Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
Films Opening 6/27/14
The German Doctor (R)
Starring: Alex Brendermuhl, Florencia Bado, Natalia Oreiro, Diego Pertti, Elena Roger
Directed by: Lucia Perenzo
It is important to understand that the notorious Nazi physician Josef Mengele performed medical experiments in Auschwitz concentration camp on live subjects. His unscientific “experiments” focused on twins, dwarfs, and people who have two different-colored eyes. His stated goal was to “better understand heredity,” and possibly transform people into the “Aryan ideal.” Almost all of his subjects died, either from the experiment, or, in the case of twins, were killed to perform comparative autopsies with their siblings. Surviving eyewitnesses describe Mengele as being “kindly” toward his young subjects, offering them candy and small gifts before they became human guinea pigs. This same man escaped to Argentina after WWII, and this fictionalized story provides one possibility of how he evaded capture and befriended the short-statured, 12-year-old daughter of his landlords. Presented from the point-of-view of the girl, the story is creepy to say the least.
3 pieces of historically unsettling toast
For No Good Reason (R)
Starring: Ralph Steadman, Johnny Depp, Hunter S. Thompson
Directed by: Charlie Paul
Some of my fellow critics are loudly proclaiming that the inclusion of Johnny Depp in a film featuring the anger-fueled artist named Ralph Steadman colors the documentary. They are missing the point. Steadman is inexorably joined-at-the-hip with gonzo writer Hunter S. Thompson and Depp is in the film to appeal to the younger demographic who don’t have the slightest idea who Hunter S. Thompson is except for some bad movies based on his books. Those movies (Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas,The Rum Diary, Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson), starred Johnny Depp. If Depp and the other celebrities weren’t in the film, we would be left with a modest look at an artist whose mescaline-fueled style is instantly recognizable but that wouldn’t draw large audiences.
2 and 1/2 pieces of documented artistry toast
Transformers: Age of Extinction (PG-13)
Starring: Mark Wahlberg. Stanley Tucci, Niccola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Kelsey Grammer
Directed by: Michael Bey
Michael Bey has created a fourth film in his Transformers franchise and has created a slight problem. What do you call a film that is the first of a trilogy that is the second trilogy in a series of trilogies that will continue as long as people fill the seats? This particular set of three films will supposedly have Mark Wahlberg as the distraught father of the required nubile teenager in short shorts. I assume that the role of the nubile girl will be performed in the future by other actresses playing a previously unseen other daughter, or niece or exchange student. It doesn’t matter, These films are all constructed from the same box of parts, and despite the plethora of new ideas available, only a few are added to each film. This time, it’s the wise-cracking Autobots (voiced by John Goodman and Ken Wattanabe).
2 pieces of Michael Bey loud, louder, loudest toast
Obvious Child (R)
Starring: Jenny Slate, Gabby Hoffman, Polly Draper
Directed by: Gillian Robepierre
Once again I find myself unresponsive to another self-indulgent “New York film school” movie. This time, the young, neurotic star is a wannabe comedienne who uses her real-life experiences as fodder for her monologues. Her boyfriend recently dumped her, so she goes to bed with a “nice enough for now” sort of guy and ends up pregnant. Her stereotypical mother offers unwanted advice, and her friends offer concerned facial expressions and bon mots on cue. Tres, tres funny eh?
2 pieces of whiny while trying to be funny toast
NEW DVD RELEASES
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
Starring: Jake Gyllenhall, Melanie Laurant, Isabella Rosellini
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Based upon a book by Portuguese Nobel Prize winning novelist Jose Saramago, this Canadian film attempts to create a David Lynch style tale about a man who sees his exact double in a movie, and tracks him down in middle-aged-crisis mode. This sounds more interesting than the film actually is, which is unfortunate, because there are some hints of being really good amid all the confusion.
1 and 1/2 pieces of confusing doppleganger toast