Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases for 6/15/12
Rock of Ages (PG-13)
Starring: Julian Hough, Diego Boneta, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Mary J. Blige
Directed by: Adam Shankman
My suspicion is that the filmmakers who made “Rock of Ages” really don’t love Rock and Roll. It’s 1987, the day that rock music began its pot bellied and wrinkled death. The premature wake is held in the infamous Bourbon Room on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip where an Axl Rose-type rocker named Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise wearing bottomless chaps) is giving his farewell performance. Based on a hit Broadway musical, the movie inexplicably drops lots of the storyline to focus instead on a semi-talented groupie from Oklahoma who repeatedly demeans herself in her quest for “stardom.” She certainly won’t become famous for her voice, which is thin and reedy. In fact, despite all the pyrotechnics and the amps turned up to 11, the whole thing is thin and reedy. Wait for the video.
2 pieces of a Tom Cruise seems to be having a good time toast
Starring: Maggie Gylenhaal, Hugh Dancy, Rupert Everett, Jonathan Pryce
Directed by: Bobby Birleffi, Beverly Kopf
Several years ago, I introduced Emiko Omori and Wendy Slick’s film “The Passion and the Power” at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival. The film provided a history of one of the first electrical appliances sold for home use—the vibrator. “Hysteria” is a fictionalized account of some British doctors who are treating an epidemic of hysteria among Victorian women by manually bring them to orgasm in their examining rooms. Unfortunately, the doctors develop carpal-tunnel-syndrome and other stresses to their hands and arms, so the learned duo and a wealthy inventor team up to create a “vibrating electrical device” that brings about the same results but with less wear-and-tear on the physicians. The actors do their best, and some scenes work very well, but… Sadly, the director seems unsure what tone to maintain, and the result is mildly amusing film that lacks (pardon me for saying this) a satisfying climax.
2 and 1/2 pieces of needs to be more like the Tom Jones movie toast
Wish Me Away (NR)
Starring: Chely Wright
Directed by: Bobby Birleffi, Beverly Kopf
Filmed over three years, this film documents the agonizing decision and wounding aftermath of the Top-New-Female-Vocalist-wining county-western singer Chely Wright’s public announcement that she is a lesbian. The underlying issue is that the vast majority of her fans were religious conservatives, who actively attack the “gay lifestyle” as “sinful and unnatural.” This warts and all doc uncovers the personal challenges and overly-hyped build up (by both sides of this contentious issue) precipitated by the announcement.
3 pieces of things are not as simple as you imagine toast
Peace Love and Misunderstanding (R)
Starring: Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, Elizabeth Olsen, Kyle MaLachlan
Directed by: Bruce Beresford
This is one of those overly-hyphenated movies. Multiple-Oscar-winner Jane Fonda plays a cartoonish amalgamation of a still-stuck-in-the-60‘s-hippie-goddess-grandmother named Grace in this complete-waste-of-time-and-money-film. Grace welcomes her just-abandoned-by-her New York-lawyer-husband, and her college-student-granddaughter, and hide-behind-his-video-camera-grandson to her free-range-chicken-house-in-upstate-New York. The whole thing becomes clouded-with-organically-grown-pot-smoke, and hippie-grandma-pseudo-wisdom. Skip-it.
1 piece of skip-it toast
That’s My Boy (R)
Starring: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, James Caan, Susan Sarandon
Directed by: Sean Ander
Adam Sandler desperately wants us to love him. That’s why usually inflicts his characters with some heart-tugging-pathos. This time however, he saddles his character with some stomach-turning-patheticness (sic). The story is about a “celebrity” who achieved his 15-minutes in the spotlight by making his math teacher pregnant when he was 13 years old. The baby from that consummate error, is now a grown up and successful enough for his “dad” to appear for a handout and “a little respect here.” Problem is, the filmmakers don’t respect the audience, preferring instead to phone things in as they ratchet up the gross-out factor “just because we can.”
1/2 piece of bury it dark and deep toast
NEW ON DVD
In Darkness (R)
Starring: Robert Wieckiewicz, Krystopf Skonieczny, Michal Zurawski, MAria Shrader, Herber Knaup, Marcin Bosak
Directed by: Agnieszka Holland
This is one of those “based-on-a-true-story” Hollocaust movies where an ordinary citizen goes to extraordinary lengths to protect complete strangers from certain death. The focus of the film, is a Polish sewer-worker and part-time burglar, who uses the underground system as both escape route and hiding place for his loot. The man’s life changes when comes upon Nazi storm troopers killing Jewish women. He realizes that there is money to be made from hiding Jews in his sewers, but as he comes to know a few of them as human beings, he becomes their protector. Beatifully filmed, with heart-breaking performances, this film was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar last year.
3 and 1/2 pieces of contrasting darkness and light toast
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (PG-13)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Naomi Rapace, Stephen Fry, Jared Harris
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Dr. Watson is getting married, but if he thinks Holmes will let him have a suitable bachelor party, wedding and honeymoon, then he underestimates his mercurial friend. For Professor Moriarty has resurfaced, and the arch-fiend has aligned himself with bomb-throwing anarchists bent on toppling the crown heads of Europe. Quick witted one-liners, slo-mo shootings and explosions, a Holmes fueled by “a diet of coffee, tobacco and coca leaves,” and the spark between Downey and Law makes this work.
3 pieces of high school (aka, post-elementary) toast
Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds (PG-13)
Starring: Tyler Perry, Gabrielle Union, Thandie Newton
Directed by: Tyler Perry
Confusion, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and a choice between familial expectations and love are Shakespearian themes—and they happen here when a wealthy businessman is attracted to the hard-working cleaning woman in his office building, and offers to help pay her rent.
2 pieces of Tyler Perry predictability toast