Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast


New Releases for 11/11/11


J. Edgar (R) 

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench, Josh Lucas

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood’s biopic about J. Edgar Hoover, the bulldog-faced head of the FBI for almost half a century, made me wonder what Oliver Stone would have done with the story. The same week the film was released, audiotapes made by President Nixon during the Watergate investigation were made public. In a nutshell, Nixon’s interviews come across as a self-serving, ambiguous, and stonewalling collection of words and phrases. The same problem is at the core of “J. Edgar,” where the story evolves from the journals Hoover dictated to his secretary—the woman he first proposed to and then made his employee after she said “No.” Because of this narrow perspective, the doors to Hoover’s secret closets remain tightly closed, and we only catch an occasional glimpse through the keyhole—the momma’s boy whose most enduring relationship is with his male assistant, and who delights in collecting and cataloguing the sexual peccadilloes of Hollywood stars, corporate executives and politicians while aggressively pursuing his “war against the Bolsheviks.”

2 and 1/2 pieces of a nice treatise on aging but Hoover’s faults flossed over toast 


Immortals (R)  

Starring: Mickey Rourke, Stephen Dorf, Henry Cavill

Directed by: Tarsem Singh

Like the ground-breaking movie “300,” this film was made with the actors doing their scenes in front of a green screen and the special effects added later. But where “300” had a strong story and script, “Immortals” feels like it was written by a committee of unemployed (fill in the blank with whatever profession you like as long as the job doesn’t require any writing) who got all their ideas from the Wikipedia entries under “Ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses.”

1 piece of the Gods are Displeased toast


Revenge of the Electric Car (R)
Starring: Bob Lutz, Elon Musk, Greg Abbott
Directed by: Chris Paine
In 2006, Chris Paine’s documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” empowered audiences with the sequence where General Motors literally crushes the dreams of carbon neutral activists by destroying every single one of the electric-powered, EV1 concept cars they leased to a couple thousand lucky individuals. Five years later, although they aren’t very common yet (and certainly aren’t cheap) electric cars are “cool.” In the TV sit-com, “2 and 1/2 Men,” the billionaire played by Ashton Kutcher drives an expensive Tesla Motors’ roadster, Toyota makes a plug-in Prius, and GM makes, and actually sells the Chevy Volt. So the disbelief and anger that fueled the first doc is missing. What audiences are left with now is a severe case of the “I want its.”
2 and 1/2 pieces of  electric company toast

Jack and Jill (PG)

Starring: Adam Sandler, casino online Al Pacino, Katie Holmes, David Spade
Written and Directed by: Dennis Dugan
The stars who have cameos in this so-called comedy have first names like Johnny, Drew, Shaquille, Regis, Dana, and that guy from the Subway commercials named Jared. This is important, because the brief bits of recognition of those people’s faces provides the only levity in this plodding, lead-weight of a film. Playing a twin brother and sister, both of whom rate right up there with fingernails on a blackboard on the Irritating Scale, what should have been edgy comedy, instead went for the PG crowd and relies on at least four fart jokes and, of course, the hilariously funny hit-in-the crotch sequences. Bottom line—skip it.
1 piece of skip it completely toast





Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (PG-13)
Starring: Daniel Radcliff, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon
Directed by: David Yates
The franchise that began a decade ago, ends with a satisfying emotional roller-coaster of a film which this generation will recall with delight a half century from now. And that is no small accomplishment.  The fifth graders who who began their training at Hogwarts are all grown up, and the story line is as mature, sure-footed,  and nuanced as the actors who have lived these roles for a decade. The final showdown is a man-to-man duel between Harry Potter and Lord Valdemort — a battle of good vs. evil for the future of Wizards and Muggles alike. This is a must-see film for all but the very young (it’s scary as Hell).
4 pieces of grand conclusion toast

The Change-up (R)
Starring: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Ollivia Wilde, Leslie Mann, Alan Arkin
Directed by: Davis Dobkin
You shouldn’t expect much from an R-rated sex comedy that has TV ads filled with bathroom noises (and, presumably, odors). The set up is that a sedate family man trades places with a swinger because of a wish granted when they urinated in the same fountain at the same time (I’m not making this up). The sudden shift results in lots of cringing moments for the audience as the guy inside the other guy’s body has to cope with the realities of parenthood, marriage and the singles dating scene.
1 and 1/2 pieces of Judd Apatow gone too far toast