Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

Films Opening 7/12/13


 

A Hijaking (R)

Starring: Amalie Ihle Alstrup, Johan Philip Asbaek, Ole Dupont, Abdihakin Asgar, Soren Malling, Gary Skjoldmose Porter, Dar Salim

Directed By: Tobias Lindholm

We never see the pirate take-over of the Danish ship off the East Coast of Africa. Instead, the filmmakers focus on the captured, life-threatened crew and the ship’s corporate owners safely cocooned in their Copenhagen headquarters. The result is a gripping tale of life under pressure—the pressure from gun-wielding Somali pirates, and the pressure to make  the “correct” (i.e. most profitable) business decision. It’s a great story well told.

3 and 1/2 pieces of competing acts of piracy toast

 

Pacific Rim (PG)

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Charlie Day, Idris Elba, Ron Perlman

Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

Just like in Godzilla, gigantic alien beasts invade Earth through a rift in the ocean floor, Then, just like Independence Day married to Transformers, Earth’s governments respond by sending enormous mechanical fighting robots guided by mind-melded humans to attack the baddies. The battles incite popcorn-munching and soda slurping for audiences who don’t bother analyzing what is happening onscreen (for example, if the humans are mind-melded, why do they have to keep yelling commands back and forth?). The director manages to provide a lightness to this macho-heavy film which elevates it above other summer escapism. One warning—its as loud as you imagine it will be.

3  pieces of well-recycled mechanical machines vs aliens toast 

 

Unfinished Song (PG-13)

Starring: Terrence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave, Gemma Arterton, Christopher Eccleston

Directed By: Paul Andrew Williams

A long-married British couple spends their final months together (before cancer takes her away), by attending rehearsals of the local community choir. She is always sunny. He is always gloomy. The young music teacher and the couple’s estranged son provide unneeded subplots to appeal to a younger audience, but these plot devices merely show us how truly marvelous Redgrave and Stamp are onscreen.

3  pieces of  well seasoned toast 

 

I’m So Excited (R)

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz, Javier Camara, Lola Duenas

Directed By: Pedro Almodovar

Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar burst onto the international scene in 1980 with a unique slice of campy sexuality, familial violence, and vibrant colors. Compared to what audiences see today, his “shocking attitudes” seem dated and stylistically dull. His latest melodrama, I’m So Excited.  takes place on an airliner circling an airport to use up fuel before an inevitable crash-landing. The cabin crew gets drunk and drugs the economy class passengers with tranquilizers, while those in the wealthier business class call their lovers and families over the intercom phone. Throughout, the audience is subjected to sights of acrobatic sex, and the expulsion of various bodily fluids caused by stress, drugs and alcohol. In short, you can skip it.

1  piece of Almodovar’s brilliance has grown tiresome toast 

 

Storm Surfers (NR)

Starring: Ben  Matson, Ross Clark-Jones, Tom Carroll

Directed By: Christopher Nelius, Justin McMillan

On a recent KQED Forum radio show, host Michael Krasny asked author and Navy SEAL Roark Denver if he, or the other SEALS on his teams,  were fearful before a mission. Denver compared his feelings to those of a surfer who jet skis into enormous storm-created waves. Now an audience can catch a bit of that same feeling in the astounding documentary Storm Surfers 3D. My advice is to watch these Australian super dudes on the biggest 3D screen available—especially for the shots from cameras mounted on the boards and the surfer’s helmets! Gnarly!

3  pieces of wet and wild toast 

 

Grown Ups 2 (PG-13)

Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin JAmes, Salma Hayak, Chris Rock, David Spade

Directed By: Dennis Dugan

I’d like my readers to make a pact to avoid this film completely as a way to tell the studio that we’re “mad as Hell, and we’re not going to take this anymore.” A so-called sequel to the unfunny first film, this anemic enterprise doesn’t have a plot, a coherent set of characters, or a good joke in its almost unendurable 101 minutes. The supposed hijinks begin when a deer breaks into a filmmakers immense house and pees all over the guy. It goes downhill from there.

 

1/2  piece of  I left the theater half-way through toast 

 

 

NEW DVD RELEASES

The Gatekeepers (PG)

Featuring interviews with: Ami Ayalon, Avi Dichter, Yuval Diskin, Avraham Shalom, Carmi Gillon, Yakkov Peri

Directed By:  Dror Moreh

This is a classic “Talking-heads” documentary but with a decided difference. That difference is that the “heads” belong to the six former leaders of Shin Bet, the Israeli Intelligence Service. With amazing candor, these six men detail the reality of trying to contain violence in the occupied Palestinian territories while their politician bosses change directions like windmills.”We didn’t know what we wanted to do there,” says one man.  “There was no strategy to it at all,” says another, “just tactics.”  And underlying it all is the single-minded intransigence of Israel’s religious right—zealots with political power. “I understand why [the Palestinians] fight,” one former intelligence chief says in summary. “I would too…one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”

3 and 1/2 pieces of candid truthfulness toast

 

Admission (PG-13)

Starring: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Michael Sheen, Gloria Rubin, Wallace Shawn, Lily Tomlin

Directed By: Paul Weitz

The by-the-book admissions officer at Princeton has a “comfortable” life until the head of a less-than-stellar high school arrives making unprofessional overtures, and a genius-level applicant who doesn’t do well on standardized tests but still deserves a chance both begin to complicate things. The humor comes from unexpected directions in this surprisingly original film. It’s quite enjoyable.

3 pieces of it’s not just a high SAT score toast

 

Spring Breakers (R)

Starring: James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudges, Ashley Benson, Harmony Korine

Directed By: Harmony Korine

Four pretty coeds don’t have the money to take a trip to Florida for Spring Break, so they pull on ski masks and holdup a diner. A diner! Obviously the quartet are not the sharpest knives in the drawer (although they do make nice window-dressing in their bikinis). Think of this as Girls Gone Wild meets Bad Girls, only without any reason for being other than cameras repeatedly focusing on specific portions of female anatomy during a week-long bacchanal of sun, sand, booze, drugs and sex.

2 pieces of beach bimbos gone bad toast