Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases for the week of 10/09/15
99 Homes (R)
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, Laura Dern
Directed By: Rahmin Bahrani
The shark-like real estate agent (Michael Shannon), who evicts a working class family from their home in Rahmin Bahrani’s film 99 Homes, then offers a crust of bread to the unemployed father (Andrew Garfield). “I’ll pay you good money (under the table) to relocate other families,” he says. Should the guy take the offer when he has no other options? This is a well constructed and timely morality tale where this Floridian devil ‘s Range Rover comes complete with a mistress in the passenger seat, and the ordinary guy seems ill-prepared to resist the temptations dangled in front of his face.
3 and 1/2 pieces of the devil incarnate vs an ordinary guy toast
He Named Me Malala (PG-13)
Directed By: Davis Guggenheim
Malala Yousafzai is the astoundingly centered young Afghan woman who was shot in the head by the Taliban for the “crime” of encouraging girls to go to school. Instead of being intimidated by the attack, she became even more politically active and earned the Nobel Peace Prize for her life’s work. Now living in England with her parents and siblings, she wrote the bestselling memoir I Am Malala that formed the basis of David Guggenheim’s confusingly edited documentary. Essentially the doc has three segments —Malala’s younger life as vocal critic of Afghanistan’s chauvinistic traditions; her current life as a “regular” teenager living with her family while travelling the world advocating education; and an animated pastel retelling of the Afghan fable about the origins of the name Malala. Instead of just letting us get to know this truly astounding woman, the filmmakers have used sloppy and unnecessary editing tricks like juxtaposing a Taliban bomb attack with a sequence where Malala is laughing with her family. These tricks combine to undermine what should have been “strong woman” story into an emotionally jarring experience.
3 pieces of a Strong Woman story sloppily edited by men toast
Starring: Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara, Amanda Seyfried
Directed By: Joe Wright
The filmmakers behind this debacle come across like exemplars in an abnormal psychology textbook. Why else would they take James M. Barrie’s well-loved storybook characters and slime them with sadistic, child-hating evil? They have shifted the timeline from Victorian England to the horrors of London during the blitz. The fey and really-not-that-evil, Captain Hook has become an Indiana-Jones-style character who lusts after every scantily clad female he encounters while the resident pirate, Blackbeard, is obsessed with using flame throwers to exterminate every one of Neverland’s native Indians and Fairies. At the same time, Earth-born orphan boys are kidnapped by pedophile “night pirates” to toil as slaves in “fairy-dust” mines reminiscent of the steam-punk sets from Mad Max: Fury Road. The studio needs to sell $400 million in tickets to pay back their investment. Don’t bother sending them one thin dime of your hard-earned money.
1/2 piece of fatally flawed toast
Paul Taylor Creative Domain (NR)
Directed By: Katie Geis
Dancer/Choreographer Paul Taylor is in his 80’s, but he still fills a dance studio with his larger-than-life energy. The documentary filmmaker has wisely chosen to have her camera inhabit the dance studio and focus on the creative juices that course directly through Taylor’s mind to the dancers’ bodies. It is an existential transformation that envelopes the receptive audience with wonder and joy.
3 pieces of the process is even more astounding than the product toast