Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

Films Opening 10/04/13

 

Gravity (PG-13)

Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris

Directed by: Alfonso Cuaron

We all know that in the silence of space, no one can hear your screams, and that silence is used to great effect in this gripping tale of survival. The setting is the Hubble space telescope where a pair of space-walking astronauts are suddenly floating free after debris destroys their shuttle. The stars (including the unseen Ed Harris, still at mission control where he was in Apollo 13), are astounding. The special effects more so, and if the number of accidents seems to become too big a coincidence, the enormity of being alone in space makes up for it.

3 and 1/2 pieces of  astoundingly powerful toast 

Pulling Strings (PG)

Starring: Jamie Camil, Stockard Channing, Laura Ramsey, Omar Chaparro

Directed by: Pedro Pablo Ibarra

The “strings” being pulled are those found on traditional Mexican Mariachi string instruments (trumpets and accordions are modern additions). They are also those found on the “red tape” cluttering the process for obtaining a US visa. When a US Embassy worker scheduled to transfer to England passes out after a Tequila-fueled going away party, she awakes to find she has been rescued by a Mariachi musician single father—who just happens to have a daughter denied a US visa the day before.

3 pieces of Mexico can be sunny and bright with happy endings toast 

Populaire (PG)

Starring: Deborah Francois, Roman Duris, Berenice Bejo, Miou-Miou

Directed by: Regis Roinsard

Imagine Amelie crossed with Mad Men and you immediately get the idea of this French, mid-century-modern piece of fluff. The story involves a speed-typing contest (yes, they really used to have things like that), and the country girl who comes to the big city to be hired and trained and groomed to be a winner by a chain-smoking boss.

3 pieces of gussied up with typewriter ribbons toast 

Parkland (PG-13)

Starring: Paul Giamatti, Colin Hanks, Zac Effron, Bily Bob Thornton, MArcia Gay Harden, Jackie Earl Haley

Directed by: Peter Landsman

There is a decided generational and cultural gap whenever someone asks the question, “What were you doing when Kennedy was shot?”  A great majority of the movie-going public wasn’t even born back then, yet the events of that day are so firmly a part of the American experience, the filmmakers who created this re-creation of the fateful days when both JFK and his assassin were murdered, assume audiences know what happened.  Wisely told from the points of view of the “little people” selected by chance to become involved, we watch a tourist film a parade with his super-8 movie camera, a surgeon summoned to the operating room, a nurse turning chaos into standard operating procedure, relatives of the shooter suddenly thrust under best online casino the public microscope, and thousands of citizens in shock and disbelief.

3 pieces of wisely avoids conspiracy theories toast 

Haute Cuisine (R)

Starring: Catherine Frot, Jean d’Omesson, Arthur Dupont

Directed by: Christian Vincent

The strange but true tale of the President of France’s first female chef begins at a remote Antarctic research base. Portions of the “why” she is cooking at the bottom of the world are explained in puff-pastry and hollandaise flashbacks—light, but bot very filling

2 and 1/2 pieces of true French chef toast 

Metallica Through the Never (R)

Starring: Metallica (James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo)

Directed By: Nimrod Antal

This documentary is essentially a 3-D version of a concert album featuring Metallica’s greatest hits. It is encapsulated as the (perhaps) drug-induced fever-dream of a roadie assigned with the task of retriving the McGuffin (in this case, a satchel in a missing van). It’s all just an excuse for the back-beat fueled pyrotechnical grandiosity that is Metallica. See it on the biggest screen  possible, with a sound system turned up to “11.”

3 and 1/2  pieces of heavy metal toast

Runner Runner (R)

Starring: Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, Gemma Arterton

Directed by: Brad Furman

Princeton University is threatening to expel a student unless he shuts down his online gambling site. Problem is, this is sort of like Harvard asking a guy named Zuckerberg to shut down his website—the payoff is too great not to just leave those ivy-covered walls. This lack of dynamic tension is just one failure in this melodramatic morality tale involving a mob boss with a Russian first name and a sexy female assistant. Powers that be want this film to be the argument for why online gambling should be legalized, regulated and taxed, but since the FBI kidnaps people in this film, it’s hard to tell exactly why this would be a good thing.

1 piece of oddly old-fashioned with a bit of arcane accounting moves at the end toast 

NEW DVD RELEASES

This Is the End  (R)

Starring: Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Emma Watson

Directed By: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen

The Canadian childhood buddies who created Superbad, have invited their actor friends to participate in an end-of-the-world pastiche where they stole scenes from dozens of familiar zombie, apocalypse and Halloween movies. A star-studded party at James Franco’s house is interrupted by what the guests think is an earthquake. In reality, it is The Rapture prophesied in the New Testament where Christian believers are transported to Heaven and non-believers tumble into the literal pits of Hell. None of the party goers are Heaven-bound, but many tumble downward until only five guys are left in Franco’s earthquake-proof abode. Lots of great stuff here, but the directors let some shticks go on too long. This would be a great rental in a few months where you could sit back with a group of friends and the relaxant of your choice, fast-forward the bits you don’t like, and freeze-frame and replay the parts that are really, really funny.

3  pieces of funny, but needs editing toast

 

The Croods (PG)

Featuring the voices of: Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Katherine Keener, Emma Stone, Cloris Leachman

Directed By:  Christopher Sanders, Kirk DeMicco

Apparently the feisty teenage heroine of today, had a prehistoric ancestor named Eep. Her family is headed by a terrified father who repeatedly intones “Never, not be afraid,” and shivers alongside his family members in the relative safety of their cave. But Eep likes to venture outdoors where she meets a hunky young male who has “discovered” fire, and pointedly shares the danger of living in a cave when it’s earthquake season. On cue, Eep’s home collapses and the fur-clad group heads out on a road-trip of sorts, where they repeatedly (as in over-and-over), encounter never-before-seen creatures and landscapes.

2 pieces of might keep the younger set amused toast