Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 1/13/12

Beauty and the Beast 3-D (G)
Starring the voices of: Angela Lansbury, Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Jerry Orbach. David Ogden Stiers
Directed by: Kirk Wise, Gary Trousdale
The seamless depiction of the tessellated floor in the original version was an astounding piece of animation as the camera angles constantly shifted while Belle and the the Beast waltzed around the ballroom. This digitalized, 3-D works beautifully in some scenes (like the riotous Gaston singing Menken and Ashman’s  line, “I use antlers in all of my decorating”), and the multi-plane photography used the first time, allows flowers, bunnies, or falling snow in the foreground to be almost touchable. But, and this is a big but, is it worth shelling out over fifty bucks for a family of four to go to a theater and watch the Disney classic they already have on their shelf at home? I for one, am suspicious that this is part of a corporate ploy to have us buy 3-D TVs when the 3-D home version comes out.
4 pieces of toast for the original, but with reservations about this 3-D version.

Contraband (R)
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Kate Beckinsale, Giovanni Ribisi
Directed by: Balthasar Komakur
Based on an Icelandic thriller, this is a formulaic B-movie, but it’s a well done formulaic B-movie. It involves a former New Orleans smuggler who has gone legit and now has a beautician wife and two cute kids. If you think the guy will get sucked back into the action, and his wife and kids will be kidnapped and put in harm’s way, raise your hand. Raise the other one if you think there will be lots of explosions, fighting, threats like “don’t you even mention my wife and kids,” and, just for a surprise, some nifty, shipboard heist sequences.

3 pieces of defrosted from the Icelandic film toast


Iron Lady (R)

Starring: Meryl Steep, Jim Braodbent, Olivia Coleman
Directed by: Phyllida Lloyd
Meryl Steep has once again absorbed the persona of someone and brought it to the screen. This time around, it’s the charismatic British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. This conservative whirlwind never let distractions (including family and friends) get in her way. Unfortunately, the filmmakers decided to have Thatcher be shown dictating her memoirs, and the story is told in flashback. So we see a tired, worn-out and throughly aged dowager at the beginning instead of the super-woman who went to Parliament and rose to become the “Iron Lady” personified.

2 and 1/2 pieces of Streep could have almost done this solo toast


Carnage (R)
Starring: Jodi Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly
Directed by: Roman Polanski
Two sets of parents get together to stop their 11-year-old sons from fighting. What starts as a modern, adult discussion, disintegrates as the levels in the liquor bottles descends, and the chic New York apartment becomes an emotionally-charged battlefield. In other words, it’s a comedy. The acting is brilliant, the words (half-scripted by Polanski from a Parisian stage play), are bitingly brittle. The result is like one of those so-called screwball comedies from the 40’s where fighting with your mate was just a way of showing how much you love them. Well, that was the formula.

3 and 1/2 pieces of tour-de-force acting toast


Joyful Noise (PG-13)
Starring: Queen LAtifah, Dolly PArtn, Keke Palmer, Kris Kristofferson
Directed by: Todd Graff
This feel-good movie about a church choir is filled with music and performers who are larger-than-life. The setting is a small Georgia gospel church, where the choir is good—but not quite good enough to win the national competition. The current soloist is the choir leader’s daughter, and when her nip-and-tuck rival’s grandson arrives from New York, sparks fly between the old folks, and love blossoms with the youngsters. That’s it, in a nutshell. Oh yes. there’s some great singing along the way.

3 pieces of what’s happin’ now-style toast




Moneyball (PG-13)

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


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


What’s Your Number? (R)

Starring: Anna Faris, Chris Evans, Ari Graynor

Directed by: Mark Mylod

This film proves that you should never read the statistics about relationships printed in women’s magazines. The premise here, is that 20 partners is the magic number when a sexually active female changes from being marriageable to being pathetic and doomed for spinsterhood. In response, the heroine vows to reconnect with past lovers to find the one that shouldn’t have gotten away. Lame, overdone, uninteresting and way too tacky.

1  and 1/2 pieces of gross comedy toast