Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for the week of 5/01/15

Avengers: Age of Ultron (PG-13)

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Elizabeth Olsen, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, James Spader

Directed By: Joss Wheadon

It would be interesting to edit the overblown, digitally enhanced battle scenes out of Avengers: Age of Ultron, and appreciate the skills of the actors and the cleverness of the lines they are given. Of course, that would defeat the purpose of this franchise, which is is to lure as many people as possible into theater seats. So, this critic has taken it upon himself to take the time and energy needed to point out the mastery at work here, as perfectly timed one liners trip from the tongues of the Norse God Thor, the Mega-industrialist Tony Stark, the muscled greenness of The Hulk, the poisonous Russian spy Black Widow, and the numerous additional superheroes and supervillains who populate the Marvel Comics universe

3 pieces of too bad they litter the screen with so many battles toast 

Clouds of Sils Maria (R)

Starring: Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, Chloe Grace-Moretz, Johnny Flynn

Directed By: Olivier Assayas

I happened to be in the Pollo Loco in Manhattan Beach the first time the clerk added the “senior discount” to my order without bothering to ask my age. This same Uh-Oh moment occurs in the career of every actress when the former ingenue is offered the role of “older woman.” Does she grab the opportunity to extend her career or fight against the realities of time and tide? In the Olivier Assayas’ film, Clouds of Sils Maria, this transition is even more poignant because the actress is recast in the same play that made her a star decades earlier. Now, she must learn her lines while her young, personal assistant reads the ingenue’s part. The similarities and differences between the two women is revealing—not only for the actress, but for the rest of us as well.

3 pieces of the art imitating life (and visa-versa) toast 

Dior and I (NR)

Starring: Raf Simons, Anna Wintour, MArion Cotillard

Directed By: Frederic Tcheng

The newest entry into the “behind the scenes look at a great fashion house” genre of documentaries lacks the drama, nudity, and larger-than-life characters needed to make the film entertaining. Part of this is because the self-described “mens-wear specialist,” Christian Dior, died 55 years ago, and the rest is because his latest successor is a bland, corporate-type who confesses he is  “more ready-to-wear than couture.” More interesting are the seamstresses—women in white lab coats who toil endlessly to meet the impossible deadlines imposed by “fashion week.”

1 and 1/2 pieces of really not that interesting toast

Little Boy   (PG-13)

Starring: Jacob Salvati, Emily Watson, David Henry, Michael Rappaport, Kevin James, Tom Wilkinson

Directed By: Robert Kenner

Unfortunately, the words “well-intentioned” and “faith-based” are bound together in this film. Add to that, the phrase “ham-handed” to describe the screenplay, and what your are left with is a tale grappling with dichotomies. Set amid WWII-era anti-Japanese hatred, filmmakers are saddled with attempting a reconciliation between “MAGIC” personified by a theater magician, “FAITH” in the form of a Catholic priest, “EVIL” in the guise of a lustful physician and a hate-crime perpetrating older brother, and  the “INNOCENCE” of a nine-year old boy. You can skip this one.

1 and 1/2 piece of marinated in stereotypes toast