Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 1/11/13

Zero Dark Thirty (R)

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerto, Mark Strong, Jennifer Ehle, Kyle Chandler, Edgar Ramirez

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow

Our search for definitive answers is partially resolved in this dramatically satisfying (but fictionalized) account of the hunt for and death of Osama Bin Ladin. Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal proved with The Hurt Locker that they are in the elite cadre of really, really good action/suspense directors and writers, and they top that tour de force here. Some of the scripted action has been criticized for being too “revealing,” or “incendiary,” or even”disloyal,” but from a story telling point-of-view, these moral ambiguities only make the film more powerful.

4 pieces of must see to be able to discuss it toast 


Gangster Squad (R)

Starring: Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Robert Patrick, Michael Pena, Givani Ribisi, Emma Stone, Sean Penn

Directed By: Ruben Fleischer

Fueled by gambling, gals and guns, and protected by the local police and politicos, mob boss Mickey Cohen rules post-WW2 Los Angeles. But an elite band of LAPD outsiders secretly plot to take Cohen down. There’s a load of talented people involved in this project, but choosing the director of  Zombieland to sit in the chair was a bad move. The result is very disappointing and what should have/ could have been a cross between The Untouchables and L.A. Confidential fizzles instead.

2 pieces of wasted talents and opportunities toast


Brooklyn Castle  (PG)

Starring: Justus Williams, Alexes Paredes, Pobo Efekoro, Patrick Johnson, Elizabeth Spiegel, Michael John Galvin

Directed By:  Katie Dellamaggiore

The chess team at an inner-city junior high has won more national championships than any other school in the country, but losses in the kid’s lives and the possible shut-down of their school have impacts far greater than any trophies. Never doubt the dedication of teachers, the creativity, vitality and resilience of youth, and the life-changing power of chess.

3 and 1/2 pieces of talented kids, chess, inner-city lives, and hope toast


The House I Live In (PG-13)

Starring: Michelle Alexander, Shaniqua Benitez, Mark Bennett, Mike Carpenter, Larry Cleary, Eric Franklin

Directed By: Eugene Jarecki

This winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at Sundance, uncovers the total failure of the so-called “War on Drugs.” Launched with great fanfare by President Nixon, the decades of politically motivated but misguided criminalization and incarceration of low-level users has resulted in overcrowded prisons, broken families, militarization of police forces, immigration inequities, oodles of money being made by international criminals, and fortunes and careers being made by “acting tough” on this volatile issue. We in the North Bay see the inconsistencies and blatant abuses of power on a daily basis by local, regional, state and national law enforcement and criminal justice systems when weed that is “licensed and legal” in one jurisdiction brings jail time and forfeiture of property in the city or county next door. The film’s strength is augmented by the realistic call for action to change the diatribes to rational discourse and create action plans for reasonable, and lasting changes.

3 and 1/2 pieces sifting through the paranoid propaganda toast 


A Haunted House  (R)

Starring: Marlon Wayons, Essence Atkins, Nick Swardson, Cedric the Entertainer

Directed by: Michael Tiddes

Marlon Wayans says this is his humorous “if Paranormal Activity happened to a black couple,” movie, but he didn’t want critics to see it.

Not available for preview



Frankenweenie (PG)

Starring the voices of: Charlie Tahan, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Winona Ryder, Martin Landau, Conchita Farrell

Directed by: Tim Burton

Concerned that their son Victor is spending too much time in the attic with his science experiments, a couple encourages him to go out and meet new friends so, as the dad says, “no one gets what they want.” The lad gets involved in a baseball game, hits a home run, and watches in horror as his beloved dog Sparky chases the ball and gets killed by a car. Victor mourns for a bit and then decides to dig up his beloved pet and re-animate him like Dr. Frankenstein did with that tall fellow all those years ago. Made in classic stop-motion animation style by a director who loves working in this medium, this weird tale works.

3 and 1/2  pieces of animated Tim Burton toast 


Samsara (PG-13)

Directed By: Ron Fricke

Way back in 1988, a mind-blowing documentary entitled  Koyaanisquatsi mixed music, voices, ambient noises and stunning visuals like time lapse photos of freeways at rush hour or skyscrapers at night to show audiences what the filmmakers called “life out of balance.” Several sequels followed over the years, and a collaborator on the original film has now made his own movie. It is, simply put, a collection of exceedingly beautiful images of natural and man-made environments edited in juxtaposition to “make you think.” It is lovely to watch, but (and this is a big but) compared to the recent IMax projects revealing the wonders of this planet we live on, instead of seeming new and fresh, it just seems beautifully comfortable—rather than transformational.

3 pieces of “ever-turning wheel of life” toast