Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases for 6/14/13
Before Midnight (R)
Starring: Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Seamus-Davey Fitzpatrick
Directed By: Richard Linklater
The couple who first met in Vienna and reunited in Paris years later, are now married with children and wistful about their past. He is a novelist, she an environmentalist, and they are guests at a friend’s gorgeous Greek villa. The setting prompts some introspection—did they ever really love each other that much? Do they still? Can they ever rekindle that fire? Should they? For an audience who has grown up with these people, the choices made and the answers given are important—not just for the fictional couple, but for the audience’s romantic soul.
4 pieces of deftly created toast
Man of Steel (PG-13)
Starring: Henry Cavil, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe
Directed By: Zack Snyder
As a kid, when I heard “Look, up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman,” I’d run to the TV set and know I was going to have a good time. Sadly, this latest version is a downer, and the so-called Man of Steel, seems to care little about “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” Instead we have a petulant, globalized (i.e. less American and easier to market abroad) fellow whose secret identity is only sort-of secret (Lois Lane knows!). In the end, it’s pretty boring and generic.
1 and 1/2 pieces of more like pewter toast
This Is the End (R)
Starring: Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Emma Watson
Directed By: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
The Canadian childhood buddies who created Superbad, have invited their actor friends to participate in an end-of-the-world pastiche where they stole scenes from dozens of familiar zombie, apocalypse and Halloween movies. A star-studded party at James Franco’s house is interrupted by what the guests think is an earthquake. In reality, it is The Rapture prophesied in the New Testament where Christian believers are transported to Heaven and non-believers tumble into the literal pits of Hell. None of the party goers are Heaven-bound, but many tumble downward until only five guys are left in Franco’s earthquake-proof abode. Lots of great stuff here, but the directors let some shticks go on too long. This would be a great rental in a few months where you could sit back with a group of friends and the relaxant of your choice, fast-forward the bits you don’t like, and freeze-frame and replay the parts that are really, really funny.
3 pieces of funny, but needs editing toast
The East (PG-13)
Starring: Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgard, EllenPage, Patricia Clarkson, Julia Ormond
Directed By: Zal Batmanglij
In the classic undercover spy films, the man usually beds a particularly attractive woman as part of his “cover.” In this film, a woman infiltrates a violent anarchistic group who believes two wrongs DO make things right, and falls for the messianic leader. Things get complicated pretty fast, motivations include old grudges, morality is fluid, and the rag-tag bunch of hippies in the crumbling mansion turn out to be more complex than we first assume.
3 pieces of asks some timely questions toast
NEW DVD RELEASES
Oz, the Great and Powerful (PG)
Starring: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Bruce Campbell
Directed By: Sam Raimi
The title is familiar to the gazillions of people who love the 1939 classic, The Wizard of Oz. It is the honorific the “man behind the curtain” gives to the enormous face he projects on smoke when Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion first enter Oz’s throne room. But that wizard was a grey-haired, bumbler of a fellow magically brought to life by character actor Frank Morgan. This new film is presented as a prequel revealing how the Kansas huckster, Professor Marvel, came to be in the land of Oz in the first place. For some unfathomable reason, actor James Franco was cast in the lead role, (apparently a last minute choice when Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr. declined), and the result is devastating. No matter how good Glinda and her two sisters are and how marvelous the animation may be, Franco’s not anything like a younger Frank Morgan. The action-movie direction and the how overly familiar Danny Elfman doesn’t help either.
2 pieces of a miscasting the title character dooms this film toast
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jon Bernthal, Rafi Gavron, Susan Sarandon, Barry Pepper, Benjamin Bratt
Directed By: Ric Roman Waugh
Cinema Toast fans know that I like Dwayne Johnson. He plays his characters (well, he plays the same character) with the knowledge that he realizes this stuff is over the top, but he’s going to have fun roughhousing, running, and blowing things up anyway. This “based on a true story” involves the star using his Missouri trucking company to transport drugs for a Mexican cartel. Only the guy is really just a caring father working undercover with the Feds to free his wrongly imprisoned son from jail.
2 and 1/2 pieces of lots of talking before the explosions start toast
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (PG-13)
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Peter Stormare, Famke Janssen
Directed By: Tommy Wirkola
The fairy tale siblings imprisoned by a cannibalistic witch understandably have a few “issues.” They decide to resolve their fears by hunting down and killing any witch they can find (I don’t know if even Glinda the Good would be spared). Problem is, the modern-day weaponry, historical inaccuracies, wooden acting, in-your-face 3-D— CG effects, the over use of the “F” word, and a truly terrible script combine into a messy pot-full of “double, double, toil and trouble.”
1 and 1/2 pieces artlessly re-imagined fairy tale toast
A Bullet to the Head (R)
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Jason Momoa
Directed By: Walter Hill (Wayne Kramer, etc)
The behind the scenes shuffling of directors, actors and scripts is all too obvious in this cobbled together mish-mash of action hero set pieces. The fact that the “heroes” are decidedly “older” than they were in their prime, only makes the stunt-doubles work overtime (and we in the audience can obviously see where those stunt-doubles are used). I assume this was Sly Stalone’s answer to Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand, but a tough-guy leading man should never say the line “You stay here and listen to the radio.” It just makes him sound…(fill in the blank).
1 and 1/2 pieces of Sly should have left well enough alone toast