Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases 10/31//14


Birdman (R)

Starring: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Zach Galafinikis, Naomi Watts, Lindsey Duncan

Directed by: Alejandro G. Inarritu

When I talked with Michael Keaton at a film festival in the Sebastiani theater a few years ago, he was the epitome of the “whatever happened to?” actor, taking roles in independent films and doing voice-overs for animated features. So it is easy for Keaton to slip into the shoes of a character who also played a spandex-suited superhero onscreen. Under Inarritu’s masterful direction and paired with master-class actors, Keaton shines in a film that is crisp, taut, and mind-blowingly creative. It revolves around a stageplay that the former movie superhero perceives as his shot at redemption—not only as an actor, but as a father and human being. This one is special, and it’s not too early to suggest that Keaton’s performance and the movie Birdman are Oscar-worthy

4 pieces of oh, that Michael Keaton, toast 


Before I Go to Sleep (R)

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong

Directed by: Rowan Joffe

In this Memento-style film, the heroine wakes up each morning forgetting the past 20 years. She doesn’t know the man sleeping beside her, and is puzzled by the images in the photos her husband has posted on the walls. But there is more involved than just a loss of memory. A mysterious “doctor” tells her to look at the video diary hidden in the closet. It is supposed to offer “the truth” of what happened to trigger the erased memories, but she soon learns that the doctor has edited the tapes, and the question of what is real and what is Memorex raises suspicions in the woman and the audience.

3 1nd 1/2 pieces of Nicole Kidman toast


Nightcrawler (R)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Rick Garcia, Bill Paxton

Directed by: Dan Gilroy

A petty thief arms himself with a cheap video camera to make big bucks filming crime scenes and selling them to the local news station. His edge? Blood and guts, nudity and mayhem—the stuff of checkbook journalism for over a century. Ethics be damned, this guy will do and say anything for the juiciest footage—even setting up the crime he will eventually film.

3 pieces of Gyllenhall as an amoral videographer toast


Pelican Dreams (PG-13)

Directed by: Judy Irving

Impressed by the prehistoric-looking nature of pelicans in flight, San Francisco filmmaker Judy Irving documents the rehabilitation and release of Gigi, a young pelican rescued from the Golden Gate Bridge. Gigi is the stand-in for all brown pelicans, a bird placed on the endangered species list by the deadly effects of DDT. We learn that the bird labelled “alcatraz” by San Francisco’s Spanish settlers, bounced back, until their population numbers crashed recently from other, still unknown, reasons.

3 pieces of much more than just another bird documentary toast 


Horns (R)

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Max Minghella, David MOrse

Directed by: Alexandre Aja

When a Seattle man’s neighbors begin to think he may be the monster who brutally raped and murdered his girlfriend, he grows devil horns in response. “Might as well look the part,” he reasons aloud. In the tradition of movie thrillers, the man decides to hunt down the “real” murderer to bring justice and closure, get rid of those pesky horns sprouting from skull, and shut the mouths of his pesky neighbors. The Seattle area probably doesn’t like being portrayed as a bunch of dumb cops and redneck geeks living in a Twin Peaks-style religious allegory, but what do they know?

2 piece of this sure ain’t no Harry Potter movie toast




Snowpiercer (R)

Starring: Chris Evans, Song Kang Ho, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, Jame Bell, John Hurt

Directed by: Bong June Ho

17-years-ago, global warming catapulted the Earth into a frozen wasteland. The only survivors exist in a hermetically sealed fusion-powered train that (like a shark), must keep moving or die. The first class passengers are the elite onepercenters who had the money and connections to procure a comfortable space onboard. The “tail-enders” are the unwashed proletariat surviving on the trickle-down largesse of their Fascistic “betters.” They are on the train essentially by accident, but also because the ones in front need to periodically replenish their ranks of servants and objects of hedonistic excesses. When some minions from The Front head back to take measurements on Tail-Ender children and select two to “upgrade,” a revolt begins. But this is only the latest in a series of takeover attempts, and The Front’s thugs have developed bloodier and bloodiest defenses.

3 pieces of satirical post-apocalyptic train to nowhere toast 

Wish I Was Here (R)

Starring: Zach Braff, Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad, Joey King

Directed by: Zach Braff

Imagine that the ensemble cast from TV’s Scrubs has been reassembled for this tale of a Jewish/Shiksa marriage where the wife works to support the actor husband and two kids who learn that his dad is dying of cancer. Now imagine that the clever one-liners from TV have become R-rated by including extraneous four-letter words. Then make everything fuzzy and sort of unfocused, where the 26-minute TV-sitcom segments work independently, but don’t combine into a cohesive story arc, and you’ve got the whole kosher enchilada.

2 and 1/2 pieces of Zach Braff style humor toast