Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for the Week of 1/09/15

Selma (PG-13)

Starring: David Oyelowo, Carmine Ejogo, Common, Giovanni Ribisi. Tim Roth, Lorraine Toussait, Oprah Whinfrey, Tom Wilkinson, Wendall Pierce, Stephen James

Directed By: Ava DuVernay

On my Word By Word KRCB-FM radio show this Sunday, I honor the Martin Luther King holiday, by talking with local writer Waights Taylor Jr. about his historical memoir (Our Southern Home: Scottsboro to Montgomery to Birmingham–The Transformation of the South in the Twentieth Century) and murder mystery (Kiss of Salvation). Both are set in the segregated Deep South, and Waights shared some anecdotes on air about readings he gave at the University of Alabama where an African-American college student thanked him saying, “I didn”t realize how bad things used to be.” This new movie, Selma, is a vivid and visceral presentation of the specific “used to be” time in and around what has come to be called the 1965 Civil Rights March. Well directed by Ava DuVernay from a script by Paul Webb, the movie includes historic figures like MLK and LBJ, whose names were featured on front pages, and lesser-known people, who, we learn were just as important to this sea-change in the Nation’s zeitgeist.

3 and 1/2 pieces of brilliantly told history toast


Inherent Vice  (R)

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Katherine Waterston, Benicio DelToro

Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

Based on Thomas Pynchon’s best online casino novel, the 70’s era Hermosa and Manhattan Beach backdrop is a blast from the past for me since my family lived on a walk street just two blocks from the sand in the summer and fall  of 1976. We quickly ran across scores of  marijuana and tequila blurred guys who dressed like surfers, but never woke up early enough to actually catch a wave. They played sporadic games of beach volleyball and kissed girlfriends heading off to the waitress, stewardess or nursing jobs that made enough enough dough to pay for rent and food. Doc Sportello (great name) is one of those dudes—a sometimes private eye, who has eye-candy girls from his past popping up with fantastical stories of millionaire real estate scams, drug-running motorcycle gangs, dental rip-offs, and disappeared saxaphone players. “Can’t you help me?” they ask Sportello in various stages of undressed distress. How can he possibly say “No?”

3 and 1/2 Pieces of stoner PI toast


Taken 3 (PG-13)

Starring: Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Dougray Scott

Directed By: Olivier Megaton

Despite the title, no one is “taken” in what the studio promises will be the last of this series—especially the audience. Instead of an ex-CIA guy chasing across foreign climes to rescue his family from kidnappers, he runs across Los Angeles as the cops pursue him for a “crime he did not commit”—the murder of his ex-wife.” One other difference? Compared to the first two films, the destruction of famous buildings is minimal in this one. Perhaps LA didn’t have any spare monuments to blow up for the cameras.

1 piece of really not worth seeing toast


Newly Released on DVD

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 Houston 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