Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases for 9/22/11
Starring: Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright
Directed by: Bennett Miller
Aaron Sorkin is one of screenwriters on this, and the scenes in the hallways and basements of men talking while walking, scratching, and chawing, have a rhythm all their own. The movie is based on the true story of a limping Oakland A’s constrained by a tight budget and the manager who has the brilliant idea of hiring an Ivy League geek to recruit players for their stats—rather than their price tag. The result is a fast, funny, insider’s view of baseball where home runs aren’t as important as singles or a well caught, pop-up fly, and success is measured by the final score.
3 and 1/2 pieces of Baseball with a twist toast
Starring: Taylor Laughner, Alfred Molina, Antonique Smith, Maria Bello
Directed by: John Singleton
Playing a Native American werewolf in those Twilight films didn’t demand much more than a shirtless, well developed torso, but this film about a young man who discovers his photo was once a missing poster on the side of milk cartons, requires acting skills. None are evident in the lead role, and the over-acting by the older people in the other parts only makes things worse. Singleton is a good director and should have made this work, but his chair might as well have been empty.
1 piece of don’t waste a dime on this toast
Killer Elite (R)
Starring: Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert DeNiro, Yvonne Strahovski
Directed by: Gary McKendry
The neophyte director is at a loss about what to do with the macho powerhouses assembled for a weak-scripted, “based on a true story,” B-movie that could have gone straight to video (except for the salary demands from the big names). An ex-special-ops agent teams up with his older mentor to track down an Australian sociopath who threatens the world order (whatever that is). Trouble is, the good guys kill just as many innocents and destroy just as much real estate as the bad guys. No winners here—no moral codes either. Just kill or be killed, and to Hell with whoever gets in the crossfire.
1 and piece of violent and cliched toast
Dolphin Tale (PG)
Starring: Harry Connick Jr. Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, Kris Kristofferson, Morgan Freeman
Directed by: Charles Martin Smith
A young female dolphin severely damages her tail escaping from a trap, and when the tail has to be amputated, rescuers know she will die soon. Incredibly, a band of disparate individuals come together to create a prosthetic tail for the animal which will let her swim and survive. The director who chased wolves and ate prairie dogs in “Never Cry Wolf” knows how to pull our heartstrings in a shamelessly manipulative, family-friendly way—but it works.
3 and 1/2 pieces of this ain’t no Flipper movie toast
Point Blank (R)
Starring: Gilles Lellouche, Gerarde Lanvin, Mirelle Perrier
Directed by: Fred Cavaye
When a male nurse’s pregnant wife is kidnapped before his eyes, he finds himself trapped between rival gangs in a battle of life and death. Tight, taut, and brilliantly acted, directed and shot, this is the way a thriller should be made. It reminds me of “Tell No One” a few years ago. Inexplicably shown in very few theaters, it’s coming to Santa Rosa. Don’t miss it!
3 and 1/2 pieces of thrilling French toast
Life Above All (NR)
Starring:Khomotso Manyaka, Lerato Mvelase, Keaobaka Makanyane
Directed by: Oliver Schmitz
When her baby sister dies from an undisclosed illness, a 12-year-old in a South African township must buy the coffin and make other arrangements for grieving. But things quickly go from bad to worse when suspicion rises that AIDS is the cause of death, and the family is ostracized. When her school chum becomes a prostitute to make money for her family’s survival, the threat of disease and death stalking the streets becomes even more personal. Fortunately for audiences, the ending is upbeat, but it’s a long and intense 102 minutes.
3 pieces of astoundingly honest toast
NEW ON DVD
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Jill Clayburgh
Directed by: Paul Feig
Just when you thought the marriage comedy had died, this film comes along to prove how talent can set things right. Despite the trademark Judd Apatow scenes of grossness and ribaldry (Apatow is the producer), this is a sweet, slightly off-kilter view of the rite-of-passage of being a bridesmaid. Doomed to wear expensive, ill-fitting, unflattering outfits (so you won’t upstage the bride) and thrust together with a random group of women who happen to be friends or relatives of your friend (or relative), this film tells it like it is with a mixture of humor and honesty from the bridesmaids point-of-view. How refreshing. Melissa McCarthy (who just won an Emmy for her title role in “Mike & Molly”), steals the movie.
NOTE: The DVDs come in several versions with increasingly gross scenes featuring copious amounts of expelled body fluids.
3 and 1/2 pieces of here comes the bridesmaids toast
The Strange Case of Angelica (NR)
Starring: Pilar Lopez de Ayala, Felipe Vargas, Luis Miguel Cintra
Directed by: Manoel de Oliveira
Screened at Cannes, but seldom seen in this country, the 102-year-old director finally made the movie he has been thinking about for over fifty years. When a photographer is commissioned to take a picture of a young dead woman, he falls in love with her beauty and becomes obsessed with her image. What could be creepy, instead becomes Chaplinesque as a very old man considers the transient nature of love and life. Very art-house, very personal, and often quite lyrical, some sequences are filmed as a silent movie while folk songs or quiet instrumentals are played. No one fashions films like this anymore, and it’s a delight to see an old master at work.
3 pieces of old-fashioned in a good sense toast