Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases for 7/05/13
Despicable Me 2 (PG)
Starringthe voices of: Steve Carrell, Kristin Wiig, Russell Brand, Benjamin Bratt, Steve Coogan, Ken Jeong
Directed By: Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin
Your level of delight for this film should be in direct proportion to how much you like (or hate) those little yellow minions. The reformed evil genius Gru is back, and challenged every instant by parenting the three “leeetle goooiils” he adopted in the first film. To complicate things, Gru is recruited by the Anti Villain League to thwart the latest cadre of evildoers. We watch with delight as the cartoon villains hideouts top anything we’ve seen in a Bond film while those omnipresent minions merrily roll along.
3 and 1/2 pieces of I really like Gru toast
The Kings of Summer (R)
Starring: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Allison Brie, Erin Moriarty, Eugene Cordero, Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman
Directed By: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
This modern-day, but still nostalgic coming-of-age film manages to present the hormonally driven raunchiness and sense of infallibility of three teen boys without resulting to sophomoric humor—and that’s no small accomplishment. Instead, we have a tale of three runaways with distinct personalities who build a fort in the woods with the intent to live off the land. Needless to say, their parents and the police have a decidedly different take on all this, and the parental concerns, overreactions and terrors provide the audience with glimpses of just why the kids turned out the way they have.
3 pieces of evocative and well-made toast
Twenty Feet From Stardom (PG-13)
Starring: Darlene Love, Judith Hill, Lisa Fisher, Mary Clayton
Directed By: Morgan Neville
“And the colored girls go ‘Doo do doo, do doo do..” Lou Reeds wrote in his classic song “Take a Walk on the Wild Side,” and that sums up the recognition the vast majority of backup singers have received over the years. Now, in a fine documentary, a few finally get a chance in the spotlight. We learn that movie producers like Phil Spector saw these talented performers as interchangeable—putting in the names of backup singers he liked in the record notes even if they weren’t the ones singing. Most of the famous faces and voices interviewed for the film seem apologetic for the manner in which they treated their team members, but only Bette Midler truly appreciates them as her peers.
3 pieces of a vast twenty feet of geography toast
Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain (PG-13)
Starring: Kevin Hart
Directed By: Leslie Small
Whenever I watch standup comics in a live venue, there is always bit or two (or three or four) that I wish had been “edited out” of the set. These are the mean-spirited jokes, the sexist jokes, the agist jokes. In a movie or TV show, this editing should have taken place with the “director” doing what they are supposed to do. In this doc, one sequence in particular should have been axed, and then given a never-to-be-exhumed-burial-at-sea. It involves a confrontation Kevin Hart has with a fan at an airport. Too bad the theaters don’t privide a fast-forward remote.
2 and 1/2 pieces of badly edited standup comedy toast
The Lone Ranger (PG-13)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Arnie Hammer, William Fitchner, Tom Wilkonson, Helena Bonham Carter
Directed By: Gore Verbinski
A couple years ago, when this production started coming together, Johnny Depp loudly proclaimed that he was “part Cherokee” and was going to “right the wrongs” of Hollywood’s portrayals of Native Americans. A couple weeks ago stories appeared about Depp’s DNA blood test showing nary a single drip of Native American heritage. Now the film reveals that Depp’s interpretation of Tonto is to play him as a mentally-addled shaman with a stuffed crow affixed to his head who he repeatedly offers birdseed. But my beef is with the portrayal of both the masked man and his trusted friend. The original radio show and long-running TV series was built upon a solid moral foundation expressed in the Lone Ranger’s Creed. It reads, in part:
- In my Creator, my country, my fellow man
- That to have a friend, a man must be one.
- That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
- That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
Nowhere does it say “scuttle everything—including common sense—to make lots of money at the box office.”
1 and 1/2 pieces of confused story telling toast
NEW DVD RELEASES
56 Up (NR)
Directed By: Michael Apted
What began as a British TV documentary featuring interviews with 7-year-olds from different socioeconomic levels, has, through updates every seven years, provided a riveting validation that “the child is father of the man [and woman].” In this latest installment, those kids are now 56, and we get brief revisits into how they have fared over the mast decades. Tony wanted to be a jockey when he was little, but ended up driving a taxi instead. Sue had dreams of living “a full life” before marriage, but real life intruded , and she was divorced by the time of 35 Up. Neil, who spent years homeless and depressed, has found his calling as a lay-minister and elected official. For many, the most interesting part of this latest film may be the tables-are-turned involvement of the filmmaker himself, who takes time to share the criticisms from some of his “kids,” and the pundits who took him to task for reinforcing class differences and making a reputation at the expense of his subjects.
3 and 1/2 pieces of “let’s see what they are up to now” toast
The House I Live In (PG-13)
Starring: Michelle Alexander, Shaniqua Benitez, Mark Bennett, Mike Carpenter, Larry Cleary, Eric Franklin
Directed By: Eugene Jarecki
This winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at Sundance, uncovers the total failure of the so-called “War on Drugs.” Launched with great fanfare by President Nixon, the decades of politically motivated but misguided criminalization and incarceration of low-level users has resulted in overcrowded prisons, broken families, militarization of police forces, immigration inequities, oodles of money being made by international criminals, and fortunes and careers being made by “acting tough” on this volatile issue. We in the North Bay see the inconsistencies and blatant abuses of power on a daily basis by local, regional, state and national law enforcement and criminal justice systems when weed that is “licensed and legal” in one jurisdiction brings jail time and forfeiture of property in the city or county next door. The film’s strength is augmented by the realistic call for action to change the diatribes to rational discourse and create action plans for reasonable, and lasting changes.
3 and 1/2 pieces sifting through the paranoid propaganda toast