Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 5/10/13

The Great Gatsby is only okay, Peoples is funny

The Great Gatsby (PG-13)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher

Directed By: Baz Luhrmann

The 1920‘s zeitgeist F. Scott Fitzgerald portrays in his classic novel The Great Gatsby has been carefully choreographed by 21st Century Australian director  Baz Luhrmann with a hip-hop soundtrack. There’s lots of glitz and glamor in the first half, and DiCaprio and Maguire take turns stealing scenes, but the second half, with it’s doomed downward spiral, is ounderwhelming. End result, instead of being “Great” its just an “Okay” Gatsby.

2 and 1/2 pieces of see it for DiCaprio and Maguire toast 


Home Run (PG-13)

Starring: Scott Elrod, Dorian Brown, Vivica A. Fox

Directed By: David Boyd

The ballplayer whose inner demons and alcoholism derail what should have been a stellar career is the stuff of headlines, but in this film, it gets relegated to the funny pages. We begin with flashbacks of a warped childhood, catch glimpses of a master of the diamond’s alcohol fueled self destruction, and end up with a faith-based, Bad News Bears advertisement for AA.

2 and 1/2 pieces of its a bunt instead of a home run toast


Peoples (PG-13)

Starring: Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington, David Allen Grier

Directed By:  Tina Gordon Chism

Meet the Parents has been recast with African-Americans in this formulaic (but still funny) sit-com. “He” entertains children with songs like “its OK to pee your pants.” “She” is a UN attorney whose wealthy family live in Sag Harbor. The “new”(but really long term) boyfriend gets introduced to a family with lots of assumptions on both sides, lots of things hidden in metaphorical closets, and lots of  well-timed laughs.

3  pieces of Tyler Perry should be taking notes toast


Aftershock (R)

Starring: Eli Roth, Andrea Osvart, Lorenzo Izzo, Selena Gomez

Directed By:  Nicolas Lopez

What starts off as a boozy tourists gone wild in Chile, takes a catastrophic turn when a massive earthquake strikes and audiences are forced to watch the characters die grisly deaths—in closeups, and with more blood than you thought a human body could hold.

1 and 1/2  pieces of gruesome disaster movie toast


Mumia (R)

Starring: Mumia Abu Jamal, Cornel West, Alice Walker, Angel Davis, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, Peter Coyote

Directed By:  Stephen Vittoria

Fans of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, know how much fun it is to juxtapose the rambling ravings of Fox News commentators with clips of rationality. Here however, things are deadly serious, as that device is used to defend a self-described “revolutionary” who has spent most of the past 30 years in solitary confinement for murdering a policeman. Audiences who watched “The Central Park Five,” at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival know that a balanced, well-made film can be made about innocent men behind bars, but this doc throws all attempts at being balanced out the window. The result is an affront to audiences and to Mumia himself.

1  pieces of grossly unbalanced documentary toast



Upstream Color (NR)

Starring: Shane Carruth, Amy Seimetz, Andrew Senseng, Thiego Martins

Directed By: Shane Carruth

One of the downsides of the “auteur” school of filmmaking, is the potential for self-indulgence. Shane Carruth wrote, directed, produced, edited, and created the music for Upsteam, and it is decidedly his personal vision of how the film should be made.  But…the movie is completely unintelligible. It involves (I think) a couple who were captured and operated upon by mad scientists who utilize pigs and psychotropic, glow-in-the-dark worms as part of the experiment. Are they harvesting organs? Messing with people’s memories? Messing with the audience’s minds? Whatever the plot, it’s sure to leave people shaking their heads in disbelief and perhaps even demanding their money back. (Shane Carruth envisions a different scenario, where people flock to see the film over and over again to unlock its mysteries).

1 piece of beautiful but confused, self-indulgent toast


Safe Haven (PG-13)

Starring: Josh Duhamel, Jlianne Hough, David Lyons, Cobie Smulders

Directed By:  Lasse Halstrom

“Take a lot of [beach] pictures…you’ll only regret the ones you didn’t take.” is the advice a southerner gives to a recently arrived Yankee. The beach is in sleepy Southport, South Carolina, a fictional froth dreamed up by midwestern novelist Nicholas Sparks. As anyone who has seen the previous films based on Sparks’ books knows, the characters have secret pasts that influence their romantic present, in a  winning formula sure to fill theaters with people who love this sort of thing. Swedish director Hallstrom tries hard to add a bit of “edginess” to the formula, but the with a Valentines’ Day release date, the suits would only let things evolve from a snail-mail greeting card moment to an animated e-card one.

2 and 1/2  pieces of Nicholas Sparks romanticism 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 as a Halloween flick with all the lights out.

2 pieces of say BOO! toast