Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for the week of 2/20/15

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry (NR)

Directed By: Mary Dore

With a blast-from-the-past focus on the times that were supposed to be a-changin’, Mary Dore’s  inspiring documentary about women’s (continuing) struggle for equal rights captures the hopes, dreams and certainties shared by the women and men who gather together to create equality for themselves, their children and grandchildren. The fact that only a portion of the agenda has been realized and that many of the “rights” established by legislation and court decisions could be instantly reversed, adds a nostalgic and fragile sensibility to the thoughts and wishes articulated by the powerful women we see onscreen. Many of the voices and faces (i.e. Susan Brownmiller, Rita Mae Brown, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Vivian Rothstein), are people I met creating empowerment programs for the YWCA-LA in the 70’s and 80’s. I sincerely appreciate how the filmmakers don’t shy away from the splinter-prone fault lines in the Feminist movement as multiple hyphenations are added to the cause.

3 and 1/2 pieces of Sisterhood is Powerful toast

 

The DUFF (PG-13)

Starring: Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Bianca Santos, Skyler Samuels, Ken Jeong, Allison Janney

Directed By: Ari Sandel

Stop me if you’ve heard this plot before—plain-Jane honor student has been labelled a DUFF (Designated Ugly and Fat Friend) by the “popular” girls who pal around with her so their beauty will appear even more dazzling. The hunk jock next door offers to “transform” the girl from DUFF to DAZZLE which, as everyone knows, means she will have to take off her glasses and artfully toss her long hair in a splash of sunshine. Formulaic, (but still funny), it’s plot points involve issues that were “current” when the script was written (i.e. anti-bullying campaigns, political correctness, sexting, tweeting and twittering) and made “real” by having everyone involved talk over everyone else and do so really-really-really fast.

3 pieces of will probably be a popular “remember when” flick when the teens who see it now have kids of their own toast 

 

Timbuktu (R)

Starring: Ibrahim Ahmed, Toulou Kiki, Fatouamata Diawara

Directed By: Abderrahmane Sissako

Nominated for a Best Foreign Language Oscar, this powerful drama from Mauritania brings the horror of Sharia extremism to the villagers who live outside Timbuktu. We immediately identify with the locals whose life is insidiously enveloped by the intolerance of true believers. We also quickly realize that the newcomers are lustful thugs who brandish automatic weapons and cell phones as they force others to follow medieval dictates and mete out terrible punishments mis-labelled “religion.”

3 pieces of a different world view of events in the headlines toast

 

McFarland USA (PG)

Starring: Kevin Costner, Carlos Pratts, Maria Bello, Martha Higaraeda, Morgan Saylor

Directed By: Niki Caro

The director who created the astounding Maori film Whalerider, takes a formulaic script about an ex-football coach who ends up in a mostly Hispanic California Central Valley town and makes it work. Much of this is because of Kevin Costner’s patented thin-lipped stoicism that swiftly breaks into a winning smile. The high school teacher immediately stereotypes the locals, and they do the same to him. But the coach can learn, and when he realizes that cross country is a sport run with a small budget and a team of tough, we can take what life throws at us competitors, the magic begins—predictable, but inspiring nonetheless

3 pieces of we can recast the stereotypes toast

 

Newly Released on DVD

The Theory of Everything (PG-13)

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Emily Watson, David Thewles

Directed by: James Marsh

Since most of us are familiar with British physicist Stephen Hawking in his wheelchair, this biography of his youthful days on his quest for a theory of everything, is a delightful surprise. Based on his wife’s memoir, we meet Hawking as a geeky Cambridge student whose klutziness gets increasingly worse, but whose love for life and brilliance of mind only grows stronger.

3 and 1/2 pieces of Eddie Redmayne is an astounding Stephen Hawking toast