Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
Films Opening 9/06/13
Instructions Not Included (PG-13)
Starring: Eugino Derbez, Jessica Lindsey, Loreto Peralta
Directed By: Euginio Derbez
A Mexican womanizer answers his door to discover an old girfriend with a daughter she says is his. The woman leaves to pay the taxi and drops out of their life, so the confirmed bachelor instantly becomes a single dad. The new family travels north to LA in an attempt to track down the mother, but time ticks by, the dad takes work as a stunt man, and the girl grows to school age. This is all played for comic effect—a tone which shifts slightly when the mom reappears asking for her daughter back. There are some surprises in store for the audience, for this isn’t an assemply-line Hollywood farce. Instead, it’s a deftly presented Latino love story.
3 and 1/2 pieces of broad Latino humor toast
Starring: Vin Diesel, Matt Nable, Jordi Molla, Katee Sackoff, Karl Urban
Directed by: Davis Twohy
On the assumption that the hard-core fans who enjoyed 2004’s Chronicles of Riddick have aged up enough to see an R-rated flick, the filmmakers have increased the gore factor and added a nude female to keep the crowds coming. The plot is filled with holes, and the screenplay feels like it’s grabbed from a two-hour video game session featuring the same brand name. The result is a film which crosses over the line to being absurd, but will probably make enough money to spawn another sequel.
1 and 1/2 pieces of see it if you must (it’s your money) toast
The Hunt (R)
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Annika Wioderkopp, Thomas Bo Larsen, Susse Wold
Directed by: Thomas Vinterberg
Feeling like a Danish “Movie of the Week, the story involves a kindergarten teacher falsely accused of exposing himself to his best friend’s daughter. It is a witch hunt, with the young girl fed leading questions by an overly suspicious school principal, the community blindly accepting the story, and the teacher convicted by everyone’s assumptions. Of course, the audience knows the “truth” that “everything” the girl is coached to say is a lie—or is it?
3 pieces of creating something from (perhaps) nothing toast
NEW DVD RELEASES
From Up On Poppy Hill (PG)
Starring the voices of: Sarah Bolger, Gillian Anderson, Anton Yelchin, Jamie Lee Curtis
Directed By: Goro Myazaki
My sister, who lives where movies are released sooner than they are in the North Bay, told me she saw “the new Myazaki film,” and was “disappointed.” This is probablly due to the fact that this Myazaki isn’t the amazing master Japanese animator Hayao Myazaki (of Princess Mononoke fame), but instead, the son, Goro Myazaki. Eschewing Japanese mythology for a newer, anime-for-girls storyline, quaint, provincial-looking Yokohama settings contrast sharply with the modern concrete of Tokyo preparing for the upcoming 1962 Olympic Games. The Yokahoma kids attend school in a crumbling pre-war building, and their clubhouse is a wreck the school principal wants to bulldoze into oblivion. Instead, the kids use the school newspaper to rally support for the old “Latin Quarter” building. One odd thing is the suggestion that the teenl-aged boyfriend and girlfriend may secretly be brother and sister. An incest subplot is not uncommon in Japanese anime, but it could raise a few eyebrows over here.
3 pieces of beautifully animated Studio Ghibli fare, but it could have been directed/edited better toast
The Iceman (R)
Starring: Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta
Directed By: Ariel Vroman
We’ve watched dozens of mob hit-men portrayed onscreen, but none of them are quite like the fellow we see here. This assassin is a slow to act, bland-faced, New Jersey family man, who tells his wife he dubs cartoons when he really duplicates porn videos for the mob. When his bosses offer him some money to “whack” a guy, his only problem is how to avoid being blamed. Michael Shannon’s portrayal of the “Iceman” as an ordinary guy, makes him even more terrifying than the obviously insane Hannibal Lector.
3 and 1/2 pieces of hit-man as ordinary family man toast
Now You See Me (PG-13)
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Michael Caine
Directed By: Louis Leterrier
The slew of magician movies a couple years ago proved how difficult it is to keep the audience’s attention and not reveal too much about how the “magic” works. Ditto for heist movies, where it takes more than clever names for the crooks to hold an audience. Despite a half dozen well known cast members trying to elevate this film to something better than it really is, this magician-studded heist film is decidedly un-magical. You know the filmmakers are aware of the movie’s shortcomings because they have Morgan Freeman as the man who painstakingly explains what is going on. It’s not enough.
1 and 1/2 pieces of we see through the smoke and mirrors toast