Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

Films Opening 4/04/14

 

Le Weekend (R)

Starring: Jim Broadbent, Lindsey Duncan, Jeff Goldblum

Directed by: Roger Mitchell

A  long-married and weary couple try to reignite the fires of youth by returning to their beloved Paris, only to find that penny-pinching boredom and recriminations are brought along with the luggage. The room is too cheap, the Parisians too French, their son is too needy (via cell phone) and everything seems destined to spiral into nothingness. Other critics will tell you to wait until Jeff Goldblum appears and perks everyone up, but with all the psychopathological destructiveness the audience has already had to witness, Goldblum”s appearance is too little too late.

1 and 1/2 pieces of only recommended for psychology majors who need an essay topic toast 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (PG-13)

Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford

Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

With Captain America dedicated to saving our civil liberties from massive erosion by the very agency that pledged to support our Constitution (the Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate aka S.H.I.E.L.D.), and Robert Redford as the head honcho of this security colossus, you would think the film had a lot going for it. Sadly, it’s a lackluster sequel jam-packed with scene after scene of talking heads. One good thing is the myriad ways the Captain uses his shield (the one he totes around on his arm, not the agency with a similar name and… Oh, never mind).

1 and 1/2 pieces of good special effects but too many talking heads toast 

Particle Fever (PG)

Starring: Higgs-Boson, the Hadron Collider

Directed by: Mark Levinson

Anyone who drives Highway 280 behind the Stanford campus, crosses  over SLAC, the university operated linear accelerator. As massive as that one-shot-at-a-time piece of scientific apparatus may be, it is miniscule compared to CERN’s Large Hadron Collider  in Switzerland. Essentially, this proton gun is the world’s largest (and most expensive) science experiment. The fillmmakers have managed online casino to create an engaging thriller based upon particle physics. If you like well-told stories about really cool stuff (and even if you think you don’t), this doc’s for you.

3 pieces of “colliding we will go” toast 

Bad Words  (R)

Starring: Jason Bateman, Alison Janney, Katheryn Hall, Philip Baker Hall

Directed by: Jason Bateman

Arrested Development’s Jason Bateman directs and stars as a boorish, mean-spirited, misanthrope who manipulates the rules for the National Spelling Bee so a 40-year-old can compete with school kids. It would be easy to hate this guy as he not only knocks of his much younger competitors, but grinds them to dust under his heel. Instead this lout is humanized through interactions with a female reporter and a young Indian-American contestant. The jokes about kinky sex and plastic bags of poop should have been left on the cutting room floor, since they only make the audience wince instead of laugh.

2 pieces of the kid gets all the good lines toast 

Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me  (NR)

Starring: Elaine Stritch, Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, James Gandolfini

Directed by: Chiemi Karasawa

TV watchers who only know Elaine Stritch for winning an Emmy playing Alec Baldwin’s mother on 30 Rock, may be surprised to learn that she is a Broadway legend. This documentary of her one woman show, recounts the high living, and copious empty booze bottles that litter her past successes in plays and musicals like Bus Stop, Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Call Me Madam, On Your Toes, Mame,  Show Boat, and A Little Night Music. Brilliantly shot and edited, this is a class act all around.

3 and 1/2 pieces of oh, that Elaine Stritch toast

 

 

NEW DVD RELEASES

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (PG-13)

Starring: Will Farrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell, David Koechener

Directed by: Adam McKay

The now married Ron Burgundy is back, as are all his sidekicks from the original news team as they transform the world with an entirely new 80’s concept…a 24-hour news channel. The film often deviates from satire into insanity, and I would have liked a stronger hand in the director’s chair or editing booth. Overall, it’s a raunchy comedy that doesn’t make any sense, but had me laughing (actually guffawing) in a few places.

3 pieces of not as funny and creative as the original (but what could be) toast

 

47 Ronin (PG-13)

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Jin Akaneshi, Ko Shibasaki, Rinko Kikuchi, Tadanabu Asano

Directed by: Carl Rinsch

People who believe the American ad campaign may be surprised how little screen time Keanu Reeves gets in this film starring 46 other guys. Reeves ancestry is explained by referring to him as the “half-breed,” instead of correctly labeling him “the box-office-builder.” The Ronin in the film’s title are Samurai warriors left leaderless after their master commits ritual suicide. There is a confusing mish-mash of witchcraft and wizardry thrown into the mix, but the film lacks the  conviction that it believes in anything of importance. I suggest checking out the Akira Kurosawa classics Seven Samurai and Yojimbo, Yoji Yamada’s The Hidden Blade or, for lighter fare, Takeshi Kitano’s humorous Zaitochi

1 and 1/2 pieces of directed by a guy who makes commercials toast