Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 7/01/11

Larry Crowne (PG-13)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Cedric the Entertainer, George Takei, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wilmer Valdarrama
Directed by: Tom Hanks
The fickle finger of fate has selected Larry Crowne for the three BIG D’s—Divorce, Downsizing, and Default and he can’t do anything about it—except by going back to school. I liked how Larry spent little time wallowing in his fate. He collects information, considers his options, and then makes decisions and acts on them. For example, when he notices that a motor scooter fills up at the gas station for under four dollars, and his SUV guzzles over $75 for a fill up, Larry haggles for the nifty scooter Lamar has for sale.
In a true transformation, the scooter not only saves Larry a lot of cash, it also opens up the whole new world of pocket chains, Feng-Shui, hip haircuts, groovy threads, and a vivacious group of young people who teach a middle-aged man almost as much as his Community College classes do.
3 pieces of nice and corny toast

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (PG-13)
Starring: Shia LeBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, John Malkovich
Directed by: Michael Bay
Although human beings are listed as the stars of this Michael Bay expolosion, a product placement Camero is the real star. Conspiracy theorists will shout “I told you so,” when the plot reveals that NASA has been hiding the fact that a buried spaceship was discovered on the moon, and real-life astronaut Buzz Aldrin is on hand to add veracity to the cover-up. 70‘s pop culture references will be lost on the adolescents who will make this another success in online casino’s the franchise. For the rest of us, it’s too loud, too stupid, and too superfluous.
2 and 1/2 pieces of Michael Bay toast

Monte Carlo (PG)
Starring: Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, Katie CAssidy
Directed by: Tom Bezucha
A Texas waitress’ Parisian trip turns into package-tour boredom until she is mistaken for a snooty British jet-setter and she and two new-found friends fake their way to Monte Carlo for some decidedly PG wish fulfillment.
1 and 1/2  pieces of old gags recycled poorly toast

Buck (PG)
Starring: Buck Brannaman
Directed by: Cindy Meehl
The real-life horse whisperer who served as consultant on Robert Redford’s 1998 movie by the same name, is featured in this documentary.. As shown onscreen, most often, horses are brutalized and literally “broken” in body and spirit by traditional “cowboy” methods. I have a nephew who travelled the world learning how to train horses using “gentling” techniques similar to those Buck employs, and the results captured on film are truly amazing. Unfortunately, too many things are about than actually captured for the audience to see. This first-time director, could have used a more seasoned hand behind the camera and in the editing room.
2 pieces of interesting for the horsey set toast


Season of the Witch (PG-13)
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Clair Foy
Directed by: Dominic Sena
In 1957, Ingmar Bergman made “The Seventh Seal,” a film classic about a disillusioned knight returning from the Crusades only to discover his feudal holdings awash in the Black Plague. To bargain for his life and the lives of others, the knight literally plays a game of chess with Death. The great Swedish director didn’t show us the rapes,  decapitations, and wholesale Holy Land slaughter which caused the knight to reject Christianity. However when director Dominic Sena was “inspired” by Bergman’s film to make “Season of the Witch,” he choses to encapsulate twelve years of gruesomely bloody battles in a seemingly endless montage. There is so much excess here, that when two armor-wearing Crusaders look to each other and agree “This killing must stop,” we wonder why it took them a dozen years to reach this conclusion. The pair return to their superstitious home town where capturing, caging, hanging and drowning beautiful young witches is the reality show of choice. Nicolas Cage acts woodenly throughout. Ugh!
1/2 piece of caged toast

Sucker Punch (PG-13)
Starring: Emily Browning, Jena Malone, Abbie Cornish, Jamie Chung
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Using the “actors in front of a blue-screen” style developed for his “300,” Zack Snyder creates video game backdrops and CG-enhanced cleavage and crotch shots in a film purportedly championing female empowerment. Based upon popular themes in Manga (the pornographic Japanese cartoons where nubile female victims trapped in mental institutions, prisons, schools, dungeons, brothels or hospitals are sexually exploited by males, females and something in between called Futanari), this film somehow manages to eke out a PG-13 rating. Here, a young woman named Babydoll is sent to a mental institution for a lobotomy by her stepfather. Summoning imaginary saviors called Sweet Pea, Rocket, Blondie and Amber, implausible escapes are attempted and battles waged against Godzilla and Transformer type enemies. Adolescent males will love it.
2 pieces of logic and the laws of physics don’t apply toast