Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases for 1/27/12
Albert Nobbs (R)
Starring: Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Terrence Howard, Bryan Cranston
Directed by: Anthony Hemingway
Because it has worked so well in the past, every Oscar season seems to have a film starring a woman playing a man—(Hilary Swank “Boys Don’t Cry,” Felicity Huffman “Transamerica,” Tilda Swinton “Orlando,” Linda Hunt “The Year of Living Dangerously,”and even Julie Andrews in the gender-bending “Victor/Victoria”). This time, it’s two actresses donning men’s attire. Glenn Close dresses in a derby, starched collar and tie, as she tackles the title role of a nineteenth century woman who dressed as a man to secure a waiter/butler job at an aristocratic Dublin hotel. When she is forced to share a room with a man named Hubert, we find that this other man (played by Janet McTeer) is hiding her inner identity as well. It works. Both women have earned Oscar nominations.
3 pieces of things aren’t always what you think they are toast
Man on a Ledge (PG-13)
Starring: Sam Worthington, Kyra Sedgewick, Ed Harris, Elizabeth Banks
Directed by: Asger Leth
I don’t believe I reveal too much when I tell you the man in the title is in that precarious location as a distraction for a complicated robbery “worth millions” (as they always are). With its outlandish set ups, feminist cringing stereotypes, and scenery chewing overacting, this could almost be one of those “Airplane,” and “Hot Shots Part Deux” spoofs, but it doesn’t quite go that far. There are lots of big-name actors on the screen but apparently not enough money left for a “script girl.” We watch the main character check into a room on the 25th floor, and later hear that there’s “a jumper on the 21st floor. Even without floor number 13 (that’s another movie entirely) some body can’t add.
2 pieces of rent it, invite a group of friends, and start a “drinking game toast Note: This critic reminds you to drink responsibly and have a designated driver.
The Grey (R)
Starring: Liam Neeson, Dallas Roberts, Dermot Mulroney
Directed by: Joe Carnahan
Plane crashes loaded with contrasting “types” of survivors (aristocratic/working class, outdoorsman/intellectual, etc. etc.), is a movie staple. This new film just adds a ravenous pack of wolves and an Arctic wilderness to spice things up a bit. Neeson rechannels Schindler, Jean Valjean and Star Wars’ Qui-Gon Jinn as he battles beasts both human and canine, and eases people’s passing from this world to the next. The fake snow looks great, but the wolves—the filmmakers should have gone back to huskies with rubber bands around their snouts to show off their fangs.
2 and 1/2 pieces of bad CG wolves toast
A Dangerous Method (R)
Starring: Keira Knightly, Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender
Director: David Cronenberg
Freud and Jung’s most celebrated patient is the centerpiece of a story of sexual repression, masochism, Jewish symbolism, Protestant archetypes, dreams, and tattered boundaries between therapist and client. Stymied in his attempts to “reach” his patient, Jung seeks guidance from Freud, the “father of psychotherapy.” The two men’s different backgrounds, belief systems, life experiences and personal obsessions, grow before our eyes into the great divide that splits psychoanalytical theory to this very day.
3 pieces of Jung Freudian toast
One For the Money (PG-13)
Starring: Katherine Heigl, Danie Sunjata, John Legizamo
Director: Julie Anne Robinson
Janet Evanovich’s eighteen mystery novels feature a plucky Jersey Girl named Stephanie Plum. The author describes her main character as an “accidental bounty-hunter” who is “incredibly average and yet heroic if necessary.” The film version manages to be incredibly less than average. Checking to see if other critics thought this was as much of a sexist, tasteless, wise-cracking about gruesome murders, waste of time as I do, I discovered that it earned a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes—which, I believe, may be a first. Unfortunately the 1/2 rating I give, is as low as I go.
1/2 pieces of read the books instead toast
NEW ON DVD
Paranormal Activity 3 (R)
Starring: Katie Featherston, Chloe Cserngey, Spague Grayden
Directed by: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
The low-budget Paranomal Activity franchise proves once again that the audience is as important in creating suspense as anything shown on the screen. Ostensibly, this film is a prequel to the first one—”recently uncovered” footage shot years ago. The opening encapsulates the premise—a VHS camera mounted on a household fan focuses on a suburban kitchen where a mother and two daughters leave the room. A few seconds later, the mother returns and the camera pivots to reveal everything in the kitchen has mysteriously disappeared. Since these film’s power is in their one-time-only shock value, I can’t reveal much more than to say this may be this year’s spookiest film for Halloween.
3 pieces of less-is-still-more toast
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogan, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
A reporter for a Seattle radio station goes to the doctor for back pain and learns he has a rare cancer of the spine with only a 50/50 chance for survival. Unlikely as it sounds, writer Will Reiser has turned his own bout with the Big C into a comedic gem. The victim’s classic stages of denial, anger, fear and eventual acceptance fuel a series of reactions from friends and family which resonate with realism made palatable by exceptionally well done comedy.
3 and 1/2 pieces of who would have thought? toast
Real Steel (PG-13)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Anthony Mackie, Evangeline Lily
Directed by: Shawn Levy
In the not to distant future, robots populate professional boxing and wrestling rings, and an ex-boxer cobbles together an existence by rebuilding junked machines to fight again. Suddenly saddled with his biological son, the fighter must win the boy’s heart the only way he knows how—by building the biggest, baddest fighting robot ever seen. Although the writer/director of this film appears human in photos, the screenplay unfolds like it was constructed Lego-style by a computer, using scenes from previous fight movies.
2 pieces of rock-em, sock-em robots toast