Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 2/03/12


Big Miracle (PG)
Starring: Drew Barrymore, John Krasinsky, Ted Danson, Kristen Bell
Directed by: Ken Kwapis
This is a bit like the old Northern Exposure TV show with a big, big budget and different stars, and the result is quirky and predictable. It’s based on a true incident from 1988 when three grey whales got trapped in a rapidly shrinking ice lake near Barrow, Alaska. The local TV reporter breaks the story, it’s a slow news day, and the rest—including the international rescue mission, the Greenpeace vs. politicians grandstanding, and and the yokels vs city folk jokes—is history.
3  pieces of shmaltzy toast


The Woman In Black (R)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer, Shaun Dooley
Directed by: James Watkins
We’re in Britain in the early 20’s where a widowed barrister has difficulty making enough to care for his young son, so he takes a job settling an estate at a haunted mansion. Since the movie opened with three village girls hurling themselves out of a window. we know that evil consumes the fog-shrouded environs, and we embrace the old-fashioned, jump-out-of-your-seat frightenings. Oh, did you notice I refrained from a single mention of Harry Potter?

3 pieces of ghostly going-on toast


Chronicle (PG-13)
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russel, Michael B. Jordan, Ashley Hinshaw
Directed by: Josh Trank
In addition to dreams about flying, I assume everyone has what-ifs about having superpowers. The representative youngsters in this film have typical teen problems, so when they magically acquire extraordinary skills, they establish rules of behavioral secrecy which are soon abandoned. Each teen experiments with ways to make things “better” (or at least extract revenge), and the clever set ups surprise us with what finally transpires. And who said every superhero needs a cape and costume?

3 pieces of ordinary guys with super powers 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 existences—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

Big Year (PG-13)  

Starring: Steve Martin, Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston

Directed by: David Frankel

When I interviewed Jeffrey Meyers about his new book “John Huston: Courage and Art” (listen at he admitted that John’s daughter Anjelica Huston was the “elusive one who got away. The strikingly beautiful actress makes a brief ( and under utilized) appearance as the driver of a birding boat in “Big Year,” the low-key comedy about birdwatching. The concept is that a birder take a whole year to chronicle as many sightings of rare and common avian species as possible. It involves a lot of time travel and money, and shows what some of the fabled 1% do with their extra cash—they search for birds. Three well loved comedic actors play the lead roles—the current record holder who defends his title against a recently retired executive and a computer geek at a nuclear power plant. The total result is surprisingly underwhelming, sort of like the quest itself—there’s the bird, write it down, pack up your gear and move on.

2 pieces of watching birdwatchers watching birds toast


The Thing (R) 

Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ulrich Thomsen, Joel Edgerton, Eric Christian Olsen

Directed by: Matthijs van Hejiningen

A certain Analy High School science teacher liked to assign the original Cold-War version (starring James Arness as the vegetable creature from outer space) as extra credit homework. There’s little doubt he won’t be offering the same deal on this shoddy update filled with cinematic cliches and way too much fake blood. This film offers the back story to why the helicopter chases the sled dog in the opening scenes of John Carpenter’s 1982  version. Shades of “Alien,” it’s a female who joins the Norwegian polar expedition that discovers a space ship, thaws out the creature inside, and ends up playing Ten Little Indians as the creature proves to be a deadly and quite noisy foe.

1 and 1/2 pieces of useless remake toast