Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for the week of 7/24/15

Paper Towns (PG-13)

Starring: Nat Wolf, Cara Delevingne, Halston Sage, Austin Abrams

Directed By: Jake Schreier

The creative team behind the tear inducing, ill-fated teen-love flick The Fault In Our Stars has brilliantly adapted John Green’s YA novel Paper Towns into a satisfying tale of teen romance, hero’s quest and amateur sleuthing. When estranged next door neighbors reunite for a prank-filled night, the girl mysteriously disappears in the morning. No one except the guy seems surprised by the mercurial young woman’s absence. He, however, decides to find out where (and why) she has gone, and how she captured his heart. The third act is a little contrived, but savor everything that comes before then

3 pieces of shades of a John Hughes teen comedy toast 

Cartel Land  (R)

Directed By: Matthew Heineman

A certain billionaire Presidential candidate should give away tickets to this terror-fueled documentary about the symbiotic relationship between murderous Mexican drug cartels like the Knights Templar, a Michoacan citizen-army called the Autodefensas, and the self-appointed American vigilantes who patrol the U.S. border to “stem the tide of illegals.” The filmmaker embedded himself with leaders of both “self defense” groups and intersperses revealing interviews and incidents with these “good guys” with disturbing images of the cartels’ mutilated victims.

3 pieces of a shocking reportage toast 

Gemma Bovery (R)

Starring: Gemma Arterton, Fabrice Luchini, Jason Flemyng, Elsa Zylberstein

Directed By: Anne Fontaine

It is currently fashionable to “re-imagine” literary classics in both book and film forms. This attempt to shohorn Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovery into “real” people living today, is only marginally successful. One issue, is that the characters not only recognize the similarities in characterizations and plot structure their life has with the novel, but actually discuss how to avoid the tragic (but inevitable) outcome. It reminds me of those tongue-in-cheek horror films where all the teen victims sit around and discuss the mistakes the characters in classic horror films make—and then make the exact same bad choices.

1 and 1/2 pieces of soggy Anglo/Gallic toast 

Southpaw (R)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams, 50 Cent

Directed By: Antoine Fuqua

Boxing movies are a sub-genre that waxes and wanes in popularity. The director of this film is noted for the physicality in his work (and is a boxer himself) so this almost Biblical tale of loss and redemption is crammed full of brutal, and gory punches. Forest Whitaker is perfectly cast as the down-and-out trainer who guides the emotionally and physically brutalized boxer (Jake Gyllenhaal) back from the brink of destruction. In the end, the melodrama undermines the story and leaves us with cliches.

2 pieces of soggy Anglo/Gallic toast 

Pixels (PG-13)

Starring: Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage, Kevin James, Jane Krakowski, Josh Gad, Sean Bean, Brian Cox, Lainie Kazan

Directed By: Chris Columbus

Except for the quarter-hour featuring Peter Dinklage, and the brief appearances by Josh Gad, this film about 80’s era video arcade “professionals,” is a complete and utter failure. I blame it on the casting of Adam Sandler in the starring role.

Gil hasn’t reviewed Adam Sandler films for a decade or more, and continues to follow this tradition

The Vatican Tapes (PG-13)

Starring: Michael Pena, Kathleen Robertson, Djimon Hounsou, Dougray Scott

Directed By: Mark Neveldine

A female patient is escorted from a mental hospital by two Warriors of God who represent the Vatican in some never explained fashion. They leave behind scores of brutalized corpses which may have been dispatched by the woman or her demonic evil twin. Striving for the bigger potential box office offered by having a PG-13 rating, the scariest thing in the film is the a blood-soaked accident while cutting a birthday cake.

Gil doesn’t review slasher films—especially ones this bad