Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

Films Opening 11/08/13

Thor: The Dark World (PG-13)

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christopher Eccleston, Anthony Hopkins, Rene Russo, Stellen Skarsgard

Directed by: Alan Taylor

The director who replaces Kenneth Branaugh has slavishly kept the tongue-in-cheek tone and feeling of the first Thor movie, but the result is a copy-cat sequel. The original stars play the same characters, and again it is the interactions between the blonde-tressed, muscle-bound Thor, his half-brother Loki, and his mortal girlfriend Dr. Jane Foster that sparkle. Unfortunately, the script sends the last third of the film into a string of Norse battles crammed with formulaic CG earthquakes and lightening.

2 and 1/2 pieces of copy-cat toast 

 

Blue Is the Warmest Color (NC-17)

Starring: Adele Exarchopoulous, Lea Sydoux, Jeremie Leheurte, Sandor Funtek

Directed by: Abdel Kechiche

This explicit French film about a 17-year-old student’s lesbian love affair with an artist 10 years older won the Palme de’Or at Cannes for the film and both of the stars. But most of the buzz comes from the carefully orchestrated series of interviews where one of the stars complained that the director made her “feel like a prostitute” during the five days she spent naked with her limbs entwined with her co-star. Onscreen, that scene of lesbian lovemaking last almost 10 minutes, and earned the film its NC-17 rating. Problem is, the movie is 177 minutes long, and every scene (even the sexy ones) should have been cut for length. Over and over again, the camera focuses on an actress’ face (or other body parts)  far too long. Over and over again, we watch exposition scenes labor on and on long after they have established a particular point. The whole film suffers from this excess. My advice is to wait for the DVD and fast forward the redundancies.

2 and 1/2 pieces of  needs to be at least a half hour shorter toast 

 

Diana  (PG-13)

Starring: Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline

Directed by: John Turtletaub

A combination of the filmmakers being too respectful, and dialogue written in a stilted, artificial style makes this biopic about Princess Diana’s last two years of life fall flat. The actors look right, and try hard, but it isn’t enough. Starting with that late-night dash through the streets of Paris, and then flashing back to a recently divorced Diana heating up canned beans for supper in Kensington Palace. We follow her well-documented affair with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Kahn and end with her ill-fated attempt to make Kahn jealous by dating the playboy son of the owner of Harrods department store. It could have been interesting, but except for Diana’s clothes, it’s just plain dull.

1 piece of dull biopic toast

 

NEW DVD RELEASES

Renoir (R)

Starring: Michael Bouquet, Christa Theret, Vincent Rottiers, Thomas Doret

Directed By: Gilles Bordos

“Flesh is all that matters” a 71-year-old August Renoir says several times in this film, and that pretty much sums up the celebrated French artist’s life. His current inspiration is a beauty named Andree who doesn’t mind posing nude for a painter so crippled by arthritis that the brushes need to be tied to his hand. But things become complicated when the war-wounded 21-year-old son, Jean Renoir arrives home for recuperation.

3 and 1/2 pieces of French artistry toast 

 

Parkland (PG-13)

Starring: Paul Giamatti, Colin Hanks, Zac Effron, Bily Bob Thornton, Mrcia 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 the public microscope, and thousands of citizens in shock and disbelief.

3 pieces of wisely avoids conspiracy theories toast

 

Lovelace (R)

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Saarsgaard, Sharon Stone

Directed By: Jeffrey Friedman, Robb Epstein

This morality tale about the making of Deep Throat, America’s most famous X-rated movie and the star of the film’s instant notoriety and subsequent disenchantment with everything (including her paltry acting fee) has been explored before.  For some reason, the Oscar winning documentarians who took on this project  decided a dramatic presentation would be the way to go. The schizophrenic result presents the creation of the ludicrous original movie in an almost slapstick fashion, while the follow up expose is a jarringly ugly tale of spousal abuse and venality.

2 pieces of love’s got nothin’ to do with it toast 

 

Girl Most Likely (PG-13)

Starring: Annette Benning, Kristen Wiig, Darren Criss, Matt Dillon

Directed By: Robert Pulcini, Sherri Springer Berman

Any rom-com that stoops to having its main character fake a suicide to keep her boyfriend, is a loser in my book. The fact that this one is filled with limp, Manhattan-insider reference jokes like “she’s from New Jersey,” as though that explains the character’s complete lack of sense or sensibility only compounds things. The two directors seem at odds,—with one trying to make a farce and the other a Bridesmaids style comedy. The result is disjointed at its best and off-putting at its worst.

1 piece of far from being a winner toast 

 

White House Down (PG-13)

Starring: Channing Tatum, Garcelle Beauvais, James Woods, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Richard Jenkins

Directed By: Roland Emmerich

When Roland Emmerich makes a “terrorists attack the White House” movie, you know its a popcorn, sodas and candy kind of flick. Imagine Die Hard with a D.C. cop thrust in the position of saving his daughter, the White House and, along the way, the leader of the free world. Light humor is thrown in by a tour guide thrust into the thick of the terrorist assault,. There are homages to Independence Day, and lots and lots of explosions, stars with clenched teeth, and bad guys you love to hate.

2 and 1/2  pieces of popcorn terrorism toast