Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is Clever

New Releases for the week of 4/03/15

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (NR)

Starring: Rinko Kikuchi, Shirley Venard, David Zellner

Directed By: David Zellner

When a Tokyo office worker discovers a waterlogged videotape buried in the sand inside a secret cave, she knows she must process the tape to uncover its secrets in Kumiko the Treasure Hunter. What she discovers are scenes of  a bloodied Steve Buscemi burying a bag of money next to a snowy fence in far away Fargo, Minnesota. Unaware that she is watching the Coen Brother’s most famous film, Kumiko quits her job and spends all her money on a quest to find the cash—in the depth of a Minnesota winter.

3 pieces of culture-clash toast 

An Honest Liar (NR)

Starring: James Randi, Penn & Teller, Alice Cooper

Directed By: Justin Weinstein, Tyler Measom

After his beloved mother’s death, iconic escape artist/magician Houdini spent much of his time de-bunking the seance-swamis and charlatans who claimed they could talk with the dead. This fine documentary follows modern-day escape artist/magician “The Great Randi” (James Randi) as he exposes how faith-healers and psychics utilize magician’s tricks to deceive and defraud gullible “marks.” Audiences love watching fraudsters get caught, and the fact that the 80-something unmasker looks more and more like the Sorcerer in Disney’s famous cartoon with Mickey as his apprentice just makes things that much more “amazing.” But stick around for the surprise in the third act, and let me know if you think The Great Randi may have pulled one of the greatest of all “long-cons.”

3 pieces of I used to be a magician when I was young toast 

Women In Gold (PG-13)

Starring: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Katie Holmes

Directed By: Simon Curtis

Trite, stereotypical dialogue undermines powerful history in this “based on a true story” film. It presents the tale of a feisty Beverly Hills dress shop owner who takes the Austrian government to international court to retrieve works of art looted by the Nazis and have them returned to their rightful owners. Problem is, the woman is given lines that sound like they are from a little theater groups interpretation of Fiddler on the Roof. The fact that this heroine is played by the regal actress Dame Helen Mirren only compounds the problem. It is a story which deserved better treatment—and an occasional light touch.

2 pieces of “oy veh” toast 

Furious 7 (PG-13)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham

Directed By: James Wan

Vowing that “the show must go on,” the people raking in the dough from the Fast and Furious franchise completed this film despite the crash-and-burn auto death of the online casino films” most popular star. Paul Walker’s brother acted as the stand in for those scenes which were incomplete, and the cadre of well-muscled co-stars manage to keep their jaws locked in place while their tongues are firmly in their cheeks. If you are a fan, you already know to leave your disbelief outside the theater as automobiles propel themselves into the air to take down a helicopter. There’s lots of wasted talk about the former criminals “going straight” to “right-wrongs” while the villain is consumed with “avenging” the death of his brother. In other words it’s almost non-stop car chases, and flashy automobiles set in international locales.

3  pieces of fans get what they pay for toast 

Effie Gray (PG-13)

Starring: Dakota Fanning, Emma Thompson, Greg Wise, David Suchet, Julie Walters, James Fox

Directed By: Richard Laxton

There is a not-too-subtle sub-text in this tale of a child-bride set in Victorian London. Effie Gray’s husband is the artist and critic John Ruskin who marries the wee Scottish lassie because his parents tell him it is time to take a wife and quell society’s rumors. The screenplay was written by Emma Thompson, and she stars as a wealthy patron-of-the-arts who is concerned about Effie while Thompson’s husband plays Ruskin. Sadly, casting the blank-faced Dakota Fanning as the girl dooms the film to obscurity, since the former child actress has matured into a vapid, wide-eyed statue on screen—completely absent of “that certain star-like quality” that this film needs.

1 piece of Dakota Fanning is badly miscast toast

Wrecking Crew (PG)

Starring: Cher, Glen Campbell, Tommy Tedesco, Herb Alpert

Directed By: Danny Tedesco

The Wrecking Crew” is the nickname drummer Hal Blaine coined for the group of Los Angeles studio musicians who played backup on some of the most iconic hits from the 60’s and 70’s. Danny Tedesco’s toe-tapping documentary gives us a chance to meet these musical guys (and one gal) and hear praises sung by Cher, Herb Alpert, The Beach Boys, The Monkees, Glen Campbell, and even The Pink Panther.

3  pieces of in the footsteps of 20 Feet From Stardom toast