Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 3/30/12


Mirror, Mirror (PG-13)
Starring: Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Arnie Hammer, Nathan Lane

Directed by: Tarsem Singh

In 2006, Tarsem Singh wrote and directed “The Fall” an ambitious film shot on five continents which celebrated movie making, story telling, exotic locals and fairy-tales. Despite some truly brilliant sequences, the film didn’t work as a whole. This time, Singh has created a movie lacking any brilliance at all. It’s as if the suits decided that they should do a clever retelling of Snow White from the Queen’s point of  view, primarily to cast Julia Roberts in her first role as a villain. Problem is, Lana Parilla plays the Queen to perfection every Sunday night on TV’s “Once Upon a Time,” with Ginnifer Goodwin playing Snow White in both the Olde Fairie Tale and the present-day. I blame  the Mirror, Mirror script, the concept, the suits…in fact, I blame everyone involved for this mess.

1 piece of what a darn shame toast


Bullhead (R)
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Amr Waked, Emily Blunt
Directed by: Lasse Halstrom
With cattle barons, drug smugglers, and cross-border rivalries, this noirish “western” is surprisingly set in Belgium. Starting out like a documentary about using steroids to fatten cattle for market, a flashback to a cowboy’s childhood reveals traumatic insecurities which doom his attempts to woo the pretty perfume salesgirl. But at it’s core, it is a tale of Waloons vs Flemish (ie. French speakers vs Dutch speakers) inexorably headed to a stand off where the “winner” is unclear at best.

3  pieces of this was nominated for an Oscar toast


Wrath of the Titans (PG-13)
Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Nighy

Directed by: Jonathan Liebsman
Remade primarily to gather the extra shekels from “renting” you those 3-D glasses, this film made me wonder if the stars who dot the boulder and volcano-strew landscape made this movie because they like to play poker together off camera. Or maybe it was the big paychecks? There’s way more acting talent than necessary for this pseudo Greek mythology involving an angry Zeus, some angrier sons, and a muscular, but clueless grandson. It all goes in an obvious direction towards an obvious final battle of the gods. (By the way, the gods in this film are technically the Olympians, who overthrew the older generation of Titans in an historic Greek paradigm shift called the Titanomachy).

2 pieces of seen it all before 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

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (PG-13)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Horn, MAx Von Sydow, Viola Davis, John Goodman, Zoe Caldwell
Directed by: Stephen Daldry
Before that deadly day in September, 2001, Oskar had a loving father and mother who grappled with his Aspergers-like symptoms by creating a fantasy life of “reconnaissance expeditions” in New York’s Central Park. This film is designed to tug at your heartstrings and make you fumble with your pack of Kleenex in the theater darkness. You have a choice— embrace the blatant manipulation, or, like me, criticize it. This is a time-capsule film. And although I lived these terrifying days on the West coast, I find it unlikely that a grieving widow would blithely let her only son explore the dangerous alley ways and hidden dells of a city in shock all by himself. But she does, by letting her child search for the lock that fits a recently discovered key.  This “lone boy on a quest” is a Joseph Campbell archetype, and all mythic heroes have to trek through dangerous places to retrieve their talismans—but to me, when this quest is in post 9/11 New York City, and the hero is a frail, young boy, it seems much too dangerous a time and place.

2 and 1/2 pieces of audience manipulation toast

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (G)
Starring: Jason Lee, David Cross, and the 78-RPM voices of: Justin Long, Gray Gubler, Alan Tudyk, Jesse McCartney
Directed by: Mike Mitchell
Carnival Cruise Lines is trying for a new demographic with this 87 minute commercial featuring the squeaky-voiced, rock star rodents collectively known as The Chipmunks. The squeaky-clean ship almost sinks beneath the groan-inducing puns and pop culture references obviously written by septuagenarians who still think “shaken, not stirred” is a funny line.

1 and 1/2 pieces of this ain’t no Love Boat toast