Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 4/20/12

 

Chimpanzee (G)
Narrated by: Tim Allen

Directed by: Alastair Fothergill, Mark Linfield

The power of Bambi is obviously still felt in the halls of the Disney studios. Veering away from the fascinating, but overly familiar “Nature Films” that now run 24-hours-a-day on TV, the canny Disney folks have taken amazing footage showing the endearing, human-like actions of chimpanzees in the wild and edited it into a drama. The story comes complete with one cute little guy, named Oscar (hint, hint), becoming an orphan. Aimed at the under-10 crowd, parents can delight in nature’s wonders (the real-life, phosphorescent plants are like something from Avatar) while chuckling every time Tim Allen points out the obvious.

3 pieces of chimps are cute toast

 

Marley (PG-13)
Starring: Bob Marley, Rita Marley, Ziggy Marley, Cedella Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Bunny Livingston,
Directed by: Kevin Macdonald
Dead for almost as long as he lived, Rastafarian-Reggae-Superstar Bob Marley has left an enormous legacy—with 11 kids from 7 different mothers as one of his stats. The director, known for his award-winning dramas, presents Bob Marley’s story almost as if the musician’s life was shaped by prophecies—a series of disconnected, almost unbelievable events, all encapsulated into one man’s brief life. We learn about the dreadlocks-wearing, charismatic man, the loving but often absent father, and the mystical dancing poet from his family and his fellow musicians and we love it. After all, even white guys think they can dance when they hear Marley’s music.

3 and 1/2  master musicality toast

 

Think Like a Man (PG-13)
Starring: Jerry Ferrara, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, Teraji P. Henson, Kevin Hart

Directed by: Tim Story

The director who brought us the ensemble comedy Barbershop, works his magic once more. The catalyst is a self-help book passed around by a group of female friends. The book (a bestseller written by comedian Steve Harvey) posits that women need to understand how men think—so they can outsmart them. The book also suggests that women should impose a “90-days without sex” rule to assess a guy’s true staying power. Since everyone in this comedy is an identifiable “type,” we all know how the “player” and the “good-time-girl”  will react to this piece of advice. And that is what makes the film work so well and be so funny. No surprises. Just a very well done and enjoyable film.

3 and 1/2 pieces of lets us feel happy toast

 

Kid With Bike (PG-13)
Starring: Thomas Doret, Cecile de France, Jeremie Renier, Fabrizo Rongione

Directed by: Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne

An abandoned youngster named Cyril breaks out of the orphanage and sneaks back to his father’s apartment house to retrieve his bicycle. When the authorities arrive, he clings to a woman neighbor named Samantha, and refuses to leave until he can see his old (and now empty) apartment. Samantha finds the bike and returns it to the boy, and Cyril asks to visit her on the weekend. The mercurial Cyril is a handful—running, jumping, racing, fighting, yelling, and constantly demanding attention. In contrast. Samantha is a free-spirited individualist who sees life as a glass half-full. The two work well together, especially when confronted with the stark reality of Cyril’s unloving and unrepentant father

3 and 1/2 pieces of beautifully identifiable French toast

 

Lucky One (PG-13)
Starring: Zac Ephron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner
Directed by: Scott Hicks

Despite it’s PG-13 designation, this is the first of the films made-from-Nicholas Sparks-cookie-cutter-books, to include profanity, almost-sex, and battlefields in wartime. But it also includes the reguired beautiful beachside romance between two emotional cripples whose paths are destined to become entwined because of an obvious plot device. This time, the connection is photo instead of a mis-directed letter, but it works just as well. This film lets the audience know what to expect before we need to, and the whole thing comes of as a less-than-stellar Hallmark Hall of Fame. It’s terribly, terribly, redundant and insipid.
1 and 1/2  pieces of another Nicholas Sparks without any fire toast

 

Bully (PG-13)
Starring: Ja’Meya Jackson, Londa Johnson, Kelby Johnson, Bob Johnson, Alex Libby, Jackie Libby
Directed by: Lee Hirsch
Originally labelled “R” when it first appeared in theaters,  the MPAA reacted to media pressure and a petition circulated by Hollywood stars and changed the rating to “PG-13.” This change came after the film’s producers removed three “F-word utterances” from a crucial scene of a teen being bullied on a school bus. Showing the horrific results of bullying upon several teens and their families, the film is praised by many social advocates who call it “a film every parent and child in America must see.” I would add: “If they can talk about it afterwords with school administrators, teachers, parents, legislators, and mental health professionals.” For just watching it in a vacuum, won’t do much. Part of this is the one-sided perspective of the movie itself. We don’t get to know the bullies who are involved or ask why they act this way. We don’t investigate how and why people who are supposedly put in place to protect our children don’t see this as a priority. And most of all, we don’t meet the parents and families of the bullies, and their faces are blurred out in the film footage. The idea is to “break the silence,” but the bullies onscreen are protected. Why?

3 and 1/2 pieces of social advocacy toast

 

 

NEW ON DVD

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (PG-13)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nyquist

Directed by: Brad Bird

Brad Bird has managed to bring his Pixar perfectionism with him, and direct his mega-star to turn off the “cruise-control” and actually do something more than flashing his dimples. The result is an extraordinarily enthralling action movie—the best since “The Bourne Ultimatum.” As almost everyone knows, “the Secretary will disavow “ the IMF team if they go public, and after the Kremlin explodes, that is exactly what happens. Now the team must confront a Swedish megalomaniac as “rogue terrorists,” which puts an interesting spin on operating impossibly in this post 9/11 age of paranoia. Bird filmed many scenes with an IMAX camera, bringing incredible live-action feats up close and personal—a true Mission Impossible.

4 pieces of action movie toast

 

Shame (NC-17)

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale, Lucy Walters

Directed by: Steve McQueen

The Michael Fassbender character is all about sex as power, sex as a commodity, sex without love, sex male or female, sex bought and paid for—and the childhood experiences with his promiscuous, exhibitionist sister that established the parameters of this addiction.

3 and 1/2 pieces of not for most movie-goers toast