the world is focused on the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the young X-Man-to-be are just dazed and confused mutants striving to belong. Charles Xavier, an Oxford student sheltering a beautiful shape-shifting mutant named Raven, is recruited by the CIA to join forces with survivor of the Nazi death camps named Erik. Their goal is to thwart the evil genius of a former Nazi who is manipulating the USA and Russia into a nuclear war. Although talky sometimes, this works because of the talent both in front of and behind the camera. It even manages to survive the curse of having 6 writers!
3 and 1/2 pieces of refreshingly reinvigorated X-Men toast
Midnight In Paris (R)
Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Adrian Brody
Directed by: Woody Allen
Reprising elements from his “Purple Rose of Cairo,” and “Bullets Over Broadway,” writer/director Woody Allen lets characters cross the line between what is real and what might have been. In this case, the hero is an American screenwriter who resides in Paris with his Southern California fiance and her parents. Fueled with an overwhelming desire to chuck everything and become an expat novelist in the mold of Hemingway or F. Scott Fitzgerald, he willingly boards an ancient limousine filled with costumed revelers, and finds himself in 1930‘s Paris where Gertrude Stein welcomes Picasso and Salvador Dali to her Salon.
3 and 1/2 pieces of Woody Allen still has it toast
Starring: Hiam Abbass, Frieda Pinto, Willem Dafoe, Stella Schnabel
Directed by: Julian Schnabel
There is a lot of politics involved with this film. Ostensibly, it is the story of a school for Palestinian orphans in Israel. Founded after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, we come to know some of girls, especially Miral, a passionate Muslim teenager who rebels against her father’s pacifism. Frequently harassed and humiliated by the Israeli police, she is easily recruited as a terrorist by a handsome and caring PLO officer. With the autobographical book and screenplay written by the director’s live-in girlfriend (a political commentator on Italian TV), and starring Frida Pinto, the Mombai-born Catholic girl who played the Indian beauty in “Slumdog Millionaire,” the director can’t decide if he’s making a documentary, a soap-opera, or a polemic against Israel’s intransigence regarding the Palestinians. It’s a mess.
1/2 piece of what was Schnabel trying to do? toast
NEW ON DVD
Starring: Javier Bardim
Directed by: Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu
When a hustler father discovers he only has a short time to live, he tries to rekindle communication with his estranged children and ex-wife. Unlike “Everybody’s Fine,” a similarly themed Italian film starring Marcello Mastroianni, this lacks warmth and humor and instead wallows in guilt, self-importance, and depression.
1 and 1/2 pieces of why did this get nominated for an Oscar? toast
Drive Angry 3D (R)
Starring: Nicolas Cage, William Fitchner, Amber Hurd, Billy Burke, David Morse
Directed by: Patrick Lussier
Breaking out of Hell, a 3-time-loser named Milton teams up with a sexy waitress and steals her boyfriend’s muscle car to track down the evil cult leader who will sacrifice Milton’s infant grandchild as a means to release Hell on Earth. Unavailable for preview by critics, it turned out to be just as bad as it sounds.
1/2 piece of Nic Cage toast