Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 3/29/13

On the Road is beautiful, The Host is too plastic

On the Road (PG)

Starring: Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Tom Sturridge, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Alice Bragga

Directed By:  Walter Salles

The Brazilian director who did the Che Guevara road-movie The Motorcycle Diaries, manages to bring Jack Kerouac’s “unfilmable” novel to the screen by avoiding reverential excess. Instead, he explores the geography of time, and place, and thought by taking us on the road again in a ’49 Hudson, and showing flashbacks of the checklist of wives and lovers left behind. The film took a couple years to film, with at least two coast-to-coast road trips punctuated by the stars’ offscreen visits with talk show hosts in “major markets” along the way. The challenges of making the 21st Century look like 1957 were tackled head on, and the result, combined with some very fine acting, is astoundingly beautiful. However, deciding if these icons of the Beat Generation are worthy of adulation—that’s a very personal decision.

3 pieces of beautifully wrought toast


Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (PG-13)

Starring: Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Lance Gross, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Williams, Robbie JOnes

Directed By:  Tyler Perry

The studio says that an ambitious married woman falls for a handsome billionaire and determines to seduce him (in a PG-13 way of course).

Tyler Perry doesn’t screen his movies for critics


G.I. Joe: Retaliation (R)

Starring: Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis, Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, RZA, Jonathan Pryce

Directed By: Jon Chu

Snake Eyes and Jinx return to the big screen to battle the ninja-warriors of COBRA in an attempt to replace POTUS with an impostor in this wants-to-be-louder-than-Transformers movie. But it is wrestler-turned actor Dwayne Johnson who resurrects a dying movie franchise from death by shrinking box-office. The man formerly known as The Rock, adroitly turns a minor character named Roadblock, into the only guy we watch and the one we miss when he’s offscreen. Even so, it’s a movie best left to the youngsters of all ages who like this type of popcorn-fueled frenzy.

2 pieces of yet another action-hero sequel toast


The Host (PG-13)

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Jake Abel, Max Irons, William Hurt, Diane Kruger, Frances Fisher

Directed By: Andrew Niccol

1 and 1/2 pieces Twilight wannabe toast


The We and I (NR)

Starring: Michael Brodie, Teresa Lynn, Lidychen Carrasco, Brandon Diaz

Directed By: Michel Gondry

A group of Bronx teens board the bus on the last day of the school year. Bragging, ragging, gawking, confessing, preening, strutting, cajoling and bullying their peers with harsh realities and winsome wishes, truth and dares, vulnerabilities and a lifetime of opportunities.

3 pieces of school is OUT! toast


Happy People: A Year In the Tiaga (NR)

Directed By: Werner Herzog

300 indigenous people live in the remote Siberian village of Bakhtia on the river Yensai. Accessible (when weather and ice permit) only by boat or helicopter. The camera follows one hardy trapper for all four seasons of one year in his life. Herzog wrote the narration with his distinctive sense of wonder.

3 and 1/2 pieces of astoundingly, harshly, beautiful toast


Lincoln  (PG-13)

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, John Hawkes, Hal Holbrook

Directed by: Stephen Spielberg

A yarn-spinning President, with a high-pitched reedy voice is not what most of us see when we picture Abraham Lincoln, but with Daniel Day-Lewis’s stunning new portrayal, we may change our minds. In the works for over a decade Stephen Spielberg’s vision of the Great Emancipator is above all a man—a  humane, wise, brooding, politically savvy, moody individual who seems to have a quip or wisecrack available at the tip of his stovepipe hat. Focusing on the last few months of his presidency, we delve into the deal-making, arm-twisting, political favoritism and “call it anything but a bribe” realities of Lincoln’s crusade to make Congress enact a Constitutional Amendment abolishing slavery in the United States of America. “We’ve been chasin’ this whale a long time,” Lincoln explains, and the hunt for victory is on.

3 and 1/2  pieces of a whole new Abraham Lincoln toast


A Royal Affair (PG)

Starring: Mads Mikelsen, Alicia Viklander, Mikkkel Boe Felsgaard

Directed byNikolaj Arcel

Denmark in the mid 1700’s is seldom considered part of the Age of Enlightenment, but as this marvelous historical drama shows, a love 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


Parental Guidance (PG)

Starring: Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei

Directed By: Andy Fickman

The man who directed Reefer Madness: the Movie Musical, has ploddingly lead this attempted comedy down a lane of predictability. The set up is that two 20th Century grandparents babysit three rambunctious 21st Century grandkids. Obviously written by a computer taught that hitting grandpa in the groin with a baseball bat is funny, the heavy-handed message that love will conquer all gets lost in all the schtick.

1 and 1/2 pieces of Crystal and Midler deserved better toast