Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases for 6/01/12
Snow White and the Huntsman (PG-13)
Starring: Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Ian McShane, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Nick Frost
Directed by: Rupert Sanders
This is the second big-budget movie to retell the story of Snow White so far this year (but wait, there’s still six months left of 2012). Focusing on the grim aspects of the Grimm brothers’ tale, a wicked stepmother kills the king to gain the throne and then sends her huntsman to bring back the heart of her stepdaughter. In this version, the huntsman doesn’t just bring an animal heart to the evil queen, he actively helps Snow White escape to the house inhabited by a specific number of dwarves. I’ll let you decide for yourselves if the whole thing works, but the dwarves, played broadly by Ian McShane, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Nick frost et al, are worth the price of admission.
3 pieces of a bit too long toast
Starring: Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey
Directed by: Richard Linklater
The premise is that a well-liked Texas funeral director hooks up with an aging, wealthy, and strident widow. They travel the world and burn through money while she yells at him. One day, the guy has heard enough, so he shoots her in the back and deposits the body in a freezer. Repenting for his rash actions, he gives the money away to needy people and leaves none for himself. When the truth comes out, the locals think Bernie should go free. I expected this “based on a true story” black comedy would have a Hitchcockian twist to make it really work, and with Jack Black as the star, I kept waiting for the punch line.
3 pieces of a nice-guy murderer toast
Starring: Karin Viard, Joey Starr,
Directed by: Maiwenn Le Besco
This film focuses on the policemen who make up the elite (but still subject to budget cuts) Parisian child-protection squad. They are all blunt, jaded, world-weary, and cynical individuals who use words as brutal tools, and rage internally and externally against a system and process that re-victimizes children who have already suffered enough. Winner of the Palme de Orre in Cannes, this movie is a visceral tour-de-force that pulls no punches, and will stick with you for a long time. CAUTION: Polisse is almost guaranteed to trigger intense emotional reactions from audience members, and may be psychologically threatening to victims of child abuse.
4 pieces of Gallic bluntness toast
The Lady (R)
Starring: Michelle Yeoh, David Thewlis, Jonathan Woodhouse
Directed by: Luc Besson
At the pitch session, a dramatized version of Burmese activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi directed by La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element master Luc Besson would obviously get the “green light,” but the screenplay sabotages what should have been a good film. We start when Aung’s father was fighting for independence from British colonialism, jump to her being being a faculty wife at Oxford, and follow her home to her native land to be with her dying mother just as the democracy movement takes hold. Lushly filmed by Besson, the dialogue reads like captions on propaganda posters, and the unemotional actors just compound the problem. Too bad. There really is a good film to be made about this courageous woman who was placed under house arrest for over fifteen years.
1 and 1/2 pieces of passionless toast
Crooked Arrows (PG-13)
Starring: Brendon Routh, Crystal Allen, Chelsea Ricketts
Directed by: Steve Rash
Lacrosse, the sport invented by Native Americans, is given a “Bad News Bears” style storyline in this cliched and not very well acted movie. We have the failed coach trying for a comeback, the roster of players with troubled pasts and family secrets, snobbish, prep-school rivals, and a climactic final game. We’ve seen it all before, just with different kinds of balls, sticks and ethnicities.
Piranha 3DD (NR)
Starring: Clu Gullagher, David Hasselhoff, Christopher Lloyd, Gary Bussey
This is a follow up to the profitable Piranha 3D film and is populated with “whatever happened to” TV stars. As far as I know, the DD in the title does not refer to anybody’s bust size.
Unavailable for preview
For Greater Glory (R)
Starring: Andy Garcia, Oscar Isaac, Catalina Sandino Moreno
Directed by: Dean Wright
The opportunity to make a good film about a 192 Mexican revolutionary fighting against religious persecution is squandered in this flop. For some reason, the filmmakers decided to have everyone speak English, use music that announces every scene change with symphonic lushness and linger on scenes of child torture and burning crosses. Funded in part by the Knights of Columbus, press materials tout this as a “church vs. state” morality tale, while Andy Garcia and the other actors insist it’s not.
1 piece of heavy-handed propaganda toast
Otter 501 (G)
Directed by: Bob Talbot
This documentary stars the Monterey Bay Aquarium and a cute little orphaned otter raised by the facility and trained to survive when it is set free. It is presented as a series of Facebook videos ostensibly created by a volunteer biologist. In reality, the volunteer is fictional as anyone who has every shot a Facebook video will easily detect because of the professionalism of the astounding visuals.
3 pieces of well-made film you’d watch while visiting the aquarium toast
NEW ON DVD
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Vanessa Redgrave, Gerard Butler, Jessica Chastain, Brian Cox
Directed by: Ralph Fiennes
The bloodiest of Shakespeare’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
We Need to Talk About Kevin (NR)
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, John C. Riley
Directed by: Lynne Ramsay
This film is about guilt. It focuses on a suburban housewife who gave birth to a boy who massacres his high school classmates. Told in flashbacks, we learn the grim facts of biology, religious intolerance, neighborly ostracism, and Freudian-style psychoses and neurosis. The result is a well-acted but emotionally draining film without any answers. Not the sort of movie you should pick to see on a first date.
2 pieces of it never answers “why” toast