Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases for 11/02/12
Starring: Denzel Washington, Bruce Greenwood, Brian Geraghty, Don Cheadle, Melissa Leo, John Goodman
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Whip Whitaker is a commercial airline pilot who uses drugs, booze and sex the evening before his Orlando departure. When the plane literally turns belly up, catastrophe is averted by Whip’s coolness under pressure. Saving the lives of almost all 102 people onboard, Whip confronts his reluctant hero status with rationalizations galore. In a classic addictive personality fashion, he begins to believe that the drugs and vodka are what made him “loose” enough to perform the incredible feat of flying. Not surprisingly, others have a decidedly different take on Whip’s addictions. The entire movie is exceptional, with some of this year’s best acting onscreen, and Zemeckis and his special effects guys making us wonder once again “how did they do that?”
3 and 1/2 pieces of intriguing storylines toast
Wreck It Ralph (PG)
Starring the voices of: John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch
Directed By: Rich Moore
In Monster Inc. fashion, we discover that the characters who populate arcade video games exist in some parallel universe after the game is over. Ralph is the 9 foot tall, 643 pound, self-described “bad guy” who delights in destroying all the constructions made in the popular Fix It Felix game (which looks a lot like Donkey Kong). Of course, like the aforementioned scary monsters, Ralph is actually a lovable, well-intentioned kind of guy who wants to be the hero in some other game. I’ll be interested to see how this film works with the junior-high-and-younger demographic targeted for the film. I haven’t played a video game since my grown up children took their equipment with them when they moved out, but I still recognized the Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Mario-Brothers and Sonic the Hedgehog style characters onscreen, But do younger players addicted to the slick CG/3D stuff even know who these guys are—or care?
3 pieces of video game-based, family-friendly animation toast
The Man With the Iron Fists (R)
Starring: Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Cung Le , Rick Yune
Directed By: RZA (Robert Fitzgerald Diggs)
The director grew up watching 1970’s and 80’s Asian martial arts films, and has constructed an homage of sorts, by remaking all the best set pieces and stringing them together in one movie. Scenes of hand-to-hand combat featuring flashing fists, blades and fighters whirling through the air on invisible wires is the only reason to see this movie. The story, crammed with pseudo honor and revenge, is just the coat hanger to hang everything else on.
2 pieces of great for its limited audience toast
Starring: Adam O’Brian, Alan Teichman, Anna Rubin, Maria Jesus Hoyos
Directed By: Bart Layton
Jaycee Dugard’s incredible story proves that at least a few of the children on milk cartons do return home. This glimmer of hope is what fuels the certainty of the Texas family whose kidnapped son is found huddled in a phone booth in Spain years later. Except it is obvious to the audience that since this fellow now speaks with a French accent, is older than the missing teen, and has brown eyes instead of blue, that something about this is very suspicious. Presented in a quasi-documentary style, we learn of the tremendous psychological needs thrust upon the family, and how the desire to have a “happily ever after”conclusion can really mess things up.
3 pieces of fascinating “true story” toast
The Details (R)
Starring: Tobey Maquire, Ray Liota, Kerry Washington, Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney
Directed by: Jacob Aaron Estes
I learned from a recent TV show, that raccoons imported as pets have been set free and are now destroying centuries-old temples and other historic structures in Japan with their burrowing, chewing and excrement. Those masked creatures are the villains in this story too. A suburban baby doctor is so proud of his new lawn, that he becomes obsessed when raccoons dig it up searching for grubs. War is declared, and we watch as the porn-surfing, father-to-be, and clandestine builder of an illegal addition to his house juggles too many things at once to be a worthy opponent for those furry fiends.
2 and 1/2 of Tobey’s not Spiderman anymore toast
Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (R)
Starring: Adelaide Clemens, Sean Bean, Radha Mitchell
Directed By: Michael J. Bassett
A long-burning fire in an underground coal mine acts as Hell in this kill-or-be-killed West Virginia community.
Gil doesn’t watch slasher films
NEW ON DVD
The Campaign (R)
Starring: Will Farrell, Zach Galifanikis, Jason Sudeikis, Katherine La Nasa
Directed by: Jay Roach
An incumbent North Carolina congressman seems a shoe-in until he makes an incredible political gaffe, and finds himself in a real contest against a pudgy, naive idealist backed by multi-gazillionaire brothers named Motch. In a series of Saturday Night Live style-set pieces, the candidates’ ratings rise when they do things like shoot the other one with a crossbow. Problem is, the people who made this satire inexplicably pulled their punches during a surreal campaign season that provides so many opportunities for humor (as Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert know so well). Too bad. This could have been something special.
2 and 1/2 pieces of political satire light toast
Safety Not Guaranteed (R)
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jenica Bergere, Kristen Bell
Directed by: Colin Treverrow
An Internet ad seeking a partner “with weapons” to ride shotgun in a time machine is the basis for this Seattle-based film. Magazine interns seek out the guy and, since this is a rom-com, become involved in his quest while at the same time questioning his sanity. After meeting all the players, the film shifts to “correcting”mistakes each made in the past. But, that old conundrum of paradoxical results can just as easily make things worse instead of better.
3 pieces of indie time traveler or loonie? toast
Ruby Sparks (R)
Starring: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Elliott Gould, Chris Messina, Annette Benning, Antonio Banderas
Directed by: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Remember John Hughes 1985 comedy Weird Science, where the two nerds create the girl of their dreams on a computer and she mysteriously comes alive? Or the Greek myth of the sculptor whose statue of PYgmalion comes alive? Now make those geeks or the sculptor into a guy who writes his novel on a typewriter—and you have the premise behind this movie. But this film will sneak up on you. It starts out in typical rom-com fashion, and cleverly morphs into a story with depth and heart. Part of this is due to the real life chemistry going on between the guy (Paul Dano) and the girl (Zoe Kazan, Elia’s grandaughter, who also wrote the screenplay). They are a couple behind the camera too. Then there is the excellent work by the big name supporting cast. But, as always, it’s the screenplay that makes this work so well. Savor, enjoy and tell your friends about Ruby Sparks.
3 and 1/2 pieces of talented 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