Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
Films Opening 6/20/14
Jersey Boys (R)
Starring: John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda, Vincent Piazza, Christopher Walken
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
I am doubly disappointed whenever I look forward to a film that ends up being a bomb. Make that “quintettely” disappointed this time around. The quintette is Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and the story of the Italian American singer “with a voice like Sinatra’s” became a smash hit on Broadway (and San Francisco). The film makes you wonder how this could have happened—not how Frankie Valli et al became famous, but how their story would win a Tony. The overly familiar refrain, (kids from working class backgrounds make it big and then fight among each other over the fame), seems dull, and the songs, (Walk Like a Man, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Sheree, Oh, What a Night, etc.), fall flat. I put the blame squarely on the shoulders of director Clint Eastwood.
1 and 1/2 pieces of five-times disappointed toast
Think Like a Man II (PG-13)
Starring: Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Terrence Jenkins, Michael Ealy, Meagan Good
Directed by: Tim Story
The first film was a surprisingly good ensemble comedy featuring a bestselling relationship expert who lays out the “rules’ for finding a significant other. The sequel is a surprisingly bad follow up trip to Vegas for dueling bachelor/bachelorette parties while a commentator offers basketball metaphors for every move that happens in Vegas (and should stay there).
1 and 1/2 pieces of unimaginative and crude sequel toast
The Chinese Puzzle (R)
Starring: Audrey Tautou, Cecily DeFrance, Kelly Reilly, Romain Duris, Sandrine Holt
Directed by: Cedric Klapisch
The residents and friends of L’auberge Espanole are now in their 40’s and this film offers an update on their lives. A couple of plot devices manage to transplant everyone to present-day New York, where, despite a few amusing Gallic observations about the Big Apple, the all behave much as they did in 2002.
2 pieces of mildly entertaining toast
The Rover (R)
Starring: Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, Scott McNairy,
Directed by: David Michod
After the collapse of the world’s economic systems, an Aussie loner has his car stolen by three bandits in the outback. He vows to hunt them down and retrieve his dust-shrouded transport device. Problem is, we don’t much care for the loner, who offhandedly kills anyone who gets in his way—even if they have nothing to do with the car theft.
1 pieces of a downer from down-under toast
NEW DVD RELEASES
The Lego Movie (PG)
Starring the voices of: Chris Pratt, Allison Brie, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Will Arnet, Will Farrell
Directed By: Chris McKay
I was just at the big Lego store outside Disneyland, and was amazed what creative minds can do with “children’s” building blocks (and astounded by the prices like $400 for an out-of-stock Simpsons house and $800 for a Star Wars space ship). Relegated to bit parts in other films (Time Bandits, Toy Story, etc.), Legos finally get a chance to star in their very own movie. Animated with a Looney Tunes sensibility by the folks who did the first Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, those multi-colored, molded plastic, toy bricks come to life in a a fun-filled romp. All the classic fairy tale ingredients are included (blind wizard, unlikely hero, female ninja, evil villain, dastardly henchmen, etc.) but imaginations run wild as both plastic bricks and storyline are assembled and re-assembled in countless different realities.
3 and 1/2 pieces of build and rebuild with Legos toast
The Grand Budapest Hotel (R)
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Ralph Fiennes, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton.
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Director/screenwriter Wes Anderson may be the greatest living exponent of deadpan comedy. Think how Buster Keaton kept his unchanging expression even when buildings were crashing around his ears or trains were hurtling towards him at high speed. Now change that face to that of Bill Murray or Ralph Fiennes, and place it in a technicolor setting filed with improbable oddities. The plot device is the theft of a priceless Renaissance painting, the setting, a lavish hotel in the grand, old style with bellboys, elevator operators, a concierge par-excellence, and mustaches that are lavish. However, since this is Wes Anderson, underneath all the frenetic activity, ominous forces are at work.
3 and 1/2 pieces of Wes Anderson toast