Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

Films Opening 10/18/13

The Fifth Estate peeks behind Assange’s curtain, Carrie remake is unnecessary

The Fifth Estate (PG-13)

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Bruhl, David Thewlis, Alicia Viklander, Laura Linney

Directed by: Bill Condon

It is challenging to make a movie about larger-than-life characters whose fates are still on the front pages. This is doubly so about the enigmatic WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. Is he an altruistic whistle-blower, megalomaniac anarchist, paranoid scoflaw, predatory rapist—or all of the above? Unfortunately, the filmmakers try to present Assange as a chameleon who changes depending upon the eye of the beholder. It would have been better if they just picked a particular point-of-view.

2 and 1/2 pieces of  just a peak at the man behind the curtain toast 

 

Escape Plan (PG)

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Amy Ryan, 50Cent, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jim Caviezel

Directed by: Mikael Hafstrom

The action stars who began their film careers in soft-core porn and body-building  documentaries are getting long-in-the-tooth for roles involving lots of physicality, so they “use their brains” instead. Sly plays a McGiver-inspired escape artist who “tests” escape-proof prisons by escaping them. Arnold is the German-speaking inmate in a super-high security “secret” prison that houses “secret” prisoners. Trapped inside these unbreakable glass walls, the aging dynamic duo combine forces to escape or “die trying.” The result is much more entertaining than the recent Expendables, films, and projects a time when these two start getting cast as the intelligent men they really are in real life.

2 and 1/2 pieces of entertaining old guys toast 

 

The Summit (R)

Starring: Nially Foley, Lochlainn O’Mearain, Garrett Philips, Christine Barnes

Directed by: Nick Ryan

I admit that struggling (and perhaps dying) to reach a mountain top has never made much sense to me. The Summit supposedly documents the ill-fated 2008 K-2 trek where 11 of the 25-member team of international climbers died (or just disappeared). The filmmakers have combined actual video footage and survivor interviews with re-enactments using actors. The result is a lot of finger-pointing, Monday-morning quarterbacking, and avalanche-sized dollops of guilt.

2 pieces of  “because it is there…” toast 

 

Carrie (R)

Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Jullianne Moore, Judy Greer

Directed by: Kimberley Pierce

Add Carrie to the list of remakes that shouldn’t have been done. Brian DePalma’s 1976 film version of the Stephen King story established a brand new genre—the “don’t mess with me” teen with telekinetic powers. This version purports to be more “grounded in the original story” but if that is so, why not cast the lead with a “short, chunky girl with pimples on her neck, back and buttocks” as King described her. Instead, we have the Hollywood pretty  girl from those Kick Ass movies. With cheap special effects, and a lame ending, Julianne’ Moore’s portrayal of Carrie’s mother as a tragic figure is the only thing worth watching.

1 and 1/2 pieces of why didn’t they just re-release the original? toast

 

NEW DVD RELEASES

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

 

The Heat (R)

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy,Tony Hale, Bill Burr

Directed By: Paul Feig

The set up is an FBI agent unwillingly partnered with a break-the-rules cop. The twist is that they are female. The problem is there is no plot—merely a series of improv-like scenes strung together to make a disposable, pop-bead necklace of a movie. Too bad. As Gravity proves, these gals are really talented.

1 and 1/2 pieces of terrible script toast