Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases for 10/28/11
Puss In Boots steps up, Take Shelter taut thriller
Puss In Boots (PG)
Starring the voices of: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, Amy Sedaris, Guillerom del Toro
Directed by: Chris Miller
It isn’t essential that you live with a cat to enjoy this movie, but if you do, you will love it. I got captivated by the suave but kittenish Puss In Boots in the Shrek movie, and wisely, the filmmakers have chosen to make this a prequel. Clad in a plumed, cock hat, leather boots, and a swashbuckled sword, this feline is both a lover and a fighter. Pursuing any kitty girl who catches his eye, he is still ready to combat his former friend from the orphanage, that hard-boiled arch villain, Humpty Dumpty. Playing fast, and breezy, with tongues firmly planted in their cheeks, the actors have a field day portraying characters from fairy tales and nursery rhymes with a twist. For example, Jack and Jill are greedy Southern gothics with accents to match.
3 and 1/2 pieces of I live with a cat toast
Starring: Rhys Ifans, Joely Richardson, David Thewles, Jamie Campbell Bower, Ed Hogg
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
The German director who specializes in end-of-the-earth-as-we-know-it films crammed with special effects (Independence Day, Godzilla, 2012) seems an odd choice for a film about a historic cover-up from the Elizabethan era. The premise is that a nobleman named Edward de Vere, is forced by his dour Puritan in-laws to hide the fact that he writes the increasingly popular, anti-establishment plays attributed to an itinerant actor named William Shakespeare. An equal-opportunity conspirator, de Vere lets Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlow take credit for a few of his plays as well. The whole thing is filled with shadowy darkness, soulful eyes, frantic scribblings and ink-stained fingers, but for me, it lacks the clever wit and whimsy of Shakespeare In Love.
2 and 1/2 pieces of unsubstantiated rumors toast
The Rum Diary (R)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Giovanni Ribisi, Amber Heard
Directed by: Bruce Robinson
Way back in 1988, Johnny Depp played his friend, gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas. Since then, Depp has been trying to get the prequel made with himself in the lead. Set in Puerto Rico, the supposedly younger journalist pals around with other writers from the San Juan Star, and catches the attention of a latest land developer intent on pirating the island’s treasures. There’s a smattering of sex, casks of rum, and what must be a gallon of LSD consumed as the hero struggles with writers’ block—”I don’t know how to write like me.” But, although he’s trying to play younger than before, Depp is two dozen years older, and despite the choppy, gonzoish camera work, the film lacks any real energy.,
2 pieces of for those who love Thompson and Depp toast
In Time (PG-13)
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Johnny Galecki, Olivia Wilde
Directed by: Andrew Nicol
The parallels between the Occupy Wall Street sit-ins and this film are inevitable. In a not-to-distant-future, the 1%ers live for a long, long time, while the other 99% has a downward-spiraling digital clock on their arm which tells how much time they have left to live. In the classic (but now terribly dated) 1976 film “Logan’s Run,” everyone died when they reached their thirtieth birthday. In this film, people can beg, borrow or steal time from others who literally mortgage themselves. It is a time when “the poor die, but the rich don’t live.” Barricaded in their plush time fortresses, the rich live long, jaded, and very dull lives—perhaps providing us 99%ers with the comforting belief that life at the top has little to offer.
2 and 1/2 pieces of expected a stronger third act from the director of Gattaca toast
Take Shelter (R)
Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham Kathy Baker
Directed by: Jeff Nichols
Just when you thought the armageddon-prophecy movie genre had been super-saturated, a taught, well-made thriller comes along to surprise you. At the center, is the character brilliantly played by Michael Shannon—an ordinary suburban Ohio dad drilling test holes in a sand quarry. This every-man starts having dreams—of black oil-rains, flocks of murderous birds, and a pet turned into a ferocious beast. Taking his dreams as a sign, he starts retrofitting the old, backyard storm shelter as a place of protection so his family can survive whatever is to come. Not surprisingly, his wife, friends and family think the man has gone crazy, but it all may come down to a misinterpretation of the dream’s true meaning.
3 and 1/2 pieces of wisely focused on one man and his family toast
NEW ON DVD
Captain America: The First Avenger (PG-13)
Starring the voices of: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanly Tucci, Derek Luke.
Directed by: Joe Johnston
This retro-looking movie was inspired by a Marvel comic book and is saddled with the problem of trying to provide the “origins of” backstory for a super hero while tying it into comics which weren’t even on the drawing boards when the hero first appeared in print (i.e. The Avengers and Ironman). But with the aid of a well-crafted script, the director of “Jumanji,” “Hidalgo,” “October Sky,” and “The Rocketeer,” pulls it off. We start during WWII, when a wannabe soldier is labelled 4F—unfit for military service. So the classic 98-pound weakling volunteers for a top-secret Charles Atlas program that literally stretches and molds him into shape. Instead of embracing their new super-soldier, the Army dresses him in a patriotically colored skin-tight suit and sends him on a publicity tour. Meanwhile, the evil Nazis are creating their own brand of super soldier by using the Norse God Odin’s power source. Do we sense a battle coming?
3 pieces of Marvel Comics toast
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
Winnie the Pooh (G)
Starring the voices of: Jim Cummings, Craig Ferguson, Bud Luckey, Tom Kenny, Travis Oates, Kristin Anderson-Lopez, John Cleese, Zooey Deschanel
Directed by: Stephen J.Anderson, Don Hall
The classic A.A. Milne story first was a lovable 1966 Disney feature film narrated by Sebastian Cabot and featuring the very recognizable voice of Sterling Holloway as the “bear with little brain.” But today’s youngsters exist in media overload, and so the studio decided to “re-imagine” the story for the here and now. The result is exceptionally well done. The story line is tighter, the computer generated drawings sharper, and the pacing clips along (the film is a brief 63 minutes). But the best of the original—the quest for huney, the importance of friendship, the quirkiness of each character—these are left intact, and the result is delightfully entertaining visit to a very kind and gentle world of childhood.
3 and 1/2 pieces of Hundred Acre Wood toast