Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 1/18/13

Rust and Bone  (R)

Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Armand Verdure, Celine Sallette

Directed By:  Jacques Audlard


Like Ariel the mermaid and Prince Eric, the human in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, the characters in this film come from different worlds. Here, the female is a whale trainer at Marineland, and the male is a single father who works as a bouncer at a nightclub. They meet by chance, and when she ends up in a wheelchair after a tragic work accident, she inexplicably turns to the rough-hewn man for help and the will to live.

3 pieces suspend disbelief for this fairy tale toast 


The Last Stand (R)

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Peter Stormare, Luis Guzman, Jamie Alexander, Johnny Knoxville

Directed by: Kim Jee-Woon

A former LAPD narcotics detective who looks a lot like the former governor of California, takes a low-key job in a sleepy border town. Those of you who think that this bucolic existence will soon be invaded by an escaped drug kingpin and his well-armed minions raise your hand. It’s all familiar territory, but those who like this kind of thing will like this one too.

3 pieces of formulaic Schwarzenegger toast 


Broken City (R)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe,CAtherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper, Kyle Chandler, Jeffrey Wright

Directed By: Allen Hughes

The director who did Book of Eli knows what to do, and the actors are all first rate, so why this film about  political corruption and dirty cops is so listless defies logic. The plot twists are revealed before they happen, the actors try hard in different scenes but never click as a team, the photography is muddy, and the characters talk on and on and on…ZZZZZ.

1 and 1/2 pieces of at least Russell Crowe doesn’t sing in this movie toast


Mama  (PG-13)

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Megan Charpentier, Daniel Kash, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Directed By:  Andres Muschetti

Starring Jessica Chastain before she became a household name, this horror film about two young sisters who have gone feral (wild) after being missing for over five year is produced by Guellermo Del Toro, so I expected something more than the dark, sepia toned flashbacks of the two orphans’ perhaps not quite dead, stringy-haired mother. It’s still creepy though, and might be a good rental on Halloween flick with all the lights out.

2 pieces of say BOO! toast


Holy Motors  (NR)

Starring: Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Eve Mendes, Kylie Minogue, Michel Piccol

Directed By:  Leos Carax

This very unusual movie is the personal vision of filmmaker Leos Carax and just when you think you understand something, a enormous dog walks into the theater or the man in the white limousine dresses like a little old beggar lady or a man’s wife and children are instantly transformed into chimpanzees. In your technicolor dreams, this stream of events seems perfectly normal, but when you are watching another person’s dreams onscreen, it takes some getting used too.

3 you can’t say this isn’t original toast


Rebels With a Cause  (NR)

Narrated by: Frances McDormand

Directed By:  Nancy Kelly, Kenji Yamamoto

Inspired by Mary Griffin’s novel Saving the Marin Coast, this slice of local history tells the little known story of the courageous people who fight to keep the open spaces, farmlands and unspoiled coastlands of Marin and Sonoma Counties free from development. Co presented by PBS station KRCB, the Sonoma Land Trust, and the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival, this award-winning documentary has a special screening at 7:00, Thursday, Jan. 24th at the Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol. The filmmakers Nancy Kelly, Kenji Yamamoto and Mary Griffin will be available for a Q&A.

4 pieces of local empowerment toast

NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure, I am the resident film critic for the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival and am the host/producer of the Word By Word: Conversations With Writers radio program on KRCB-FM. You can listen to a FREE podcast of the 3/8/12 radio interview I did with Nancy Kelly on iTunes at



Won’t Back Down (PG) 

Starring: Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Oscat Issac, Holly Hunter, Rosie Perez

Directed by: Daniel Bamz, Walter Hill
Pennsylvania (and about 20 other states including California) have a law which allows parents to correct problems in a failing school, and even start their own charter school to replace it if necessary. The set up is one which will be familiar to many parents—a mother simply wants to move her daughter from a “low scoring” classroom to one taught by a “really good” teacher instead. She has no idea the firestorm this will precipitate.  Strongly acted by all concerned, the movie paints a picture of “won’t budge an inch” teachers unions, school boards, and State Board of Education, who are adamantly opposed to change—unless it’s their own ideas.

3 pieces of save our schools toast


To Rome With Love (R)
Starring: Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis, Roberto Benigni, Fabio Armilato

Directed by: Woody Allen

Woody Allen continues his European travels by setting his latest film in Rome, where everything seems to be done in short cuts. His characters are played by actors who have played the same persona many times before, and the dialogue sounds like Woody Allen standup. One running gag involves Allen as an unhappily retired opera director overhearing a marvelous singer in the shower. Problem is, the tenor can’t sing as well anywhere else. This fuels a series of farcical scenes written on auto-pilot.  It’s not great Woody Allen this time, but they’ll be another one next year.

2 pieces Woody Allen in Rome toast


Taken 2 (PG-13)

Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, D.B. Sweeney

Directed By: Oliver Megaton
The lesson to learn from this is “Never kill an Albanian with a big family.” The CIA hitman who killed numerous Albanians the first time they kidnapped his daughter, decides to take his family on a much needed vacation, but makes the mistake of choosing Istanbul, which seems to be swarming with angry Albanians. The first film had a certain kind of logic which is completely lacking in this one. The teeth-grinding, grim-faced father repeatedly makes choices which no sane person would do, and audience finally just doesn’t care anymore.

1 and 1/2 pieces of adding a “2” doesn’t make it good toast