Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for the week of 5/31/15

I’ll See You In My Dreams  (PG-13)

Starring: Blythe Danner, Sam Elliott, Martin Starr, Mary Kay Place, June Squibb, Rhea Perlman

Directed By: Brett Haley

Brett Haley’s I’ll See You In My Dreams  subtly frames the question: “How will you live your so-called “Golden Years?” It does this by showing us the ordered existence of an independent widow (Blythe Danner), whose only regret is she doesn’t have grandchildren. Little things happen to shake her up—a rat in her kitchen, the pool man who helps her chase the rodent, senior-style speed dating, a handsome older man with a cowboy twang and life itself. The “this is it” mood is also optimistic and wryly humorous, and the screenplay, direction and performances are masterful.

3 and 1/2 pieces of cliche-free toast

Felix and Meira (R)

Starring: Hadas Yaron, Martin Dubreuil, Luzar Twersky, Anne-Elizabeth Bosse

Directed By: Maxime Giroux

In snowy Montreal, an attractive young mother is trapped in a loveless marriage by the strictures of Hasidic life. A deli encounter with a non-religious loner sparks an affair punctuated by the songs of Leonard Cohen, and we romantics root for the woman to break free and embrace life.

3 pieces of tradition versus individuality toast 

San Andreas (PG-13)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Guigno, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Giamatti, Kylie Minogue

Directed By: Brad Peyton

The latest disaster-porn from Hollywood features the former pro-wrestler Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson as a helicopter rescue pilot with arms muscular enough to pick screaming women from certain death as the buildings, bridges, and dams they stand on crumble beneath their feet. Californians know that San Andreas is the moniker of the earthquake fault that runs up the middle of our Golden State. We co-exist in chronic denial on a land of tectonic plates which are slowly (and sometimes quite abruptly) moving in opposite directions. Audiences will delight in the torrent of destruction from the collapse of the Hoover Dam, the disintegration of LA’s “earthquake-proof” skyscrapers (and iconic Hollywood Sign), as well as the tidal surge of seemingly all the water from San Francisco Bay wiping out the Golden Gate Bridge. The formula is all here—ignored warnings, shoddy contractors, wives and children at risk, heroic rescues (and tear-inducing failures), plus a slew of grim-faced, tongue-in-cheek actors creating characters we care about and letting us suspend disbelief for a couple hours.

2 and 1/2 pieces of CG triumphant toast 

Aloha  (PG-13)

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone. Rachel McAdams, Danny McBride, John Krasinkski, Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin

Directed By: Cameron Crowe

I’ll admit it—I like Hawaiian music. My collection includes everything from historic hula chants to slack guitar maestros and Israel Kamakawiwoʻole. Unfortunately, Hawaiian music can’t save this hodge-podge of supposedly comedic interchanges strung together like flowers in a lei. Add in a dash or two of improv from Bill Murray reanimating a character from one of his other movies, and you have what should be the “Aloha” (meaning “good-bye”) to director/writer Cameron Crowe’s career.

1/2 piece of truly Hehena toast 

Shake the Dust  (NR)

Directed By: Adam Sjobergl

Despite what you have been shown in other documentaries, it isn’t basketball, or choral music, or spelling bees, or boxing, or go-cart racing that will bring the world together—it’s break dancing. As proof, we are shown spinning dancers with wide grins doing impossible moves in Columbian, Ugandan, Yemeni, and Cambodian slums, tenements and favellas. The intention is to show how hip-hop has spread joy and offered kids an outlet for what might have been anger and despair. However, the juxtaposition of reality (one African kid talks about the smiles he created by dancing at his grandmother’s funeral) often delivers a somber message.

2 pieces of lacks a focused perspective toast