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Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

Films Opening 5/23/14

X-Men: Days of Future Past, Chef, The Immigrant and Palo Alto are all good

 

X-Men: Days of Future Past (PG-13)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart, Peter Dinklage, Ellen Page

Directed by: Bryan Singer

In X-Men: Days of Future Past, the ostensible reason our favorite mutants are sent back from a Terminator-style future to the 1970‘s disco-era is to stop a short-statured mad scientist from inventing the killer robots in the first place. The real reason however, is that some of the actors playing the X-Men are getting a tad old for this kind of whiz-bang action adventure, and this allows other, more agile beings, to be cast as their younger selves. It’s handled with aplomb, and sly wit and some of the special effects are worth the price of admission all by themselves. In fact, this is one movie where the extra cost for 3-D is worth it.

3  pieces of the third act drags a bit before the fine conclusion toast 

 

Chef (R)

Starring: Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr., John Leguizamo, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Scarlett Johansson, Bobby Cannavale

Directed by: Jon Favreau

The man who sat in the director’s chair for the first two Ironman movies, has written, directed and stars in a fine “little” film focusing on a talented, but opinionated chef who gets fired from a posh L.A. restaurant and lashes out at a food critic on a YouTube video that goes viral. Talk about burning bridges. A series of A-list stars have diamond-like cameo roles that propel the plot forward with panache. In the end, it’s a father-son-bonding, cross-country road movie, fueled by some delicious Cuban meals created in a mobile kitchen (aka Food Truck). Only problem is the  “tweets” that begin to flash onscreen. They become a distraction, just like they do to people driving.

3 pieces of is it a “little” movie with million-dollar stars in the cameos? toast 

 

The Love Punch (PG-13)

Starring: Emma Thompson, Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Spall, MArissa Berenson

Directed by: Joel Hopkins

A happily divorced but still trading one-liners couple’s carefully constructed world falls apart when their daughter heads off to college and a hostile takeover by a French company wipes out the pair’s nest egg. The answer, crash the French guy’s wedding and steal a $10 million diamond necklace. What? Seriously? Yes, this is really the plot. The only thing making things palatable is the comfortable way the two stars carry roles that fit them like favorite sweaters (cashmere, of course).

2 and 1/2 pieces of don’t think too much about the improbabilities in this one toast 

 

The Immigrant (R)

Starring: Marion Cottilard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner

Directed by: James Gray

When a pair of sisters are segregated on Ellis Island because one of them has a cough, the options are very limited. Until a smooth-talking burlesque impresario offers the healthy sister a job in his “female review.” The offer includes an opportunity for both sisters to live in the USA, and a life-long obligation for one of them. The “review” is really just a front for a house of prostitution run by a welcoming but avaricious madame. Enter a magician from stage right. Charismatic, charming, less than he seems, but more than is needed, he falls for the healthy sister until he discovers she is his cousin. Oh, those pesky little details.

3 pieces of dark and brilliantly acted toast

 

Palo Alto (R)

Starring: Emma Roberts, Jack Kilmer, Nat Woolf, Zoe Levin, James Franco

Directed by: Gia Coppola

James Franco’s collection of short stories set in affluent suburbia have been brought to the big screen by Francis Ford Coppola’s granddaughter. The result, is brilliant in parts, but uneven overall, partly because the book has so many characters and the point of view keeps shifting from one to another. This is a film that parents of tweens and teens should go see as a field trip of sorts—a visit to the after-hours goings-on that kids skillfully hide from their parents.

3 pieces of sometimes klunky but still worthwhile toast

 

Blended (PG-13)

Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Kevin Nealon, Terry Crews, Chelsea Handler, Jessica Lowe

Directed by: Frank Coraci

In this film I will never see, the set up is that a blind date at Hooters ends up with the pair on an African Safari together while song clips flash in people’s minds for almost every non-comic incident.

Gil vowed to avoid Adam Sandler movies years ago, and he sticks to his guns

 

 

NEW DVD RELEASES

 

Monuments Men (PG-13)

Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchette, Bill Murray, John Goodman, John Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville

Directed by: George Clooney

Don’t be fooled by the well-crafted previews. George Clooney should have studied his Three Kings war movie before making Monument Men, because the humor, drama, and sense of adventure in Three Kings is sadly missing. Instead, we have a star-studded recreation of WWII history involving the Allies (but mostly, of course, the AMERICANS) sent to recapture the thousands of artistic masterpieces looted by the Nazis. There’s the recruitment of unwilling college profs, museum curators, forgers and logistics experts (which is strangely left to the end credits to view), there’s the 3-week boot camp of aged and overweight men vocally missing their afternoon naps, there’s the scurrying around darkened caves and musky barns looking for artistic treasures, the de rigueur mishaps which result in tragic loss, and, of course, those nasty Nazis (and Russians, and Frenchmen, and Italians, and other assorted baddies), who don’t want to give back the stolen loot. Parts are brilliant, but the rest is just OK.

2 and 1/2 pieces of not a movie masterpiece toast 

 

Pompeii (PG-13)

Starring: Kit Harrington, Emily Browning, Jared Harris, Keifer Sutherland, Carrie-Ann Moss, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Directed By: Paul W.S. Anderson

This sword and sandals epic begins like Gladiator, and ends like a volcano/tsunami disaster flick. Much is made about the 3D special effects as the ubiquitous sword and spear aims for your eye, and the flaming magma engulfs you. The acting and the script are ludicrous, with people striding onscreen and obviously finding their marks before looking straight into the camera to recite their lines. I couldn’t tell if this was a result of performing before a blue screen for all the CG effects, or TV actors out of their depth. The teen demographic should love it.

2 pieces of “Hey, that volcano’s going to explode” toast

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