Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
Films Opening 11/01/13
All Is Lost (PG-13)
Starring: Robert Redford
Directed by: J.C. Chandor
A movie about an aging sailor alone and adrift in the middle of the Indian Ocean is bound to be compared to The Old Man and The Sea and Gravity. But unlike Spencer Tracy’s fisherman and Sandra Bullock’s astronaut, Robert Redford’s sailor is a hobbiest—an amateur with a wooden boat stuck in a series of predicaments which would kill the most experienced of old salts. After a shipping container full of tennis shoes stoves in the side of his 35-foot sailboat, the All Is Lost title seems self-fulfilling. Instead, we watch a 77-year-old man who refuses to give up as time and time again when nature and emotions drag him down. Redford is brilliant. The photography and direction are superb, and this 105 minutes of adventure will leave you physically drained—but what a ride!
3 and 1/2 pieces of tour-de-force acting toast
Enders Game (PG-13)
Starring: Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin
Directed by: GAvin Hood
This film has a lot of similarities with other movies. Like Harry Potter a mild-mannered boy is destined by fate to battle evil and save humankind. Like Hunger Games, a small cadre of children is selected to fight and die while others sit on the sidelines, like Star Wars, there’s lots of space battles, and like Star Trek, there’s an obvious moral to every story told. Based on the popular YA novel, this film will slip easily to a school’s list of “anti-bullying” movies to watch. The story involves junior ROTC style cadets (see Red Dawn), recruited from their video game addictions (see Last Starfighter), to destroy giant ant-like alien invaders (see Starship Troopers). It is also the first in a proposed series of films with the same characters.
2 and 1/2 pieces of looks pretty familiar toast
Last Vegas (R)
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline
Directed by: John Turtletaub
Billed as a “Grumpy Old Men with a Hangover,” this film assembles a cast of familiar actors of a certain age, sends them to Vegas for a wedding/reunion, and lets the former “Flatbush Four” do what people do in Vegas—only a little more slowly. The script could use some Geritol, but the actors know how deliver even the weakest of material.
3 pieces of could have been cranked up a notch but still fun toast
About Time (R)
Starring: Bill Nighy, Domhall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Vanessa Kirby
Directed by: Richard Curtis
Imagine having a time machine so you could go back, Groundhog Day-style and repeat experiences with the girl you love until you get things right and she falls in love with you. Now add in some really good actors, a sweet and intelligent script, on-screen chemistry between the stars, a sexxy scene or two, and you have a “little” movie that’s a winner.
3 and 1/2 pieces of repeating “meet cutes” until it’s right toast
Free Birds (PG)
Starring the voices of : Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, George Takai, Colm Meany, Keith David
Directed by: Ash Brannon, Jimmy Hayward
“Turkeys are dumb,” Owen Wilson’s voice tells the audience, and this movie is too. It’s about a flock of T-birds coming to grips with the realization that they are being fattened up for a humans-only festival called Thanksgiving. Plot twists are added like a Presidential pardon, and time-travel back to Plymouth, Massachusetts circa 1621 to get turkey off the menu. Factually of course, written records list venison, cod, rabbit and other small game as being served—but no turkey on the Pilgrims’ and Indians’ tables. This film could have had fun with that bit of historic trivia—and tweeked the brains of youngsters in the audience. Instead, the writers and animators apparently are just as vapid as real-life, factory bred birds and have made an un-funny, “turkey” of a movie.
1 and 1/2 pieces of a real animated “turkey” toast
NEW DVD RELEASES
Monsters University (G)
Starring the Voices of: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren, Steve Buscemi
Directed By: Don Scanlon
In this prequel, bug-eyed, wide-mouthed, green-skinned Mike Wazowski heads to Monster University to earn a degree from their celebrated Scare Program. He and blue-furred Sully find themselves on the outs with the dean, and so, reminiscent of Revenge of the Nerds or a G-rated Animal House, the two monsters-in-training end up in a frat filled with misfits with the only way to earn respect is to win the annual Scare Games competition.
3 pieces of more not quite up to Pixar standards toast
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