Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for the week of 6/19/15

Inside Out  (PG)

Starring the Voices of: Kaitlyn Dias, Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Bill Hader, Mandy Kaling

Directed By: Pete Docter

Pixar’s Inside Out could be subtitled “Childhood’s End,” for in addition to portraying the conflicting internal emotions (joy, sadness, anger, fear and disgust), in the head of an 11-year-old girl named Riley, the film’s resolution embraces the critical role sadness plays in our psyche. Residents of the Bay Area may grumble about the catalyst for sadness being the family moving from Minneapolis to San Francisco, but “relocation” is a major cause of emotional distress for youngsters. The press notes tell us this colorful, creative and soulful tale is a combination of feedback from “market research” (a tween girl who plays hockey, and shuns dresses and anything pink) and the personal experiences writer/director Pete Docter had with his own family. The phantasmagorical trip into human emotions was created with support from two psychologists, a team of master animators, a story crew that  is half female (an animated film first), emulating the glitz of a 50’s Broadway musicals, an expressive soundtrack by Michael Giacchino, and a single-minded determination to create something that had never been done before. It all works.

3 and 1/2 pieces of Pixar triumphant toast 

Dope (R)

Starring: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Kimberly Elise, CVhanel Iman, Tyga

Directed By: Rick Famuyawi

Conceived as this generation’s updated version of John Singleton’s classic coming -of-age movie Boyz in the Hood (1991), it portrays the week-end transformation of a college-bound geek who almost accidentally attends an undergound party. This comedy/drama shows what happens when an intelligent kid from Compton tries to win the affections of a potential prom date and unwittingly ends up transporting a backpack filled with drugs while following a confusing mess of directions from assorted gangstas. Only downside is the limited range of female characters (i.e. mother, buddy, good bad girl and bad bad girl).

2 and 1/2 pieces of plays on the audience’s sterotypes toast

About Elly (NR)

Starring: Golshifteh Farahani, Taranneh Alidoosti, Shahib Hosseini, Mani Haghighi, Merila Zarei, Taraneh Alidoosti

Directed By: Asghar Farhadi

Vacationing beside the Caspian Sea, several middle-class Iranian families are thrust into a Hitchcockian mystery when the kindergarten teacher invited as the “date” for a recently divorced man disappears into thin air—one moment flying a kite on the beach, then—nothing. The screenwriter/director provides insights into the complexities of living in present-day Iran with a languid opening showcasing the patriarchal condescension of the adult males contrasted with the sudden mood shift where confusion, recriminations and finger-pointing take center stage.

3 and 1/2 pieces of fascinating in its cultural milieu toast 

Wolfpack (R)

Directed By: Crystal Moselle

The director of this documentary bumped into his subjects while walking down NYC’s First Avenue—six siblings who spent most of their lives confined to their four-bedroom apartment and home-schooled by their mother who used old movies like Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs as her curriculum. Odd, engaging and quirky, many of the mysteries of these siblings lives are left unexplored.

2 and 1/2 pieces of could have been really great toast

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks (R)

Starring: Gena Rowlands, Cheyenne Jackson, Julian Sands

Directed By: Arthur Alfred Seidelman

A retired woman hires a self-centered dance instructor to fulfill the “learn to dance” part of her bucket list. Gena Rowlands provides the main reason to see this self labelled “madcap comedy” as the oil-and-water mismatch eventually becomes an emulsion that dances together as friends.

2 pieces of “colloidal suspension” toast