Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 11/09/12


Skyfall  (PG-13)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardeem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomi Harris Albert Finney

Directed by: Sam Mendes

Entirely new but still very familiar, the latest in the James Bond franchise is a re-set of what we thought we knew about 007. The covert establishment is still present, but existential cyber-age threats force MI-6 into a heavily shielded underground lair and although M is still greying, the fresh-faced Q looks like he’s cramming for his A-levels. Befitting a government assassin, Daniel Craig’s Bond has always had a cold-bloodedness about him, but this time he’s more nuanced, more vulnerable, more human. There are all the set pieces, flash cars, gorgeous women, lavish settings, and cool gadgets, but director Sam Mendes and his cinematographer Roger Deakins — well, to quote an earlier Bond theme song, “Nobody does it better.”

3 and 1/2  pieces of James Bond shaken and stirred toast


Sessions (R)

Starring: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Alan Arkin

Directed By: Ben Lewin
Although he is paralyzed from the neck down, and he can only be out of his iron lung for a few hours at a time, 38-year old Mark O’Brian is a sexual being. Despite not having “seen my penis since I was 6-years old,” he knows it’s still there, and with the moral guidance from his parish priest, he hires a professional sex surrogate. Clinical at first, a relationship grows over time, and the audience watches this unfold in every, explicit detail. Avoiding sentimentality, this film is made with sensitivity and appreciation of the gift of being alive.

3 and 1/2  pieces of a great film for grown ups toast


The Other Son (PG-13)

Starring: Jules Sitruk, Mehdi Debhi, Diana Zriek, Marie Wisselmann

Directed By: Lorraine Levy
A parable is designed to teach a lesson. This film is a parable. It involves two young men who were accidentally switched at birth. The Israeli/French boy was mistakingly raised by Palestinian parents, and the Arab boy was raised by Jews. Just before their 18th birthdays, the families learn about the mistake. So what happens now? At first, the parents, boys and families don’t believe the facts. Then they get angry. They try to make deals. They go on an emotional roller coaster. These are all classic reactions to grief,  but they never quite get to the final stage—acceptance. This lack of closure is fueled by history and the realities of living in a partitioned world and the ironies are laid bare for us to contemplate.

3 pieces of “let me tell you a story” toast


The Waiting Room (NR)

Starring: Demia Bruce, Eric Morgan, Davelo Llujan, Carl Connelly, Barbara Johnson

Directed By: Peter Nicks
The waiting room at Oakland’s Highland Hospital  has the title role in Peter Nicks’ documentary. Filmed over a 5-month period, we witness capable doctors and nurses overwhelmed by the inexorable constancy of triage care, and meet blood-soaked patients, and distraught families at their most vulnerable times. Three stories began to take shape. The little girl with a dangerously high fever from an undiagnosed infection; the 30-year-old with a testicular tumor, and the homeless alcoholic who barely survived his latest bender. No statistics here. No stentorian voice-overs, just the depressing realization of just how broken America’s medical care system really is.

3 and 1/2 pieces of Obamacare’s got some huge challenges toast




Your Sister’s Sister (R)
Starring: Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass, Rosemarie DeWitt

Directed by: Lynn Shelton

Onstage, this would be one of those one-set, three actor pieces of dramatic farce. The story line is that an alcoholic woman mourning for her dead boyfriend decides to dry out in the family cabin. The boyfriend’s drunk brother appears on her doorstep, and the two “bond” in bed. The guy hides when the sister appears in the early morning, and thus begins a farce filled with the requisite number of choreographed exits and entrances, misheard snippets of conversations, and mistaken assumptions. Slight, corny, and very well done.

3 pieces of was that my sister I saw you with? toast


Arthur Christmas (PG) 

Starring the voices of: James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent,Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton

Directed by: Sarah Smith, Barry Cook

Stop-motion masters Aardman create a 3-D Christmas tale that reveals some of Santa’s best kept secrets (which I won’t spoil for you here—but did you ever Wonder how that Jolly Old Elf managed to get to every child’s house in one night?). Clever bits of frantic, wry humor may pass over the heads of the younger set, but the adults in the seats next to them will chuckle. I suggest you plan to leave before Justin Bieber’s inane song starts playing over the end credits.

3 and 1/2 pieces of claymation Christmas toast

The Amazing Spider Man (R)
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Rhys Ifans, Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary

Directed by: Marc Webb

In John Borman’s classic Arthurian legend film “Excaliber,” the magician reveals that he’s only the “current Merlin” and that there have been many others by the same name in the past. That’s the attitude behind the newest Spiderman film. We know that the guy in the suit is smarter and more emotional than Tobey Maguire was in the role, but we quickly adapt, and delight watching a re-boot of events we thought we had seen before. Since the style this time is “less-is-more,” some will miss the numerous whiz-bang action scenes from the previous films, but when the webs fly, it’s worth the wait.

3  pieces of a Spidey re-booted toast