Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases for 5/31/13
Frances Ha (R)
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Patrick Heusinger, Adam Driver, Michael Zegan
Directed By: Noah Baumbach
What happens when a 20-something who has been raised all her life winning awards and accolades for her outstanding work and performances in ball games, dance recitals, and Mother’s Day card-making, suddenly realizes she’s aging up? If she’s Frances Ha, she remains cocksure, ambitious and very competitive in her quest to become a famous dancer, while realizing she may finally need to get a day job to cover her expenses. In the end, this is a New York indie about a distinctive young woman who keeps her joie-de-vivre despite the clock ticking. Filmed in B&W, it feels like those exuberant 60‘s New Wave films from France—but in a good way.
3 pieces of Greta Gerwig toast
After Earth (PG-13)
Starring: Jaden Smith, Will Smith, Zoe Kravitz, Sophie Okonedo
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
The film title should be “Daddy’s Going to Try to Make His Son a Star.” The sci-fi set-up involves a father-son team sent back to Earth 1,000 years after humankind abandoned it’s birth planet. There’s a crash landing, and as daddy slowly dies, he provides a running video commentary to his son about “facing fear” and other psycho-babble. Trouble is, the lad must fight against hostile CG beasts, hostile CG climate shifts, hostile direction from M. Night Shyamalan, a hostile script, and hostile pans from the critics.
1 piece of don’t bother seeing this one toast
Now You See Me (PG-13)
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Michael Caine
Directed By: Louis Leterrier
The slew of magician movies a couple years ago proved how difficult it is to keep the audience’s attention and not reveal too much about how the “magic” works. Ditto for heist movies, where it takes more than clever names for the crooks to hold an audience. Despite a half dozen well known cast members trying to elevate this film to something better than it really is, this magician-studded heist film is decidedly un-magical. You know the filmmakers are aware of the movie’s shortcomings because they have Morgan Freeman as the man who painstakingly explains what is going on. It’s not enough.
1 and 1/2 pieces of we see through the smoke and mirrors toast
NEW DVD RELEASES
Starring: Saskia Rosendahl, Andre Frid, Hans-Joachem Wagner
Directed By: Cate Shortland
At the close of WW2, while the Holocaust inexorably grinds to a halt around her, the German daughter of a mid-level Nazi escapes on a 500-mile trek through the Black Forest with her younger siblings. They are attempting to reach the supposed safety of their grandmother’s house after the Allied troops have captured their country and arrested their parents. The long journey reveals a variety of “truths” that will resonate with different audiences in different ways. The girl must force herself to rely on a young man she has been taught her whole life to be “subhuman” (since he’s Jewish). The horror and sheer numbers of “relocation camps” they stumble across shatters the children’s belief systems and morality. And the truth about the American troops who (the children were warned), will torture them if they are caught, offers a different level of fearsomeness.
3 pieces of coming of age in a different time and place toast
Dark Skies (PG-13)
Starring: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo, J. K. Simmons
Directed By: Scott Charles Stewart
You know the formula—a suburban family confronts increasingly sinister phenomenon until it is forced to barricade the house and fight back against evil. This time, the evil is supernatural aliens who “already live among us and take our jobs.” (Of course, even the dullest can see that the threat could just as easily be from undocumented aliens). One odd side bit is that the “paranormal expert” is played by actor J.K. Simmons who stars as the professor in the Farmers Insurance TV commercials. It makes audiences wonder if their homeowners policy covers alien invasions.
1 and 1/2 pieces of thinly disguised America-first paranoia toast