Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 5/24/13

Blancanieves is astounding,  The Iceman is chilling

Blancanieves (PG-13)

Starring: Maribel Verdu, Macarena Garcia, Daniel Gimenez, Sofio Aria

Directed By:  Pablo Berger

The title of this film is the name of a graceful female bullfighter in 1920’s Spain. Sparked with Iberian passion, flamenco dancing, and murderous insanity, the story is a retelling of the Grimm Brothers classic Snow White. Filmed in black and white, without sound, the movie provides monochromatic artistry in every carefully presented scene. Different. Fresh. Worth seeing.

4  pieces of must-see toast 


The Iceman (R)

Starring: Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta

Directed By:  Ariel Vroman

We’ve watched dozens of mob hit-men portrayed onscreen, but none of them are quite like the fellow we see here. This assassin is a slow to act, bland-faced, New Jersey family man, who tells his wife he dubs cartoons when he really duplicates porn videos for the mob. When his bosses offer him some money to “whack” a guy, his only problem is how to avoid being blamed. Michael Shannon’s portrayal of the “Iceman” as an ordinary guy, makes him even more terrifying than the obviously insane Hannibal Lector.

3 and 1/2  pieces of hit-man as ordinary family man toast


The Hangover Part 3  (R)

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifanakis, Ed Helms, Ken Jeong, Heather Graham

Directed By: Todd Phillips

There comes a time in young men’s lives when they really need to grow up. The guys in the Hangover trilogy still don’t know that, but the people in the audience do. “Grow up already!” they want to scream at the screen, but the guys don’t hear them , and they keep plodding through tasteless jokes, sophomoric set ups, and stereotyped characterizations involving delivering their wigged-out buddy to an Arizona rehab while doing favors for one mob boss while avoiding torture from another. Meh!

1 and 1/2 pieces of needs s full bottle of aspirin toast 


At Any Price (R)

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Zac Efron, Kim Dickens, Heather Graham

Directed By: Rahmin Bahrami

The title says it all. A midwestern farmer who seems to be all smiles and handshakes, is driven by inner demons to cover his state with genetically modified crops, and thereby bankrupt anyone who struggles to compete. His wife and family stay clear most of the time, except for Dean, the son who races cars because he doesn’t want to be like his dad. The performances are first rate, but the story becomes overly complicated and the audience wants to be as far away from this farmer as his family does.

2 pieces of complicated story overwhelms good acting toast


Epic (PG)

Starring the voices of: Beyonce Knowles, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried, Christoph Waltz

Directed By:  Chris Wedge

Imagine cramming every animated fairy tale about bugs, ants, secret gardens, fairies, and magical forests into one movie, and you’ve got the idea. This cafeteria approach to filmmaking means some of what’s served-up is good, some is overcooked, and some is insipid. The artistry is often beautiful, but the film is quite forgettable.

2  pieces of completely forgettable animated toast


Fast and Furious 6 (R)

Starring: Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta

Directed By:  Justin Lin

“If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen-em-all” should be the tagline of this latest entry into the lucrative F&F franchise. Same faces, same shiny cars, same crashes and explosions, same bikini-clad or tight jeans-wearing girls in the crowd scenes, same break the rules ethos, same kaching! at the box office, and same fun for the fans in the audience.

2 and 1/2  pieces of testosterone-laced popcorn fare toast



Beautiful Creatures (PG-13)

Starring: Alden Ehrreneuch, Alice Englert, Emmy Rossum, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons

Directed By:  Richard LaGravenese

In contrast to the South Carolina of Nicholas Sparks’-based Safe Haven, the South Carolina in Beautiful Creatures is decidedly “Goth.” There’s a Hellfire and damnation fundamentalist, a reclusive wealthy uncle, a love-smacked teen and a tattooed, raven-haired “new girl,” who is a witch in disguise. It all works because of some scene stealing by the British actors dabbling in pseudo-Southern drawls, and some real sparks between the two teen stars. Only quibble is the attempt to rename the witchcraft terms (“we prefer the term ‘casters’”). Audiences spent 10 years learning the appropriate words from Hogwarts School, so why create a whole new vocabulary?

3 pieces of secret teen witch romance toast


Side Effects (R)

Starring: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Catherine Zeta Jones

Directed By:  Stephen Soderbergh

There are several important “issues” at the core of this tale of a wife’s treatment for suicidal depression with an untested prescription drug. The director has carefully crafted the film so the audience will see conspiracies galore, including Big Pharma, avaricious physicians, manipulative patients, publicity hungry attorneys, and mood-creating advertising gurus. Added to this is the complexity wrought by the just released from prison husband, “framed” for an insider stock-trading deal.  A bloody murder occurs. The wife is supposed to have committed the crime while taking the untested psychotic drug, and the third act tries to tie up all of the what-ifs in this whodunnit.

3 pieces of creepy sophistication toast 


Parker (R)

Starring: Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chilkis, Nick Nolte

Directed by: Taylor Hackford

The anti-hero at the center of this action film has a well developed personal code of ethics—he only steals from the very rich, he only hurts people who don’t follow his instructions, and he will take revenge on anyone who “does him wrong.” That includes the double-crossing thieves who leave leave him for dead and take his share of the heist. The star keeps his patented cut stone facial expression throughout, says his lines through gritted teeth, and manages to make the audience like him all at the same time.

3 pieces of anti-hero action flick 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 


Stand Up Guys (PG-13)

Starring: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, Julianna Margulies

Directed By:  Fisher Stevens

The idea of reuniting three aging, former criminals who reminisce about the good old days, joke about how things aren’t like they used to be, and decide to resurrect their old “skills” for a final adventure isn’t new. The first part of this film with just two old cronies (Pacino and Walken) limps along. But when they break their former getaway driver (Arkin) out of his retirement home, the adrenalin begins to flow, the banter has a much-needed straight man, and the movie becomes a mild delight.

2 and 1/2 pieces of three excellent actors together at last toast