Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 5/10/12


Dark Shadows (PG-13)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jackie Earl Haley

Directed by: Tim Burton

Using little from the cult-TV sop opera but the name and characters, this film plays more like “That 70’s Show” as the outdated hairdos, wardrobes and sound track take center stage. Director Tim Burton plays “Nights In White Satin” for the opening theme, uses Barry White in the seduction scenes, and even has Alice Cooper in concert. In summary, Barnabus was cursed by his former girlfriend/witch to live forever as a vampire and then has him entombed. Unearthed after 200 years, the pasty-faced but forever-youngish fellow meets his descendants who still live in the ruins of the familial mansion. The jokes wear thin but the movie inexorably moves on for 114 minutes.

2 and 1/2 pieces of not Burton’s best work toast


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (PG-13)
Starring: Judy Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wikinson, Penelope Wilton, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie
Directed by: John Madden
A gaggle of familiar faces and voices decides to save money on their retirement accomodations by booking into an Indian hotel that looks beautiful on the website, because the photos were taken when India was a British colony. Deciding to make the best of a ramshackle reality, the wrinkled, and rumpled retirees handle leaking faucets, burned-out lights and holes in the walls with British aplomb, while the young hotel manager slaps a smile on his face and whitewash on the walls to keep his guests satisfied. It’s unpretentious and predictable, but everyone is top-notch and the delight is the ensemble itself.

3 pieces of aging Britishers in India toast


Footnote (PG)
Starring: Shlomo Bar Aba, Lior Ashkenazi, Alisa Rosen, Alma Zak

Directed by: Joseph Ceder

You probably never thought about it, but Talmudic scholars who study the historic Jewish texts, have rivalries as powerful as sports teams. This is doubly so, when the professors are father and son. To keeps things simple, the father is the traditionalist who argues that the text must be zealously defended, while the son is a rising star who sees nuances in every word phrase and punctuation mark. To the father’s dismay (and pride) the son is getting all the attention, while dad must be content with commentaries from the sidelines.

3 pieces nominated for an Oscar Israeli toast


We Have a Pope (PG-13)
Starring: Michel Piccoli, Jerzy Stuhr, Nanni Moretti

Directed by: Nanni Moretti

This Italian farce takes a simple concept—no one really wants to be the Pope—and runs with it…literally runs with it. Soon after the white smoke rises above the Vatican, the elderly, mild-mannered Frenchman who was just elected Pope, runs away. The film is divided into to distinct halves. The first, shows the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of the conclave of Cardinals as each red-cassocked candidate prays he won’t win. Outside the gates, tens of thousands of faithful Catholics (and millions more via TV and the internet), jostle  and harangue each other with personal testimonials, and distress about waiting so long. The second half follows the newly-elected Pope as he first boards a bus and then stops for a drink at a bar. He’s just an ordinary man here—fragile, friendly, and filled with humility, but as soon as the audience begins to wonder if God has made the right choice, the director veers off into slapstick involving a Swiss guard, or the cardinals’ volleyball tournament.

2 and 1/2 pieces of farcical toast



Underworld Awakening (R)
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rae, Michael Ely. India Eisley
Directed by: Mans Marlind, Bjorn Stein
All I can tell you for sure is that you will ponder how Kate Beckinsale manages to put on her tight, tighter, tightest, black leather catsuit in this fourth movie in her vampires vs. werewolves franchise. My guess is a spray gun.

Not available to critics and Gil still hasn’t seen it


The Vow (PG-13)
Starring: Channing Tatum, Rachel McAdams, Sam Neill, Jessica Lange
Directed by: Michael Sucsy
When a car-crash victim emerges from a coma, a man tells her he is her husband and they should begin doing all the things they used to do together (including (gasp) having “marital relations.” Based on a true story where the couple’s religious faith provided the support to make this work, the filmmakers had several choices  of how to proceed—such as a Judd Apatow-style raunchy comedy, a “Total Recall,” style quest for a lost love, a “meet cute” style rom-com where the couple pretend they never met, or, the awkward amalgamation of all the above with dialogue stolen from Hallmark cards. In the end, it’s an OK movie to to see with your date on Valentine’s Day.

2 pieces of wake from a coma in time for Valentine’s Day toast