Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 11/30/12


A Royal Affair (PG)

Starring: Mads Mikelsen, Alicia Viklander, Mikkkel Boe Felsgaard

Directed by: Nikolaj Arcel

Denmark in the mid 1700’s is seldom considered part of the Age of Enlightenment, but as this marvelous historical drama, The Royal Affair, shows, a live triangle involving the Denmark’s dull king, his vibrant young bride, and the smoldering court physician reveal that still water runs deep. The doctor’s “modern, egalitarian” points of view are at odds with the stodgy, Bible-thumping Royal Court, and the affair just adds lots and lots of fuel to the fire. This film has ben nominated by Denmark for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category, and it’s a very strong contender.

3 and 1/2  pieces of a there’s something fresh from Denmark toast 

Killing Them Softly (R)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini, Ray Liota, Richard Jenkins.

Directed By: Andrew Dominik
This gritty, down and dirty film about hit men eschews any attempts on romancing or sanitizing their deadly deeds. There is any edginess to everything onscreen—an edginess that uncovers the underbellies of guys doing something to other guys before it will, inevitably, get done to them. Since I have complained about the glib, cavalier attitudes of previous gangland movie psychopaths I should probably appreciate the honesty shown onscreen, but I don’t.  It just made me feel like I needed a long, very hot shower or a swim in a soul-cleansing ocean.

1 and 1/2 pieces of just because I appreciate the film’s honesty doesn’t mean I recommend it toast 

The Collection (PG-13)

Starring: Josh Stewart, Thierry Neuvic, Emma Fitzpatrick

Directed By: Marcus Dunstan
In this sequal to The Collector, the connection between tortuous mutilation of victims and sexual perversity are explored in the same campy way of the original film. The collection of slicers and dicers for human flesh has grown, but the sense of watching a well-made horror film has dessicated into dry nothingness. Apparently the victim from the first film teams up with some professional killers hired to release the collector’s newest (and female) victim.

Gil doesn’t watch slasher films


ParaNorman (PG)

Starring the voices of: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Casey Affleck, Tucker Albrizzi, Jeff Garlin, John Goodman, Bernard Hill

Directed By: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
The setting is a creepy-looking hamlet called Blithe Hollow, which is threatened by 300-year-old curse of long-dead witches returning to destroy everything. So it’s a good thing that Norman, the stop-motion animated youngster star of ParaNorman can hear dead people, because they provide advance warnings about the invasion of these zombies. Masterfully crafted by the people who made Coraline and Flushed Away, this darkly humorous movie works for kids and adults alike with some genuinely spooky bits and lots of empathy and honest emotion.

3 pieces of animated spooky humor toast

Sparkle (PG-13)

Starring: Jordin Sparkes, Whitney Houston, Derek Luke, Mike Epps

Directed By: Salim Akil
As Whitney Houston’s final film, this movie already has a place in history. Sadly, the tale of three singing sisters who want to “make it big,” has such a predictable plot, that it almost sinks the whole thing. Sibling rivalries, avaricious males, murder, badly staged musical performances and a frankly drug-addled Houston just make bigger and bigger holes in this leaky old tub and the whole thing barely limps into port, Only Jordin Sparks manages to stay dry.

2 pieces of tarnished sparkle toast

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

Men In Black 3 (R) 
Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson

Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld

Those of us who remember the original MIB fondly, will cringe at this limp update. The idea is that an alien serial killer travels back to 1969 to retrieve the arm that was blown off by Agent K. This means that Agent J will have to board a time machine (that looks an awful lot like the one in the 1960 George Pal movie), to protect his going-to-be partner. Since Agent K is a lot younger, James Brolin gets to play the craggy-faced Tommy Lee Jones character as a younger, but still cock-sure, angry Elvis-type. Sonnenfeld directs like he has just discovered the close up, and he manages to let some of the funniest set ups fizzle like the sound an Arquillian swamp beast makes when you pull it’s finger.

2  pieces of often labored toast