Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

Films Opening 7/26/13

Fame High (NR)

Directed By: Scott Hamilton Kennedy

Four talented young people at the Los Angeles County High School for the Performing Arts prove that reality can trump the scripted events of movies and TV shows like Fame or Glee anytime. Oscar nominated documentary film-maker Scott Hamilton Kennedy spoent 16 months capturing the challenges and triumphs of youngsters driven to overcome numerous obstacles to make their dreams come true-and wow the audience with their talent and honesty in the process.

3 and 1/2  pieces of talented toast 



MEET Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Scott Hamilton Kennedy

Following the 5 pm showing of Fame High at Sebastopol’s Rialto Cinemas Saturday, Jul7 27th.

Following the 6:30 pm showing of Kennedy’s Oscar-nominated film The Garden at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts  Saturday, July 27th.

LEARN the documentary film process in a 3-hour Master Class taught by Scott Hamilton Kennedy. (Advance tickets required)

Sunday, July 28  10am to 1pm at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts (707) 829-4797


To Do List (R)

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Alia Shawkat, Sarah Steele

Directed By: Maggie Carey

“I’m a method actress,” Aubrey Plaza explains for why she didn’t use a body double in the topless scenes. The latest entry into the “lose my virginity” summer comedy genre is told from the female perspective. This particular girl is obsessed with making lists—including a list of ten things to do the 1993 summer she started lifeguarding at her local Boise, Idaho pool. The list includes all the usual things needed for a raunchy teen sex comedy—including actors way too old to be in high school—but what do you expect—it’s R-rated.

3 pieces of raunchy, post-Bridesmaids, females like sex too toast 


The Wolverine (PG-13)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Will Yun Lee, Hiroyuki Saneda, Tao Okamoto, Famke Janssen

Directed By: James Mangold

With a new back story (Wolverine was a POW in WWII at a camp in Nagasaki freed by a guard just before the A-bomb-blast), the immortal superhero with adamantine blades in his fingers becomes a Ronin in modern-day Japan. Lured by wafer-thin women and chased by hapless Yakuza martial arts experts, Wolverine must grapple with losing his superpowers and becoming mortal again. Introspective and intriguing for the first two-thirds of the movie, unfortunately, the last reel presents serial fight sequences in we’ve-seen-better-before fashion

2 and 1/2 pieces of we don’t need the repetitive fights at the end toast


Fruitvale Station (R)

Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Ariana Neal, Octavia Spencer

Directed By: Ryan Coogler

Grainy cellphone footage of the killing of Oscar Grant by a transit cop opens the film, and the rest is a flashback of the 24 hours before the fatal encounter. The interactions Oscar has with his girlfriend, daughter and mother ring true, but the scene where he tends to a dying dog seems contrived. Overall, the film manages to remain even-handed—showing a flawed but still humane young man lassoed into a tragic rendezvous with death.

3 and 1/2  pieces of life and death toast 


R.I.P.D. (R)

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon, Mary Louise-Parker, Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Foster

Directed By: Robert Schwentke

In a rip-off of Men In Black, dead lawmen are sent by their boss on missions to round up monster-people and prevent them from turning Earth into their sandbox. Lacking any originality, this film seems constructed from lego bricks that are scenes from much better films. One amusing bit—the dead soft drink Fresca is available in the afterlife.

1 and 1/2 pieces of wasted time and talent toast


One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das (NR)

Directed By: Jeremy Findel

Krishna Das introduces us to kirtan—the call and response singing style which uses Sanskrit names for God as its text. His journey began when the Long Island-born wannabee rock star met Ram Das, journeyed to India, and studied with the guru Maharajji. Krishna Das promised his teacher “I will sing for you in America,” but this promise went on hold for awhile after Maharajji died, and Krishna Das turned to drugs. The singer’s life course takes a few more detours until we see him leading blissful audiences in various churches, concert venues and yoga centers today. Carefully staying out of the dusty corners of Krishna Das’ life journey, this documentary is decidedly up-beat.

2 and 1/2  pieces of spiritual singing toast 





The Place Beyond the Pines (R)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper, Ray LiottaRose Byrne, Bruce Greenwood, Ben Mendelson

Directed By: Derek Cienfrance

Well-acted, but still overly melodramatic with an unbelievable string of coincidences to hold things together, this tells the tale of a motorcycle stunt-driver who begins to rob banks when he discovers he has an infant son who needs  his financial support. The filmmakers have unwisely crammed in a couple other stories involving political and police corruption, and sons trying to impress their daddies, then spiced it up with motorcycle stunts speeded up to look more dangerous.

2 pieces of you need to suspend your disbelief big time for this one toast


Trance (R)

Starring: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassell

Directed By:  Danny Boyle

When an auctioneer gets hit on the head during an art heist, he loses any  memory of where he put a $25 million painting. The gang tries threats and torture to overcome the amnesia, and when that fails, a hypnotist is recruited to help jog the little grey cells. For some unfathomable reason, actor James MacAvoy doesn’t react to these contradictory techniques with any obvious difference. This is the film’s fatal flaw, resulting in a movie about a guy we really don’t connect with—no matter how clever the script or camera-work.

2  pieces of lacks empathy toast.