“British WWI drama” competes against “American sex comedy” 

Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for the week of 7/03/15

Testament of Youth (PG-13)

Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Emily Watson, Miranda Richardson

Directed By: James Kent

This theatrical film version of Testament of Youth, Vera Brittain’’s memoir about her life as a (female) student at Oxford before WWI, and her coming-of-age as a member of the Voluntary Aid Detachment nursing the war wounded in Britain and Germany may seem overly familiar. The BBC originally broadcast their 5- part adaptation of the book (starring Cheryl Campbell) in 1979, and many PBS stations rebroadcast it this summer.  Even with this sense of deja-vu, it’s a well done historical drama

3 pieces of Brits in the War to End All Wars toast 

The Overnight (R)

Starring: Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman

Directed By: Patrick Brice

Patrick Brice directs his own screenplay in this self-labelled “American sex comedy.” Parents Adam and Emily are newcomers to L.A. so they accept an invite to a “family night” pizza party with Kurt and Charlotte and their son Max. After the kids fall asleep, eccentricities accumulate as verbal filters, inhibitions and hidden secrets are released in a decidedly grown-up version of “truth or dare.” As promised, clothing is shed, boundaries are stretched (okay, broken), and the results are messy. The actors try hard, but the neophyte director isn’t sure enough of when to yell “cut.” Once in awhile, it’s too soon, but most of the time the “bromance” gag goes on too long.

2 and 1/2 pieces of online casino trying a little to hard to be avant-guard toast 

Faith of Our Fathers aka To the Wall (PG-13)

Starring: Kevin Downes, David A.R. White, Sean McGowan, Stephen Baldwin

Directed By: Carey Scott

The latest faith-based movie from PureFlix Entertainment takes a tip from Nicholas Sparkes’ string of hits and uses letters from the past as the catalyst that unites disparate individuals. Here, the letters were written by Vietnam Vets—one (quoting from the press notes) “a man of great faith. The other a doubtful cynic.” Guided by words the two soldiers wrote a quarter-century ago, their sons are complete strangers, but their father’s love sends them on a quest to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.—that quickly turns into a screwball road picture with an “oil and water” couple of guys stuck with each other for several thousand miles. Tears are shed at “the Wall.”

1 piece of “lets put on a show” starring talentless actors and then tack on a moral message at the end toast

Terminator:Genysis (PG-13)

Starring: Arnold Schwartzenegger, Jason Clarke, Amelia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Lee Bying-Hun

Directed By: Alan Taylor

The “original Terminator/T-100 (model 101) is now endearingly called “Guardian” or “Pops” by Sarah Conner which gives you a sense of the conflicting emotions the moviemakers have had dealing with this iconic enterprise over the past few years. Let’s just say this film was originally set in another timeline  —or was it? Confusingly, John Conner is now a T-3000 fighting against the familiar T-1000 and  the new T-5000 an “advanced” Terminator who has travelled across various timelines to infiltrate the resistance by posing as Alex, a new recruit. Like a playbook of the franchises various legal troubles (including bankruptcy, auctions, posing by various executives, and Arnold calmly smoking a cigar and saying : “I’ll be back” through all the mess) the mythology has become extremely muddled. Surprisingly, audiences actually seem to care, grumbling as they exited the theaters “Move along. There’s nothin’ new here.”

2 and 1/2 pieces of deja vu toast

Magic Mike: XXL (R)

Starring: Channing Tatum, Elizabeth Banks,  Adam Rodriguez, Donald Glover, Kevin Nash, Joe Mangeniello, Matt Bomer, Amber Heard, Jada Pinkett Smith

Directed By: Gregory Jacobs

“Alright, alright, alright” Matthew McConaughy used to say in the first film about male stippers, but he’s missing in this one, and the film is far from “alright.” The pace is off, the bump and grinds go on too long, the characterizations are shallow, the relationships Mike has with “his women” are unexplored, and the only thing size XXL in this are the egos involved.

1 piece of far from “alright, alright, alright” toast