Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 8/31/12

 

Lawless (R)

Starring: Shia LeBeouf, Guy Pearce, Tom Hardy, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain

Directed By: John Hillcoat
If there is a story underneath all the “Bonnie and Clyde”-style bullet-riddled cars and red, red, blood in this gritty tale of moonshine, corruption and lust in the heyday of America’s “great experiment,” then it’s squandered by John Hillcoat’s aimless direction. It’s a tall-tale of three brothers from the Virginia hills who crank out illegal corn liquor and aspire to (pick one) become a big-city gangster, canoodle with the “hostess” in their “restaurant,” or marry the preacher’s daughter. Actually, the minimal screen time allocated to the two women shows they are there to make sure everyone in the audience knows the brothers are heterosexuals. One thing good, however is the musical score by Nick Cave. My prediction is that the music CD will have a longer life than the movie.

1 and 1/2 pieces of why don’t they stop romanticizing gangsters toast

 

Searching for Sugar Man (PG-13)

Starring: Sixto Rodriguez, Ilse Assmann, Clarence Avant, Malik Benjelloul

Directed By: Malik Benjelloul
Forty years ago, a singer/songwriter known as Rodriguez was hailed in the USA as “the Mexican-American Bob Dylan,” but soon after his album “Cold Fact” went platinum in, of all places,  South Africa, he was rumored to have set himself on fire onstage and then disappeared. This fabulously intriguing documentary starts out as a “whatever happened to?” mystery and ends up as a triumphant affirmation of talent as we travel from the construction yards of Detroit to the urban jungles of South Africa and lots of care-worn places in between.

3 and 1/2 pieces of good guys sometimes do win toast

 

The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure (G) 

Starring: Christopher Lloyd, Cary Elwes, Jamie Pressley, Cloris Leachman, Chaz Palmenteri

Directed by: Matthew Diamond
This movie offers one explanation for why there is a world-wide helium shortage. Designed for the 3-and-under set, the logistics of having toddlers go to the movies and sit still long enough to watch the whole thing means that parents or grandparents will have to go with them. This may prove difficult. There are three main characters in this kaleidoscopic confusion of color and very loud noises. Zoozie, the girl, Goobie, the moderately intelligent one, and Toofie, who keeps losing his pants so audience members can interactively yell from their seats, “Goofy Toofie, pick up your pants!” at the top of their lungs. Imagine a nightmarish sing-along version of “Mamma-Mia,” or “Rocky Horror-Picture Show,” with an audience of very short people high on some mind-altering chemical substance like red-dye #2, and you’ll get a tiny little sliver of the completely unfathomable goings-on in this film and in the theaater. Earplugs are highly recommended.

1 and 1/2 pieces of What the heck is going on here? toast

 

 

The Possession (PG-13)

Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick

Directed by: Ole Bornedal

and

The Apparition (PG-13)

Starring: Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan

Directed by: Todd Lincoln
It’s unusual for me to write about two films at the same time, but these “Exorcism of Emily Rose” and “Paranormal Activity” knockoffs are so generic in their artless, low-budget obviousness, that it just saves everyone time and money.

1/2 piece of skip both of ‘em toast

 

A Cat In Paris (PG)

Starring the voices of : Marcia Gay Harden, Steven Blum, Anjelica Huston, Matthew Modine (In the American release)

Directed by: Jean Loup Fellicioli, Alain Gagnol
If you think a little girl named Zoe becoming mute after her father’s murder and her capture by the gangsters is an unusual premise for an animated film you would be right. Add to this that the hero is Dino the cat, the comrade in crime to a sad-faced cat-burglar named Nico, and you have the makings of this decidedly non-Disney, Oscar nominated,  animated tale from France. You will revel in the film’s artistry and quirky characters, it’s intense color palette and the contrasting sequence of white-on-white. it’s only problem is that it’s just 69 minutes long, and you want to stay captivated a little longer.

3 and 1/2 pieces of decidedly not Disney toast

 

Celeste and Jesse Forever (R)

Starring: Andy Samberg, Rashida Jones, Elijah Wood, Emma Roberts

Directed by: Lee Toland Krieger
Demographics dictate that rom-coms about couple breaking up are “hot” right now, and the Celeste in the title should know—she’s a professional trend-analyzer.  Trouble is, she only sees these trends after they’ve peaked, and therefore she doesn’t see the couple’s break up coming. She’s a workaholic, he’s a laid back surfer type (waves not internet) who still has a crush on Celeste after the breakup and therefore decides (in classic rom-com stupidity) to start a relationship with someone he doesn’t really care about to make his ex jealous. Can you guess where this is going, Do you want to tag along and hear lines that are so trite you can simultaneously say them along with the characters. That’s up to you, but I predict the trend to watch this flick will be over very, very soon

2 pieces of gets an R-rating for using words not allowed on the TV shows the stars come from toast

 

 

NEW ON DVD

Pirates! Band of Misfits (PG)
Starring the voices of: Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson, Martin Freeman. Imelda Staunton, Brian Blessed, Salma Hayak

Directed by: Peter Lord

Technically, the British-accented sailors in this animated delight are Privateers—sailing under the flag and protection of Queen Victoria. Full of bluster and bombast, the film is like a throwback to those golden days of Looney Tunes, where characters defy gravity and anatomical laws of nature as they fly through the air and crash into various masts, sails, rocks, figureheads and other creatures. The claymation techniques of Aardman Animation are perfect for 3-D, adding to the sense of absurdity, delight and joyfulness. The script is a marvel of intelligent detail as the Captain’s “Parrot” turns out to be an “extinct” dodo bird, and the crew become amateur scientists who mix things like baking soda and vinegar together “just to see what happens.” Kabooom!

3 and 1/2 pieces of lets us be kids again 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 

 

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 but without any fire toast

 

Battleship (PG-13)
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Liam Neeson

Directed by: Peter Berg

When I first heard the title, I immediately flashed on the board game involving inch-long plastic ships and nail-clipping-sized torpedoes shielded from your opponent by the board’s flip-up cover. Then I learned that the Hasbro game is the source of this film. Funny, I don’t remember the angry extra-terrestrials bent on destroying humankind in the original version.  It seems we deserve all the havoc, because we were the ones who upset the ETs by shining that nasty satellite laser into their eyes. The result is a summer-movie orgy of explosions, five or six lines of dialogue (usually from men who talk with their teeth clenched shut), and then another series of loud, louder, loudest explosions. I just wonder if the film is trying to ensure that the Navy’s battleship budget doesn’t get cut. “We need this new battleship,” says the lobbyist to Congress, “in case we are attacked by angry aliens!”

2 and 1/2 pieces of loud, louder, loudest toast