Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

 

 

The Giver (PG-13)

Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Odeya Rush, Alexander Skarsgard, Jeff Bridges, Katie Holmes Meryl Streep, Taylor Swift

Directed by: Philip Noyce

In the dystopian future of  Lois Lowry’s mega-popular 1993 Newberry winning YA novel, a teenagers’ position in society is determined by a Council of Elders.  The book has millions of fans, and they should be pleased with the filmmakers’ reverence to the source material. Because he can see colors and other’s cannot, the young hero is chosen to be a Receiver of Memory. One of the perks that comes with this elite job, is getting to know a bearded, hermit-like wise man who shares what the world used to be like. The teens of this future, are saddled with the financial, social, scientific, political and environmental disasters created by greed, intransigence, and failed leadership.  The parallels are obvious, and although it takes awhile, our  teen hero does got to go on a physical quest as well as a metaphysical one.

3  pieces of fans of the book should embrace this toast

 

Magic In the Moonlight (PG-13)

Starring: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Marcia Gay HArdin, Hamish Linklater

Directed by: Woody Allen

For no particular reason except perhaps the weather, Woody Allen has set his latest film in the South of France. It’s the 1920‘s and in addition to hot jazz and flappers, the sophisticates of that time were fascinated with the mysteries of the occult. Fueled by tales of the recently excavated tomb of King Tut and the ancient Egyptian’s fascination with the afterlife, mediums who claimed they could communicate with the “dear departed” proliferated. A professional debunker arrives in Cannes to unmask an American spiritualist. Only, he doesn’t find any tricks, and instead falls under her spell, and courts her with long strolls, scenic outings to the countryside and a visit to an astronomical observatory. But the film’s title is the real charlatan, since it has very little magic in it’s 99 minutes.

1 and 1/2 pieces of bleh Woody Allen toast

 

Let’s Be Cops (R)

Starring: Damon Wayans Jr., Jake Johnson, Andy Garcia, Nina Dobrev

Directed by: Luke Greenfield

When two video game developers dress up as cops for a costume party and are mistaken for real ones, the duo is quickly impressed with the “chick magnet” ability of  the uniform, badge and gun. They begin patrolling the streets in their fake outfits trolling for booty, and if you think they will end up in dangerous situations with the Russian Mafia, raise your hand. If you think this premise is funny, waste your money.

1 and 1/2  pieces of ‘taint funny toast 

 

Calvary (R)

Starring: Brendan Gleason, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly

Directed by: John Michael McDonagh

The preview for this film looked really interesting—during confession, a rural Irish priest is told to gets his affairs in order, because he will be executed within the week. The man on the other side of the screen was sexaluy abused by priests when he was young, and has selected a good priest to make atonement for those sins. Respecting the sanctity of the confessional, the priest continues his daily duties in between tracking down his would-be killer. He discovers that the seven deadly sins have captured his flock, with one dark-humored scene after another. In the end, it goes on too long, the Irishness of it all gets in the way, and the audience is left with a feeling that they have just lost 104 minutes of their lives that could have been spent in much healthier pursuits.

1 and 1/2 pieces of don’t be sucker in by the well-made trailer toast

 

Mood Indigo (R)

Starring: Roman Duris, Audrey Tatou, Gad Elmahleh

Directed by: Michael Gondry

Imagine Inspector Gadget munching Brie and French champagne while Duke Elington tickles the ivories, and you would be  on the road to understanding this inventive (and quickly tiresome) French Farce. This film exists in a world where limousines are transparent, TV chefs pass missing ingredients through the screen to cooks at home, and a love-struck inventor is paid to strip naked and lie on a pile of dirt to protect the seedlings of brass acorns as they germinate and grow into proton guns.  Some may find the film quirky, I found the idea of a pretty girl inhaling a snowflake and having vines grow in her lungs  (which leads to the inventor taking the acorn-shielding job)to be just too macabre for my taste.

1 and 1/2 pieces of truly weird but not really that interesting toast

 

 

 

NEW DVD RELEASES

Muppets Most Wanted (PG)

Starring: Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Ty Burrell, Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey

Directed by: James Bobin

Our favorite assemblage of bubble-eyed, furry critters heads to Europe on tour, only to find themselves caught in a dual-identity caper movie cooked up by a master criminal who, except for the mole on his cheek, looks exactly like Kermit. Aging purists who have had their memories of the original Muppet Show antics immortalized in bronze, may find some of the bits a little too puppet-like, but there’s a lot of fun goings on here, ad Tina Fey is a hoot.

3 pieces of we miss Jim Hensen, but it’s still fun toast 

Bears (G)

Narrated by: John C. Riley

Directed by: Alastair Fothergill, Keith Scholey

We recently took a family outing to the Disney Museum in San Francisco’s Presdio Park, and part of the amazingly thorough display focused on Walt Disney’s so called “Nature Films.” The first one was called Seal Island, and mythology tells us that the directors were stumped over what to do with a mile of nature photography shot in Alaska. Originally conceived as a film about Eskimos (that’s what the native Aleut people were called back then), there was so much material, that a short film about Alaska’s wild animals was put together. Part of the footage, showed dozens of little sea pups being born, growing up and generally looking cute. Walt screened the outtakes, and said something like, “Too many characters. All the seals look alike, just tell the story of one seal pup using combined footage.” The point is, that same Disney magic is used to great effect in Bears. Even the most jaded movie watcher will be captured by the cub’s inherent adorableness, and if the one followed most closely is played by several “stunt doubles,” who really cares?

3 pieces of cute bear cubs toast