Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for the week of 10/02/15

The Martian (PG-13)

Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Pena, KAte Mara

Directed By: Ridley Scott

In Ridley Scott”s The Martian, Matt Damon plays a resilient, intelligent, and creative astronaut stranded on the Martian surface—alone. How he manages to stay alive and how the flight center back on Earth mounts a rescue attempt is both plausible and nail-bitingly real. The science in this one is pretty accurate, and Matt Damon’s performance matches that of another lonely astronaut—Sandra Bullock in Gravity. But the sets. You’ve got to see this movie for production designer Arthur Max’s incredibly realistic sets—the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, The Spaceship and the surface of Mars—fantastic!

3 and 1/2 pieces of space Voyageurs toast 

Shanghai (R)

Starring: John Cusak, Gong Li, Chow Yun Fat, David Morse, Ken Watanabe, Franka Potente

Directed By: Mikael Hafstrom

John Cusack is not the best choice to play an American spy (and Nazi apologist) posted to Shanghai just days before Pearl Harbor. It doesn’t help that he is tasked  with solving the murder of his friend, seducing the wife of a German businessman, falling in love with a Chinese beauty, and chasing down an opium addict who is the lover of the local Japanese gang boss. Too much you say? I do too.

2 pieces too many plot twists to keep track of toast 

Sicario (R)

Starring: Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal

Directed By: Denis Villeneuve

The sadistic butchery of drug cartels provides the excuse for the brutal reprisals by “off the books,” DEA, FBI and CIA cross-border incursions into other countries. A capable but naive female FBI agent is “recruited” to join this fight to “shake the tree and create chaos” by a tight-lipped Yankee and a South American advisor. Presented like a South of our border Mad Max: Fury Road, it’s nonstop action, and sadistic mayhem that literally soaks our heroine in blood.

3 pieces of well-made and anarchic toast 

Meet the Patels (PG)

Starring: Ravi Patel, Geeta Patel, Champa Patel, Vasant Patel

Directed By: Geeta and Ravi Patel

Those familiar with the TV comedy Big Bang Theory know that Raj’s parents want him to marry a “nice Indian girl” and constantly try to make this happen. A brother and sister team casino of documentary film makers decided to turn their cameras on the machinations that real life Indian parents use to “catch” a “suitable” bride for their son and a groom for their daughter. Poignantly humorous, the “one-date-after-another” schtick soon becomes repetitive.

2 and 1/2 pieces of should have been edited with someone less involved in the outcome toast

Coming Home (PG-13)

Starring: Chen Daoming, Gong Li,

Directed By: Yimou Zhong

The storm cloud of Mao’s Cultural Revolution hasen’t subsided for the provincial schoolteacher and her teenaged daughter whose college professor husband and father was “transported” to a labor camp. When the man escapes and comes home, the women have been “reeducated” and willingly help in his capture. Three years pass, the Cultural Revolution is over and the man once again comes home—only this time his wife refuses to recognize the aged and decrepit man at her door.

3 pieces of historical Chinese melodrama  toast 

The Walk (R)

Starring: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte LeBon,

Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

As chronicled in James Marsh’s 2008 documentary Man On Wire, French tightrope walker Philippe Petit strung an illegal cable between the 110-story-tall towers of the World Trade Center and walked across. The last third of Robert Zemeckis’ film recreates the same event only in 3-D and with a gifted moviemaker’s skill. It is unfortunate that audiences have to endure the warnings from the mentor, the hysterics from the girlfriend, and the perfidy and hubris of the wire-walker tbefore the stunt. News reports indicate people are getting nauseous from the 3-D aerial sequences. Maybe you should just wait to see it at home and you can fast forward and enjoy the good parts.

2 and 1/2 pieces of just watch the last third toast