Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for the week of 2/27/15

Focus (PG-13)

Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

Directed By: Glen Ficarra, John Recqua

The sleight-of-hand-artist and self-described “gentleman thief,” Apollo Robbins shared a few of his tricks to add authenticity to this film about  a con man who begins to teach his girlfriend the tricks of the trade, but breaks it off when she expects a long-term commitment. Flash forward three years to Buenos Aires where the ex-girlfriend has become the Femme Fatale in a convoluted long-con for mega bucks.

3 pieces of audiences love well-made, con-game movies toast 

The Lazarus Effect (R)

Starring: Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde, Donald Glover, Evan Peters, Sarah Bolger

Directed By: David  Gelb

In this update of the Frankenstein story, a team of mad scientists reanimate one of their colleagues who died in a lab accident. For some unexplained reason, the zombified woman harbors intentions of darkest evil which she inflicts upon everyone nearby.

1 and 1/2 pieces of why did they bother making this? toast

Maps to the Stars (R)

Starring: Julianne Moore, John Cusack, Mia Wasikowska, Robert Pattinson

Directed By: David Cronenberg

Better titled “Maps to the Dysfunctional Stars,” this film involves incest, self-immolation, fratricide and matricide, abuse of various kinds, addictions of various types, ghosts, a self-obsessed TV shrink and a wannabe-a-star limousine driver. In other words, a warped David Cronnenberg “satire” about Hollywood families.

2 pieces of bits of Chinatown and Mommie Dearest toast


Newly Released on DVD

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 

Beyond the Lights (PG-13)

Starring: Gugu Mbatha Raw, Nate Parker, Minnie Driver

Directed by: Gina Prince-Bythewood

The beautiful Afro-English actress who shone brightly in the title role of the period drama Belle, continues to excel by playing a hip-hop artist at the cusp of mega-stardom. Responding to the sudden and unexpected attention, the tea-totaling singer gets drunk and stumbles onto a high balcony to kill herself. The rookie LAPD cop stationed outside her hotel door quickly becomes her only lifeline. But this particular cop faces a moral dilemma—his police captain father is grooming him for politics, and being labelled a “hero” to a scantily-dressed ingenue in the tabloids could be the end of his father’s ambitions.

3 pieces of child of The Bodyguard toast