Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

Films Opening 3/07/14

 

Mr. Peabody and Sherman (R)

Starring the voices of: Tye Burrell, Max Charles, Patrick Warburton, Stephen Colbert, Alison Janney, Mel Brooks, Stanley Tucci, Leslie Mann, Lake Bell

Directed by: Rob Minkoff

Those of you who have been lucky enough to catch episodes of Jay Ward’s Rocky & Bullwinkle TV shows, already know that Mr. Peabody is a beagle who, in addition to being the smartest being on the planet, holds a Nobel Prize, two Olympic medals, and invented a time machine to help his adopted human son, Sherman, do better in his history lessons. This 3-D update has added a girl named Penny as Sherman’s classmate (and open up the viewing demographic by at least 51%), while the various items falling out of the rear end of the Trojan horse and the Egyptian Sphinx should amuse the boys in the audience. I heard a few comments from others that the voices of Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell)  and Sherman (Max Charles) are dry, and low key, but the original voices (Bill Scott and Walter Tetley) were done in the same style—adding a whimsical “zing” to the horrible pun which close each episode. It’s fine family fare, with only a few liberties taken with historical accuracy, and the voices of the larger-than-life figures like King Agememnon (Patrick Warburton), Leonardo deVinci (Stanley Tucci) and Albert Einstein (Mel Brooks), are over-the top funny.

3 and 1/2 pieces of enjoy this blast from the past toast 

 

Like Father, Like Son (NR)

Starring: Mashaharu Fukuyama, Ono Machiko, Keita Ninomiya

Directed by: Hirokazu Koreeda

We’ve seen the news stories about children accidentally switched at birth, and sent home with the “wrong” parents. Now imagine that your son is six-years-old when you hear of this mistake. One set of affluent parents has raised their child to be a success-focused high achiever sure to go to the best schools and career. The other family lives modestly but with boisterous humor and joy.  The parents struggle with what will be best for their sons—leave them as they are with the only parents they have known, or switch them back and immerse them in a dynamically different family ethic. The story is elegantly and movingly told reminding us that Japanese sensibilities may not be as different from ours as we thought.

3 pieces of moral dilemma toast

 

Tim’s Vermeer (NR)

Starring: Penn Gillette, Tim Jenison

Directed by: Raymond Joseph Teller

Inventor Tim Jenison has a theory about how the master Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer managed to include such light-infused detail into his works.  Jenison convinces his famous magician friends to create a documentary about his search for a scientific answer to this puzzle—one as the onscreen interviewer, the other behind the camera. The trio spend 1,825 days on the project, and create an ersatz Vermeer masterpiece in the process. Inevitably, parts of the documentary are like watching paint dry, but the personalities, the unexpected failures and the eventual successes make the trip worthwhile.

3 pieces of what makes a painting a masterpiece? toast 

 

300: Rise of an Empire (R)

Starring: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, David Wenham

Directed by: Noam Munro

I reveled in the technical wizardry, excellent acting, elegant word play and marvelous direction of the original 300, but although the blue-screen, CG technology has ben refined since then, the actors, words, and direction of this sequel are sometimes laughable in how far they miss the mark.

2 pieces of may have doomed the franchise toast

 

Stranger By the Lake (NR)

Starring: Pierre Deladonchamps, Patrick D’Assumcao, Cjristophe Pauou

Directed by: Alaine Guiraudie

This French murder mystery is filled with explicit nudity and scenes of casual, gay sex on a lakeside beach. Although the participants leave each evening, the camera never does, as we watch the parking lot slowly fill up, the men taking their carefully choreographed forays nearer or farther from potential partners, and the single-time or longer term pairings being made. One particular skinny dip changes everything, as the audience realizes the horseplay in the middle of the lake has turned into something deadly when only one man leaves the water. It is several days before those on the shore learn what has happened—and what it means to them personally.

3 pieces of cruising at a gay, nude beach toast

 

NEW DVD RELEASES

12 Years a Slave (R)

Starring: Chiwetel Eljifor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lupita Nyong’o

Directed by: Steve McQueen

You can’t watch director Steve McQueen’s Best Picture Oscar winner12 Years a Slave without feeling strong emotions.  Chiwetel Eljifor  plays a free-born New Yorker in the 1800s who is “legally” put in chains and sent to work at a New Orleans plantation. He ends up being owned by a sadistic master (Michael Fassbender), who lusts after one of the young cotton pickers (Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o). The immediacy of the situations, the gut-wrenching injustice of enslaving other human beings, and the complexities of emotions of everyone involved is masterfully presented.
4 pieces of  astounding, gut-wrenching toast 
 
 

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (PG-13)

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks

Directed by: Francis Lawrence

President Snow orders a decidedly different Hunger Game to eliminate the rebellious threat posed by Katnis Everdeen’s celebrity-status popularity—a game where our favorite bow-and-arrow weilding Amazon competes in a battle to the death with other recent “winners.” 1/3 fashion show, 1/3 poli-sci  lesson, 1/3 a playbook of media manipulation, the eventual battles on a jungle island look remarkably like a kill-or-be-killed version of TV’s Survivor.  In the end, it’a all a set-up for the finale (which will be divided into two movies for even more box office bucks).

3 pieces of more precise and manipulative (both onscreen and off) than the original toast 

 

Grandmaster (PG-13)

Starring: Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, Zhang Jin, Chang Chen

Directed By: Wong Kar Wai

If you know who Bruce Lee was, you may know that he learned his martial arts techniques from the legendary Grandmaster, Yip Man (aka Ip Man).  This is an artfully told biography of Yip Man’s resolution of the centuries-old battle between the martial arts style of Northern China and Southern China. A bit of feminism is thrown in when the Grandmaster of the North is forced by chauvinist traditions to pass his mantle to a hot-headed male instead of a much better fighter who happens to be the Grandmaster’s own daughter. Beautifully shot with some truly astounding scenes of power, skill and finesse, my only criticism is the skip-over of the historical excesses of China’s Cultural Revolution.

3  pieces of spade, pin, and sheath hand positions toast