Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast


New Releases for the week of 4/24/15

The Age of Adaline (PG-13)

Starring: Blake Lively, Machiel Huisman, Harrison Ford, Kathy Bates

Directed By: Lee Toland Kreiger

Like Dorian Gray, the beautiful Adaline never grows older in Lee Toland Kreiger’s film. But unlike Oscar Wilde’s tale, a pact with the devil isn’t the cause of agelessness. It is, instead a near-death plunge into an icy lake over 80 years ago. Adaline has, as she tells us, “buried generations of spaniels,” and she can’t bear to bury another lover. So the rich San Francisco do-gooder who woos her is repeatedly rebuffed without knowing Adeline’s secret. Then, when we think the film is nearing the end, Adeline’s parents arrive (Harrison Ford, Kathy Bates) looking ageless in their seventies. But wait, you ask as your mind adds up the years, how can that be?

3 and 1/2 pieces of why stop at only three score years and ten? toast 

Ex Machina (R)

Starring: Domhnall Gleason, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Issac, Soyona Mizuno

Directed By: Alex Garland

A brilliant computer coder is summoned to a billionaire’s remote Norwegian hideaway to administer a series of tests to a female robot in order to determine if she is a sentient (thinking) life form. Thanks to movie wizardry, the only human part of the robot is her expressive face. The rest of her is made up of titanium rods and carbon fibers joined together by whirring and whirling servo-motors and gears. In the absence of Asimov’s protective “three laws of robotics,” the moral ambiguities are clear as the coder must grapple with his increasing fondness for the robot and his realization that she may be the harbinger of humankind’s extinction.

3 pieces of the slickest movie robot since Fritz Lang’s Metropolis toast 

The Water Diviner (R)

Starring: Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko, Yilmaz Erdogan, Jai Courtney, Dylan Giorgiades

Directed By: Russell Crowe

On a cattle ranch in the Australian outback, a farmer uses a dosing rod to find the water needed for his thirsty animals and family. In the kitchen, his wife reminds him of his promise to read another bedtime story from the Arabian Nights to their three sons—only he reads to empty beds. The sons are buried in some far off battlefield called Gallipoli. When the wife dies, the father starts the quest to find his sons’ remains and bury them beside their mother. Crowe’s use of the “walk a mile in my shoes” approach has led to criticism from some who see a movie that humanizes Ottoman Turks on the centennial of the Armenian genocide as being a mistake. But, as the Turkish major reminds the director/actor Russell Crowe’s character: “May you outlive your children is not a Middle Eastern blessing—it is a curse.”

3 pieces of Gallipoli revisited toast

Merchants of Doubt  (PG-13)

Directed By: Robert Kenner

Consider this a sequel to the 2006 global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth.  It peels back the onion of big bucks corporations, pseudo-scientists and media pundits whose only job is to confuse, cajole and mystify the general public regarding what is real and what is flim-flam. As the skillful magician who opens the film explains, the techniques of slight-of-hand and misdirection are as old as storytelling.  Now, however, instead of fooling the people being a sometime thing, the goal is to “fool all of the people all of the time.” This film proivdes a much needed antidote to this poisoning of thought and reason.

3 pieces of pundits on the take toast 

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (R)

Starring: Kevin James, Molly Shannon, Neal McDonough, Danileea Alonso

Directed By: Andy Fickman

I blame the director. It can’t be Kevin James—he looks and acts like it is still the 2009 it was in the first Mall Cop film. It can’t be the jokes—they look and sound like it is still the 2009 it was in the first Mall Cop film. It can’t be the co-stars—none of them were in the first Mall Cop film. It can’t be that the elementary school kids this is aimed at are much more discerning and sophisticated than their older 2009-era siblings were. Whatever it is—it’s a complete and utter BLARRRRRT!

1/2 piece of one of the unfunniest sequels ever made toast