Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases for 5/03/12
The Avengers (PG-13)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner
Directed by: Joss Wheden
We’ve already met Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America in other films, now the four superheroes unite as a team—albeit a team where multi-billionare Tony Stark (AKA Iron Man) wants to be in charge. The plot involves a Hitchcockian McGuffin called the Tesseract, which gives it’s owner unlimited power. The bad guys steal the sparkling blue cube, and the superheroes are assembled to retrieve it. The showdown occurs at Tony Stark’s mid-Manhattan high-rise where glittering gadgets abound. (I almost wrote “Final showdown” but quickly realized a sequel is sure to follow).
3 and 1/2 pieces of super, super-toast
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Vanessa Redgrave, Gerard Butler, Jessica Chastain, Brian Cox
Directed by: Ralph Fiennes
The bloodiest of Shakepeare’s plays is updated to a place called Rome that looks like a modern-day, Balkanized war-zone with the armies dressed in camo-uniforms, and the crowds in the street dressed like “Occupy Oakland” protesters. Ralph Fiennes and screen writer John Logan have kept most of the original lines and plot points, and the Bard’s mastery of archetypes and universalities has never been stronger. The entire cast is superb but Brian Cox steals the film as Menenius, the slick politician who wheedles his way into things by greasing the wheels with false praise.
3 and 1/2 pieces of best modern-day Shakespeare since Richard III toast
Starring: Bill Courtney, Chavis Daniels, O.C. Brown, Montrail Brown
Directed by: Dan Lindsay, T. J. Martin
This feel-good, Oscar-winning documentary focuses on volunteer coach Bill Courtney as he turns a team of troublemakers into winners. Set in and on the fields, changing rooms, and homes of the Manassas High School Tigers, it is a heart-felt story of individuals overcoming their inner demons to coalesce into a team with spirit, drive, and determination. Shooting real life, the documentary filmmakers have no idea how things will turn out, and the end results are stronger for it.
3 and 1/2 pieces football as Shakespeare toast
Starring: Audrey Tautou, Francois Damiens, Bruno Todeshini, Melanie Bernier
Directed by: David & Stephane Foenkinos
A tragic love-story is encapsulated i a few minutes as a young man and woman fall in love and marry only to have him die in a tragic accident. A few years later, the now older and somber girl peeks her head out for another shot at love, and unexpectedly catches the eye of an unkempt Swede at the office. The humor comes from the couple trying to hide the fact that they are courting from the other cubicle-dwellers. Although the movie is assembled with a “slightly unfinished” feel, Audrey Tautou’s pixie-face makes it work.
2 and 1/2 pieces poignant French toast
Damsels In Distress (PG-13)
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Analeigh Tipton, Adam Brody, Carrie MacLemore
Directed by: Whit Stillman
Set in the time-warp of a college town, three young women try to make the lives of everyone they meet be a little better. Like some modern-day musketeers, they bring a freshman girl into their “youth outreach” program where they hold parties to bring a little joy into the lives of the boys who attend. The result is as fizzy and light as a creme soda sweet, and decidedly vanilla.
3 pieces of well written humor toast
NEW ON DVD
New Year’s Eve (PG-13)
Starring: Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Robert De Niro, Ashton Kutcher, Hilary Swank, Abigail Breslin, Zac Efron, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sofia Veraga, etc. etc.
Directed by: Garry Marshall
Leave it to Gary Marshall to take the splendiferous talents of multiple Oscar winners and nominees and throw them into this movie in such a haphazard way, that the result is a puff pastry minus the puff—in short, soggy dough. New York’s Times Square takes center stage (the documentary footage shot by Charles Minsky on location last year, is the only standout part of this movie). You see, there’s this big celebration downtown where a rock star and rapper are going to sing and this teen age girl wants to go but her mother says “No,” while another woman goes into labor, a nurse tends to a dying veteran, a man plagued by priapism gets stuck in an elevator with a backup singer while an attractive but frazzled office assistant quits because her record label boss is boorish, but before she leaves, she hires a young courier to help her finish her list of last year’s resolutions. Got that? Do you care? You can catch the same kind of thing on the Hallmark Channel almost any night of the week, and pop your homemade gift cookies in and out of the oven during the commercials.
1 and 1/2 pieces of warmed-over shallowness toast
Starring: Gina Carano, Michael Douglas, Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
The fabled director of this film picked a real-life, female martial arts champion as his star because he wanted to shoot the fight sequences in”real time,” not the quick edits of “reel time.” On the technical level, this film works well, but characters in Soderbergh’s films always seem emotionally lacking, and this is doubly true here. As a result, the audience has difficulty connecting with the cardboard characters onscreen. Well, at least the fight scenes are good.
2 pieces of female Chuck Norris 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