Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases 10/24//14



St. Vincent (PG-13)

Starring: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Howard

Directed by: Theodore Melfi

Bill Murray is relaxing into old age playing a series of increasingly grumpy bachelors. This time, he’s Vincent McKenna, living in a Brooklyn row house conveniently close to his bookie, his prostitute, his bar and the Belmont race track. Vincent’s life starts to change when a new, single-mom neighbor moves in next door with her 10-year-old son, Oliver. Due to a plot device, Vincent ends up babysitting Oliver, and he has him tag along while visiting the various dens of iniquity. Turns out, that as a Jewish kid, Oliver is having trouble fitting in at the Catholic school where his mother has enrolled him. You see, there’s all those saints to learn about, and the bullies on the schoolyard, and…. You get the drift. Not surprisingly, all this schmaltz takes a decidedly somber turn so Murray can adopt his earnest, “serious actor” face. So what if he keeps forgetting which accent he’s using or which leg has the limp, it’s Bill Murray!

3 pieces of grumpy Bill Murray with a heart-of-gold  toast 


Blue Room (NR)

Starring: Mathieu Almaric, Lea Drucker, Stephanie Clea, Serge Bozon

Directed by: Mathieu Almaric

Once again, when the star is also the director, the film just doesn’t work. It opens with a naked duo (real life lovers) coupling in the room of the title. After she savagely bites him on the lip, they share pillow talk, until we are abruptly thrust into a police interrogation where the man is being questioned about a murder. Scenes shift back and forth from present to past and past to present. Since this is a French film, they never solve the who-dunnit, or arrive at a satisfactory ending. Instead, I was left with the feeling I would have rather re-watched the far superior 2000 film starring Nathalie Baye and Sergi Lopez, An Affair of Love.

2 pieces of Gallic “so-what?’ toast


John Wick (R)

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyquist, Willem Dafoe, Bridget Moynahan, Ian McShane

Directed by: Chad Stahelski

Set in some parallel universe place where cops see a dead body and walk away to allow the hitman to clean up his “work,” this film strives for the ultra-cool vibe of Sin City, but misses the mark with so much, ratcheted-up mayhem the audience loses interest—except for caring about the hitman’s dog.

2 pieces of hitman strives too hard to be cool toast


23 Blast (PG-13)

Starring: Stephen Lang, Alexa Vega, Mark Hapka, Max Adler

Directed by: Dylan Baker

In this faith-based film, a young Kentucky quarterback has gridiron fame and a blonde cheerleader girlfriend when a mysterious eye infection leaves him blind. Dejected, self-pity ensues until his spirits are lifted by prayer, a Latina girl-buddy, and an unbelievable plan to “heal” his funk.

1 and 1/2 pieces of “faith-based on a true story” toast 



Quija (PG-13)

Starring: Olivia Cooke, Ana Coto, Daren Kagasoff

Directed by: Stiles White, McG

A “planchette” (how’s that for a crossword word?) is the triangular-shaped, felt-footed board that players place their fingers on to spell out answers on a Ouija board. It also contains an “eye hole” which is perfect for seeing ghosts, or at least that is what the moviemakers of his dull, duller, dullest of pre-Halloween fright movies want us to believe. Olivia Cooke cements her claim to as most uninteresting actress to star in a fright-fest.

1 piece of skip this latest Olivia Cooke bomb




Mr. Peabody and Sherman (G)

Starring the voices of: Tye Burrell, Max Charles, Patrick Warburton, Stephen Colbert, Alison Janney, Mel Brooks, Stanley Tucci, Leslie Mann, Lake Bell

Directed by: Rob Minkoff

Those of you who have been lucky enough to catch episodes of Jay Ward’s Rocky & Bullwinkle TV shows, already know that Mr. Peabody is a beagle who, in addition to being the smartest being on the planet, holds a Nobel Prize, two Olympic medals, and invented a time machine to help his adopted human son, Sherman, do better in his history lessons. This 3-D update has added a girl named Penny as Sherman’s classmate (and open up the viewing demographic by at least 51%), while the various items falling out of the rear end of the Trojan horse and the Egyptian Sphinx should amuse the boys in the audience. I heard a few comments from others that the voices of Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell)  and Sherman (Max Charles) are dry, and low key, but the original voices (Bill Scott and Walter Tetley) were done in the same style—adding a whimsical “zing” to the horrible pun which close each episode. It’s fine family fare, with only a few liberties taken with historical accuracy, and the voices of the larger-than-life figures like King Agememnon (Patrick Warburton), Leonardo deVinci (Stanley Tucci) and Albert Einstein (Mel Brooks), are over-the top funny.

3 and 1/2 pieces of enjoy this blast from the past toast 

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