Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 9/14/12

Finding Nemo 3-D (G)

Starring the voices of : Albert Brooks, Alexander Gould, Ellen DeGneres, Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett, Allison Janney, Geoffrey Rush, Barry Humphries, and, since it’s a Pixar animated film, John Ratzenberger

Directed By: Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
The splendiferous, Oscar-winning, Pixar classic about a single father who searches the Pacific for his kidnapped son is even more marvelous on the big screen in 3-D. Oh, did I mention that dad and son are clown fish? First released around Father’s Day a decade ago, the snappy story line, astounding voice talent, technical perfection, of the truly original original, are only improved by that “I can almost touch it” feeling.

4 pieces of “awesome dude” toast

 

Arbitrage (NR) 

Starring: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Nate PArker, Brit MArling, Tim Roth

Directed by: William Friedkin
There is a familiarity to this film as the actors comfortably portray character types they have played before. The film avoids the street-level anger that many feel against the financial wheeler-dealers who feel “entitled,” and instead reveals a man whose morality is shaped by stealing his share quicker than the other guys. Having rationalized his work behaviors, he uses the same duplicity with his wife, mistress and daughter. But after he falls asleep while driving, and his girlfriend burns to death, he literally runs from responsibility. Enter stage right: that world-weary cop who seems to be able to look him in the eye and tell that he’s lying. Enter stage left: the intelligent daughter who knows when the books have been cooked.

3 pieces of may move too slowly for the under 30’s toast

 

 

Killer Joe (NC-17)

Starring: Matthew McConaughy, Emile Hirsch, THomas Hayden Church, Gina Gershon

Directed by: William Freidkin

The director who made The Exorcist and The French Connection made a film last year called The Master’s Touch: Hithchcock’s Signature Style so we know he understands the wisdom that, “less is more.”  But in an odd twist of release dates, he has two quite different films debuting locally the same week. The restrained, buttoned-down one is the high budget, Richard Gere vehicle Arbitrage.  Then there is Killer Joe, which is a film so crowded with taboo themes like mother-killing, child suffocation, psychological abuse, kinky sex, and a sociopathic cop who moonlights as a hit man because he likes the rush as much as the money, that most movie-goers should stay far, far away. When the title character learns that his pay-in-advance fee to kill a mother for her insurance won’t be available until after the policy pays off, he decides to take the nubile, trailer park daughter with him as his “retainer.” Not to give away too much, the ending is like a Jerry Springer family feud gone completely insane.

3 pieces of heed the NC-17 rating toast

 

 

Last Ounce of Courage (PG)

Starring: Marshall Teague, Jennifer O’Neill, Fred Williamson, Nikki Novak

Directed By: Darrell Campbell, Kevin S. McAfee,
This cheaply-made film depicts a country in some parallel universe where Christmas has no baby Jesus, a man’s patriotism is measured by the size of his stars and stripes flag, and “those G** D****d, special interests have stripped our once proud country of it’s manhood. The titular hero is a Harley-riding, small town mayor in the mountains of some unnamed western state of mind. But the real star is the ubiquitous guy in the shadows who suddenly bursts forward to confront all the perceived wrongs and make them right again.

1 piece of should have gone straight to video toast

 

Resident Evil: Retribution (R)

Starring: Milla Jovovich, Shawn Roberts, Michelle Rodriguez, Oded Fehr, Bing-bing Li

Directed By: Paul W.S. Anderson

Alice the zombie killer squeezes into a new skintight leather outfit in this latest of the video game inspired series, but not much else is new. Oh, did I forget the part where Alice is a blonde suburban mom with a cute little daughter? Not really. That bit is just here to make those brain-imbibing new neighbors more accessible to some marketing team’s dreams of a wider demographic. Why bother? The same game-obsessed young males who made the other films so profitable, will pay to see this one too. No disappointments for them. Alice whips her trusty shotguns our of her back holsters at the hint of zombie and even manages to recruit Ada, a leggy Asian sidekick (in all senses of that word) to wage war against the evil Umbrella Corporation. The x-ray views of bones shattering and arrows piercing vital organs should keep those paying customers happy.

2 pieces of they’ll keep churning out sequels as long as they make millions toast

 

NEW ON DVD

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 several months left to 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 

 

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (PG-13)
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Matthew J. Morrison, Brooklyn Decker, Anna Kendrick
Directed by: Kirk Jones
Here’s another rom-com based on a popular advice book, only this one fizzles. The female contingent of new mothers, mothers-to-be, and women-who-desperately-want-to-be-mothers  are fine, but the husbands and boyfriends have one-liners that sound like they were written for Ricky Ricardo when “Lucy” was a new TV show. There are about ten minutes of really good material onscreen, but the film drags on for 110 minutes, and if you want lots of laughs, you should significantly lower your expectations.

1 and 1/2 pieces of don’t expect lots of laughs toast

 

Girl In Progress (PG-13)
Starring: Eva Mendes, Matthew Modine, Cierra Ramirez

Directed by: Patricia Riggen

This mother-daughter, coming-of-age story has the daughter using a wall chart to forecast the required plot points and story arc. However, when the  various points are checked off, one-by-one, this is done without any of the self-conscious freshness of the opening scenes, and the whole thing fizzles away as the characters remain one-dimensional and uninteresting.

1 and 1/2 pieces of stale toast

 

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