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Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

Films Opening 7/19/13

The Way Way Back (PG-13)

Starring: Toni Collette, Steve Carrell, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Sam Rockwell, Liam James

Directed By: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash

Even though we’ve never been to this Massachusetts vacation town, the setting and characters seem comfortably familiar in this coming-of-age comedy. Befuddled by his single mom’s infatuation with a new boyfriend and their alcohol-fueled partying, the boy learns from another teen that, “It’s like Spring Break for adults.” But the amusing goings-on are still PG-13 rated. as most of the laughs come from the excellent timing of the ensemble cast and the wry observations of human behaviors. It’s worth a visit.

3 and 1/2 pieces of comfortable comedy toast

 

RED 2 (PG-13)

Starring: Bruce Willis Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mary Louise Parker

Directed By: Dean Parisot

The tag line for the original RED movie was “codgers make the coolest killers,” and we saw some great older actors add thier skills to a Bruce Willis action-flick. This time, the tag line could be “codger killings are fun,” except they really aren’t. Lets take the scene where assassin and love interest Helen Mirren disposes of a body in a bathtub by pouring acid over him. The laughs supposedly come from the bickering phone conversation she is having while multi-tasking. For me, the gruesomeness of the set piece overwhelmed any humor. Everything is over-the top, and as Mirren says in TV interviews, “One 360-degree automobile spin-out was good, so we have three 360-spin-outs this time.” More is not necessarily better.

2  pieces of trying to hard to make distasteful murders funny toast 

 

The Conjuring (R)

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor

Directed By: James Wan

Apparently no one in this movie has ever seen a demonic possession haunted-house/slasher movie or is smart enough to trust the family dog’s animal instincts.

Gil does not screen slasher films

 

Only God Forgives (R)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kristen Scott Thomas, Yayaying

Directed By: Nicolas Winding Refn

Gosling and Scott-Thomas seem to be slumming in this low-budget, corner cutting film about a drug dealer and wannabe Thai boxer who is urged by his Oedipal-complex-style mother to murder the Bangkok gangsters who killed her other son. Lots of weirdness. Lots of bloody violence. Lots of opportunities to go to the snack bar or restroom during the often plodding goings-on.

1 and 1/2  pieces of dark and dirty toast 

 

Turbo (PG)

Starring the voices of: Paul Giamatti, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Pena, Luis Guzman, Michelle Rodriguez, Ryan Reynolds

Directed By: David Soren

Think of this as Ratatouille with snails. Instead of wanting to be a chef, this particular animated character (a snail), wants to be a racer. When a freak accident turns our hero into a lightning-fast mollusk, the hijinks begin— and slowly edge forward at the speed of—well, at a snail’s pace.

1 and 1/2  pieces of the one joke is played too often toast 

 

Girl Most Likely (PG-13)

Starring: Annette Benning, Kristen Wiig, Darren Criss, Matt Dillon

Directed By: Robert Pulcini, Sherri Springer Berman

Any rom-com that stoops to having its main character fake a suicide to keep her boyfriend, is a loser in my book. The fact that this one is filled with limp, Manhattan-insider reference jokes like “she’s from New Jersey,” as though that explains the character’s complete lack of sense or sensibility only compounds things. The two directors seem at odds,—with one trying to make a farce and the other a Bridesmaids style comedy. The result is disjointed at its best and off-putting at its worst.

1  piece of  far from being a winner toast 

 

NEW DVD RELEASES

42 (PG-13)

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Alan Tudyk, Christopher Meloni, Hamish Linklater, Lucas Black

Directed By:  Brian Helgeland

There are probably a couple of younger generations unaware of the significance of a baseball jersey with the number “42” on its back, but this film should help close that cultural void. For that was the number a New York Dodgers rookie named Jackie Robinson began wearing a couple years after WWII. The first African-American in major league baseball quickly proved his worth. His 12 home runs that first season helped the Dodgers win the National League pennant,  and the Rookie of the Year award for Robinson. The film depicts racism and it’s atavistic anger front and center—the individuals, teams, cities, and entire states which refused to  allow a “colored man” to play with or against them was legion, and several of the roles, most notably Chadwick Boseman as Robinson, Harrison Ford as Dodgers manager Branch Rickey, and Lucas Black as the team’s shortstop Pee Wee Reese, are truly memorable.

3 pieces of that’s the way it was 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

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