Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 11/25/11

The Muppets delights, Michelle Williams is transcendent in My Week With Marilyn

 

The Muppets (PG) 

Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo

Directed by: James Bobin

The lights have been dark in the former Muppet theater for over a decade, and the furry, feathered and Velcroed stars have scattered to the four corners of the Earth. But when a Texas Billionaire threatens to tear the place down and drill for oil, Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, Miss Piggy and their fans gather together to stage the Greatest Muppet Telethon Ever! Written by Jim Henson, Jason Siegel, and Nicholas Stoller, this feature-length movie captures the humor, joy, laughter and love that propelled the TV-show and the first Muppet Movie to greatness.

4 pieces of it’s not easy being green toast 

 

Hugo (R) 

Starring: Ben Kingsley, Asa Butterfield, Ray Winstone, Sasha Baron Cohen, Chloe Moritz, Emily Mortimer

Directed by: Martin Scorcese

I recently had a chance to interview filmmaker/historian/critic, Richard Shickel about his book “Conversations With Scorcese,” and I wonder where he would rank this homage to film pioneer Georges Melies in Scorcese’s list of films. In interviews, the director gushes about the opportunity to shoot a film in 3-D, but for me, that optical gimmick doesn’t add enough of a “wow” to warrant paying extra for the clunky glasses and I suggest you search out a 2-D version instead. What you will find is a loving adaptation of Brian Selznick’s children’s book with scenes reminiscent of Harry Potter, The Polar Express, The Wizard of Oz, and some of Terry Gilliam’s absurdities. You see there is this orphaned boy who lives in the walls of a Parisian train station at the turn of the last century and…

3 and 1/2 pieces of more enjoyable in 2-D toast

 

Arthur Christmas (PG) 

Starring the voices of: James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent,Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton

Directed by: Sarah Smith, Barry Cook

Stop-motion masters Aardman create a 3-D Christmas tale that reveals some of Santa’s best kept secrets (which I won’t spoil for you here—but did you ever Wonder how that Jolly Old Elf managed to get to every child’s house in one night?). Clever bits of frantic, wry humor may pass over the heads of the younger set, but the adults in the seats next to them will chuckle. I suggest you plan to leave before Justin Bieber’s inane song starts playing over the end credits.

3 and 1/2 pieces of claymation Christmas toast

 

The Descendents (R)  

Starring: George Clooney, Judy Greer, Beau Bridges, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller

Directed by: Alexander Payne

It’s nice to have a comedy for grown ups (and I mean real grown ups, not college sophomores), that has a melancholic George Clooney grappling with grief and anger and love and duty as the patriarch of an Hawaiian family whose ancestors were whalers and plantation owners but whose children use their I-pads wearing flip-flops, and who just lost their mother in a senseless boating accident.

3 and 1/2 pieces of Oscar-bound toast

 

My Week With Marilyn (R)
Starring: Michelle Williams, Eddie Remayne, Kenneth Branagh, Dougray Scott
Directed by: Simon Curtis
In the summer of 1956, an Oxford grad’s first job is as a gopher on the set of “The Prince and the Showgirl” starring the unlikely paring of Sir Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe. The fellow kept a diary, and, 40 years later, he offers it as proof that Marilyn not only kissed him but said she loved him as well. Michelle Williams is Marilyn Monroe personified, and that is worth the price of a ticket all by itself.
3 and 1/2 pieces of an Oscar nod to Michelle Williams toast

 

 

NEW ON DVD

Super 8 (PG-13)
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Amanda Michalka
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Stephen Spielberg is the star of this Speilbergian homage. His name is listed as Producer, but director J.J. Abrams recreates camera angles, lighting effects, and fresh-faced performances that harken back to a time when special effects weren’t as important as a strong screenplay. The film is set in a small Ohio town in 1979 where local teens shooting a super-8 movie become involved in something much, much bigger than they ever imagined.  It recaptures the less cynical and jaded age of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and “E.T.” by being fun, intelligent and entertaining.
3 and 1/2  pieces of Spielbergian toast

The Devil’s Double  (R)  

Starring: Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier, Raad Rawi, Philip Quast

Directed by: Lee Tamahori

Employing a time-tested means of protection, Sadam Hussein used “fidays,” (body doubles) to confuse would-be assassins. His sociopathic son, Uday did as well, and this film recounts the true life story of one look-alike recruited to play the heir apparent in public. Corrupted by wealth and absolute power, Uday tortured and slaughtered his enemies without qualms. He also liked to sexually conquer and eventually kill any beautiful woman who caught his eye. Upsettingly, much of this is portrayed onscreen, almost overshadowing the amazing dual performance by Dominic Cooper as both an ordinary man and the Devil incarnate.

3 pieces of stomach-turning history toast
Sarah’s Key (PG-13)
Starring: Kristen Scott Thomas, Neils Arestrup, Frederic Pierrot
Directed by: Gilles Pacquet-Brenner
In 1942, while French collaborators rounded up her family, a young Jewish girl locks her younger brother in a closet and hides the key in her pocket. Whisked away to a concentration camp, she never unlocks the door, and that nightmare (and many others) haunt her dreams. A modern-day journalist begins searching for the stories long hidden behind the bright Parisian facades.
3 pieces of the past shall not be forgotten toast