Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for the week of 10/16/15

Bridge of Spies (PG-13)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, Sebastian Koch, Alan Alda

Directed By: Stephen Spielberg

Stephen Spielberg and the Coen Brothers masterful screenplay have turned the unlikely story of a Brooklyn insurance lawyer assigned to defend a Soviet “sleeper” agent in the middle of the Cold War into a con-game with the audience. We blithely watch everyman-actor Tom Hanks consult the actuarial tables that are an insurance professional’s stock-in-trade thinking they are just so much filler material, when, in fact, they are one of the building blocks in a high-stakes poker game of spy-vs-spy. I feel that this movie should be encased in the same “don’t reveal the ending,” publicity campaign that Hitchcok used for Psycho, so I am publicly taking an oath not to tell you too much. Lets just say this is a film that John LeCarre’s fans should wholeheartedly embrace.

3 and 1/2 pieces of a master moviemakers at work toast 

Goosebumps (PG-13)

Starring: Jack Black, Odeya Rush, Dylan Minnette, Ryan Lee

Directed By: Bob Letterman

The set up is straight out of R.L. Stein’s classic YA novels—the new boy in town becomes interested in his next-door-neighbor, but her father warns him to stay away from her and her house…or else. Turns out the dad is the writer R.L. Stein, and whenever his personal collection of books are opened, the creepy characters (i.e. Abominable Snowman, Werewolf, Garden Gnome, Poodle Dog etc.), literally jump off the pages to mess with the puny humans who interrupted their carefully shelved sleeping arrangements. The whole thing is played for laughs instead of screams, and older folks will instantly spot parallels with the old Scooby Doo TV cartoons.

3 pieces of R.L. Stein lives next door toast 

Freeheld (PG-13)

Starring: Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Steve Carrell, Michael Shannon, Josh Charles

Directed By: Peter Sollett

Julianne Moore loves to play “based on a true story” women slowly dying from some dreadful disease. This time it’s advanced lung cancer, and the ill woman is a New Jersey police lieutenant whose sexual orientation is closely closeted. Ten years ago, gay people’s domestic partners were not eligible for death benefits and pensions, but despite the terrible toll the disease and treatments inflict on her body, this woman goes to court to “right this terrible wrong.” Bring the Kleenex to this one, you’re sure to need some.

3 pieces of emotional roller coaster toast

Crimson Peak (R)

Starring: Mia Wasakowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnan

Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

Director/screenwriter Guillermo del Toro is famous for infusing his movies with roiling, boiling, undulating red and black evil, and he doesn’t disappoint us. The setting is turn of the century Buffalo, New York and a Gothic English manor house owned by a mysterious inventor, his sister, and the man’s new bride. Everything we expect is included in the price of admission, plus an extra dabble of Gothic romance to make things even tastier.

3 pieces of red, redder, reddest toast

Labyrinth of Lies (R)

Starring: Alexander Fehling, Johannes Krisch, Gert Voss

Directed By: Giulio Ricciarelli

Throughout the 1960’s a team of German prosecutors brought hundreds of their fellow citizens to trial for the war crimes of running the Nazi death camps. In a time and place where Germany’s official policy was to forget that friends and neighbors (and politicians, bureaucrats and judges) were actively involved exterminating millions of Jews, this task was far from simple. Smear campaigns, physical confrontations and even death threats were launched against the prosecutors. The story is a powerful one, but the movie tends to slide into sentimental movie cliches instead of providing satisfactory results.

2 and 1/2 pieces of post-war German guilt toast