Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

Films Opening 8/01/14

Boyhood (PG-13)

Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelli Linklater, Marco Peralla

Directed by: Richard Linklater

Director Richard Linklater is famous for the “long tale.” His Before Sunrise trilogy followed the same couple for nearly two decades, and his Boyhood, charts another cast’s maturation over a dozen years. It opens with the young title character and his sister laying on the grass and staring off into space. Their divorced dad is chasing rainbows in far-away Alaska, and their now-single mom is left with all the real work. We go along for the ride as the family moves to Huston so mom can finish her degree, and her courtship and remarriage—not once, but twice. And through all this the boy and girl we first met all those years ago grow and develop and blossom into amazing human beings. Slow paced? Yes. Original? Decidedly Yes. Entertaining? Yes, in the casually-paced way of real life (even though it’s not).

4 pieces of Richard Linklater-style  toast

I Origins (R)

Starring: Michael Pitt, Britt Marling, Astrid Berges-Frisbie

Directed by: Mike Cahill

A geneticist takes a photo of the unusual-colored eyes of a beautiful stranger he meets at a party. Smitten in a way his scientific mind has difficulty comprehending, these two strangers quickly become a couple, and just as quickly, fate intervenes. The scientist, and his focused research assistant study the uniqueness of the human eye, and posit that the evolution of this amazing organ will prove, once and for all, that Darwin’s theory is actually, a fact. This plot summary doesn’t come anywhere close to capturing the truly amazing feeling this film conveys. It’s sci-fi without overblown CGI or soundtrack. A fascinating story, well written, well acted, well directed and hauntingly original.

4  pieces of trust your eyes toast 

The Hundred-Foot Journey (PG)

Starring: Helen Mirren. Om Puri, Manish Dayal, Charlotte LeBon, Michel Blanc

Directed by: Lasse Hallstrom

Coincidentally, I just happened to watch Helen Mirren’s first movie (Age of Consent, 1969) where she posed nude for an Australian painter (James Mason). I mention this only because 45-years and beaucoup awards later, Mirren still uses some of the expressions and acting “tricks” she experimented with as a 19-year-old. The Hundred-Foot Journey’s Hallmark-movieish storyline features Mirren as a perfectionist chef trying to add an additional star to her restaurant’s Michelin rating in a small village in the French Pyrenees, when a cook from Mumbai sets up a spicy alternative restaurant across the road  Studiously avoiding any discordant cross-cultural conflicts, the whole thing is as light as a curry-flavored souffle can be.

3 pieces of enjoyable toast 

Guardians of the Galaxy (PG-13)

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldana, Glenn Close, John C. Riley

Directed by: James Gunn

Screenwriter Nicole Perlman was hired to bring a “scientific and female” perspective to the Marvel Comics world with her script for Guardians of the Galaxy. Staying awake late into the night reading old comic books, she immersed herself into the Marvel Universe—a skill set usually reserved for male nerds. The result is a clever, tongue-in-cheek film featuring a raccoon as the brains of a motley group of strangely-named and oddly talented misfits who coalesce under the title of “Guardians.” They are tasked with protecting a mysterious “ORB” from the clutches of Ronan the Accuser, and saving humanity (and various alien races) from eradication (a fancy way of saying extinction). Great popcorn fare which is (thanks to Perlman) scientifically accurate (most of the time).

3 and 1/2 pieces of summer popcorn-blockbuster toast

Get On Up (PG-13)

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Nelson Ellis, Octavia Soencer, Dan Akroyd

Directed by: Tate Taylor

The preview for this film is one of oddest in recent memory. It shows snippets of scenes from the life of dynamic musician James Brown like page after page in a family album. The result was superficial to say the least, and when those snippets are played out in a full-length format, we are left with the same overly familiar story—impoverished kid with personality flaws and incredible talent rises above the statistics to chart a course to international stardom. With it’s PG-13 rating, there are only brief glimpses of Brown’s wife-beating darker side, but Chadwick Boseman’s performance and the musical numbers shine and make the Get On Up journey memorable.

3  pieces of James Brown bio-pic  toast


Noah (PG-13)

Starring: Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson, Ray Winston

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

Audiences learn that Methusela’s genetic heritage and snake-oil were instrumental motivators for an aging prophet named Noah to construct a boat/zoo crammed full with mating pairs of critters big and small.  It is a desperate ecological rescue mission to repopulate the Earth when the water from the proverbial 40-days and 40-nights engulfs every other creature. We also learn that Biblical-era Canaan, was bothered by pesky, leather-armored warriors, Transformer-like, fallen angels, and teen-age lovers rebelling against their parents‘ traditions (and plumb-crazy pronouncements). At its core, the film remains a story of faith, trust, family and environmental awareness—it’s just hard to see this underneath all the special effects and computer-generated armies.

3 pieces of it ain’t your Sunday School Noah story toast 

Sabotage  (R)

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olivia Williams, Sam Worthington

Directed by: David Ayer

California’s former Governor drives another nail into the coffin of his resurrected movie career with a blood-soaked tale of dirty drug cops. With names like Breacher, Monster, Pyro, Tripod, Sugar and Smoke, the supposed good guys uncover oodles of drug lord cash, but neglect to turn it in. When the oddly named posse starts dying gruesome deaths (shown in “up-close-and-personal” detail), a British actress with a fake Georgia accent plays an Atlanta detective trying to uncover the truth. Arnold chomps on cigars throughout.

1 and 1/2 pieces of don’t waste your time or money toast