Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases 11/07//14
Starring: Matthew McConaughy, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, John Lithgow, Wes Bentley, Bill Irwin
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Aided and abetted by the excesses of the 20th Century, in a near future, “the blight” has turned much of the world into a dustbowl. One of those excesses was exploring space—billions of dollars and a not inconsiderable amount of rocket fuel blasted into the atmosphere. But the solution to mankind’s survival may reside with a former astronaut-turned-farmer selected to travel through a worm-hole in search of Terra-like planets. The only misstep in this jaunt is the filmmaker’s need to explain the quantum physics behind the journey. Since a large portion of the population continues to ignore the scientists’ concerns regarding global warming (aka climate change) it is doubtful that this group of ostriches will buy tickets to the film. The rest of us (lets call us “believers”), were weaned on Star Trek and Star Wars and Memento, which never really tried to explain the science, and we don’t need it this time either. By the way, the film is stunningly awesome to watch—see it in the biggest and best theater you can.
3 and 1/2 pieces of a Christopher Nolan future toast
Big Hero (R)
Starring the voices of: Ryan Potter, Jamie Chung, T.J. Miller, Damon Wayons Jr., James Cromwell
Directed by: Don Hall, Chris Williams
In this Anime-inspired film, The Bay Area has evolved into an Asian-tinged slurb named San Fransokyo, where a brilliant lad named Hiro wastes his talent building robots for the “Bot Fights.” His equally brilliant older brother convinces Hiro to apply for “Nerd University,” and when tragedy strikes, Hiro turns to his “misfit” classmates for support. Old folks in the audience will easily spot the Disneyfied jumble of plots, tropes, and memes, best online casino but tweens and younger should delight in the emotion-tugging material and the triumph of youth over tradition.
3 pieces of Disney Anime toast
Starring: National Security Agency Contractor Edward Snowden
Directed by: Laura Poitras
This one-sided documentary attempts to portray the man labelled a traitor by the US government, as a heroic figure. Problem is, the fellow who now lives in Russia at the whim of Putin the Great, and gives interviews to carefully selected news outlets, is as cypher-like as John LeCarre’s fictional spies—a drab nonentity who can (and does) easily blend into the shadowy periphery. What is important, however, is the almost accidental way the amount of information that governments (and corporations) gather about their supposedly free citizenry. Snowden may not be the casting director’s idea of the person to reveal the wizards “behind the curtains,” but the information he shared (and continues to release) should have changed things a lot more than it has.
3 pieces of personal liberty toast
Elsa and Fred (PG-13)
Starring: Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer, MArcia Gay Hardin, Chris Noth, Scott Bakula, George Segal
Directed by: Michael Radford
I haven’t seen this film, but Shirley MacLaine is telling anyone who will listen that the oldsters can “still get it on” in this dramady about octogenarian neighbors.
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Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Imelda Staunton, Sharlito Copley, Sam Riley, Miranda Richardson
Directed by: Robert Stromberg
Maleficent is the latest of Disney’s animated films to be rebooted using live actors instead of pixels. This time, it is the back story of the villainess who cast the spell on Sleeping Beauty back in 1959. In the same mode of Broadway’s Wicked, (and even the recent Disney film, Frozen) an historically “evil”, “bad,” “wicked,” or “icy” queen, princess, witch or fairy, has been misunderstood by generations, and is really a sweet little girl who wants to be loved. Angelina Jolie has a fine time playing Maleficent as Lara Croft, but the characters around her are cartoonish in their simplicity. Princess Aurora is cloyingly sweet, the love interest, Stefan seems to only have one note (love-struck when young, angry when he’s a grown up), and compared to the immaculately coifed, dressed to the nines, tongue-in-her-cheek Angelina Jolie, the others are quite boring
3 and 1/2 pieces of see it for Angelina Jolie toast
A Million Ways to Die In the West (R)
Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Neil Patrick Harris
Directed by: Seth MacFarlane
Seth MacFarlane (who wrote, directed, produced and stars in this film) can’t really show you a million different ways to die, but he sure crams a lot of innovative end-of-life events, in this 90-minute film. Essentially, this is the film’s one joke—replayed (what seems like) a million times. The photography in iconic Monument Valley is beautiful, as are Theron and Seyfried, but MacFarlane miscast himself as the lead. The other actors get into their 19th Century characters, while the “star” is so 21st Century it’s embarrassing.
2 pieces of no saddles blazing here toast