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Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 4/26/13

Renoir (R)

Starring: Michael Bouquet, Christa Theret, Vincent Rottiers, Thomas Doret

Directed By: Gilles Bordos

“Flesh is all that matters” a 71-year-old August Renoir says several times in this film, and that pretty much sums up the celebrated French artist’s life. His current inspiration is a beauty named Andree who doesn’t mind posing nude for a painter so crippled by arthritis that the brushes need to be tied to his hand. But things become complicated when the war-wounded 21-year-old son, Jean Renoir arrives home for recuperation.

3 and 1/2 pieces of French artistry toast 

 

Mud (R)

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Tye Sheride, JAcob Lofland,

Directed By: Jeff Nichols

This Huck Finn tale of how a couple of boys spent their summer vacation contains some very dark elements (just like Mark Twain’s classic story). The title character is discovered living in a boat perched high in a tree by the river’s historic flood last season. “I’m not a bum,” the scruffy fellow insists. “I’ve got money, but I’m in a tight spot.” The tight spot is his mythically powerful love for  woman guarded by a trigger-happy man. The result is a Southern Gothic tale done so well you can almost smell the river mud.

3 and 1/2 pieces of Matthew McConaughey toast

 

The Company You Keep (R)

Starring: Robert Redford, Shia LeBeouf, Richard Jenkins, Chris Cooper, Julie Christie, Nick Nolte, Susan Sarandon, Terrence Howard

Directed By:  Robert Redford

A newspaper reporter tracking down a good story, discovers that several 60’s radicals have been living underground—in plain sight—as farmers, lawyers and college professors. There’s just one problem with this tale. There are frequent references to a “30 years ago” which in reality was 45 years ago, but the actors faces reveal that Redford and Christie and Nolte are septuagenarians. This conceit of the march of time is a fatal flaw no makeup can cover.

2 and 1/2  pieces of miscast actors toast

 

Pain and Gain  (R)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Mark Whalberg, Anthony Mackie, Ed Harris, Tony Shaloub

Directed By:  Michael Bay

When two losers decide to kidnap a Florida gym owner and have him sign over his bank account and properties to them, the flaws are obvious to everyone in the audience. Along the way, they recruit a fellow gym rat (Dwayne Johnson) who ends up stealing the movie. This wrestler-turned-actor deftly handles the improbable stuff  thrown his way with a screen persona that makes us like everything he does, even when it is a farcical caper film that has been littered with extraneous explosions and theme music with a deep, deep bass line, just because the director likes using them.

2 and 1/2  pieces of another movie worth seeing because of  Dwayne Johnson toast

 

No Place on Earth (PG-13)

Starring: Bal, Chris Nicola, D, Fruszina Pelik, Saul Sterner, Sima Dodyk

Directed By: Janet Tobias

Consider this a hybrid documentary. When a spelunker discovers artifacts deep within a Ukranian cave system, he learns they were left by Jewish families escaping from almost certain death during WWII. Asking local people about the cave-dwellers sets him on a historical mystery tour that eventually leads to survivors from those depths. The filmmakers have cast actors to portray some of the incidents which occurred underground 70 years ago, and then intercut these scenes with the spelunker’s quest for answers. Unfortunately, the result is clunky, and sometimes jarring as we rapidly shift from the past to today. Even so, the story of survival is a powerful tale—just not told in the best way.

2 piece of  a powerful story that needed more finesse in the telling toast

 

The Big Wedding (R)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace, Robin Williams

Directed By: Justin Zakham

With the pedigree of this project—excellent actors, a story taken from a popular French farce, and the screenwriter from The Bucket List—this should have been funny. But instead of the fast-pace satire of the French original, we have a movie that needs Geritol or something. The pace is too slow, the set ups to long, the punch lines too obvious, and the end result is appallingly bad.

1 pieces of  absolutely unfunny toast

 

NEW DVD RELEASES

The Impossible (PG-13)

Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland,

Directed By: Juan Antonio Bayona

The morning after Christmas, a family vacationing in Thailand is relaxing around the hotel pool when a speeding wall of black water rushes towards them. This is a film where the audience feels they are trapped by the tsunami along with the characters. Avoiding melodrama, the movie lets things evolve the way they did to the real Spanish family who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. NOTE: This is a tear-jerker that works at the core of your emotions. If you are afraid of water, stay far, far away from this film, it is truly terrifying and realistic.

3 and 1/2 pieces of nature is powerful but the human spirit is too toast

 

Promised Land (R)

Starring: Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Frances McDormand, Rosemarie DeWitt, Hal Holbrook

Directed By: Gus Van Sant

A male-female corporate sales team is sent to offer a struggling rural community a tremendous opportunity to make a bit of money or, destroy their family farmlands. This dichotomy is the driving force of this film about fracking—the underground injection of water and chemicals to release natural gas. Costars Damon and Krasinski co-wrote the screenplay (and Damon was originally slated to direct) and were perhaps a little to much in love with the words on the page in some of the longer speeches to make any cuts. The story ostensibly tries to show both sides of the issue, but a greedy multinational corporation is such an easy target, and photos of dead and dying farm animals are such a strong argument against fracking, that even-handedness quickly evaporates.

2 and 1/2 pieces of kinda simplistic 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 

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