Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast


New Releases for the week of 10/30/15




The Amazing Nina Simone (NR)


Starring: Nina Simone, Eric Burdon (of The Animals), Jeff L. Lieberman, Nicki Giovanni, Tim Hauser


Directed By: Jeff L. Lieberman


I have COSTCO to thank for introducing me to Nina Simone. I purchased a “Women of Jazz” CD collection with one disc featuring the woman with the astoundingly individualistic voice and words. This documentary (especially when viewed with the doc What Happened Miss Simone? streaming on Netflix), showed me her voice was just one part of the powerful whole called Nina Simone. A child prodigy thwarted in her attempt to become the first female African-American classic pianist, she became a lounge singer/pianist who’s first hit was her distinctively original rendition of the Gershwin show tune “I Loves You Porgy.” Fueled by the televised abuse on civil rights marchers by racist Southerners, and the words of poet Langston Hughes, Simone transformed into a “militant Black woman” who used her voice and words to educate and inspire others.


3 pieces of a portrait of a talented, assertive, and confident African-American female toast 




Truth (NR)


Starring: Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett, Topher Grace, Elisabeth Moss, Dennis Quaid, Bruce Greenwood, Stacy Keach


Directed By: James Vanderbilt


CBS is labeling the film The Truth “a lie” and refusing to air commercials for this version of the firing of CBS news-anchor Dan Rather.  Fans of Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant TV show The Newsroom already know that decisions about which story to put on the air are often made at the last minute. Back in 2004, the choice to be made was whether or not to broadcast a report on 60 Minutes II which showed President George W. Bush was only minimally present during his 1972 tenure with the Alabama Air National Guard. The film is based on a memoir written by Mary Mapes who produced the segment, and claims it is an accurate retelling of what happened. History tells us that the basis for the allegations were (probably) forged documents made on an Apple computer instead of a typewriter, but Mapes book (and this film) claim that larger, more insidious forces were in play.


3 pieces of tell the truth or someone may tell it for you toast




Our Brand Is Crisis (R)


Starring: Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthonie Mackie, Zoe Kazan


Directed By: David Gordon Green


The team that brought us Argo, transforms the astounding true story of the former “take no prisoners” political consultant “Calamity Jane” Bodine (who “retired” to became a reclusive and sober mountain potter) into a star-studded fiasco of a movie.  The best scenes  are when two Oscar-winners (Sandra Bullock and Billly Bob Thornton playing the real life Jane Bodine and James Carville), are together onscreen. Problem is, the filmmakers can’t decide if the contest for the future of Bolivia is a comedy or tragedy and ends up making Woody Allen’s surreal 1971 South American political satire Bananas a precious jewel in comparison.


1 and 1/2 pieces of triply disappointing toast 




Burnt (R)


Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Daniel Bruhl, Emma Thompson, Omar Sy


Directed By: John Wells


Bradley Cooper stars in this film about a burned-out celebrity chef trying to make a comeback. He played a similar role a decade ago in the TV series Kitchen Confidential. Anthony Bourdain is the real-life chef Bradley Cooper impersonated back then, and in this film, Bradley Cooper acts an awful lot like Anthony Bourdain. Oh, by the way, did I mention Bradley Cooper is the star? The story revolves around the chef’s attempt to regain his former glory by earning a coveted 3-Star Michelin-rating for a restaurant in a London hotel. The film is a pastiche of masterfully edited montages involving preparing delicious dishes, getting exasperated and angry with other people’s imperfections. and close-ups of Bradley Cooper’s blue eyes. In case you didn’t know, the film stars Bradley Cooper.


1 and 1/2 pieces of Bradley Cooper playing Anthony Bourdain toast




Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocolypse (R)


Starring: Tye Sheridan, Joey Morgan, Logan Miller, Sarah Dumont


Directed By: Christopher Landon


I got in the mood for watching this film by seeing my high school aged granddaughter onstage in the musical Zombie Prom. It’s too bad that the last show was on Halloween, because this horror/musical comedy version of the “Atomic Age” is much more fun that the raunchy teens comedy Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. The movie is populated with stereotypes (the obnoxious horny teen, the overweight horny teen, the “good” horny teen, the older and wiser, scantily-clad cocktail waitress, etc.). Needless to say, none of the Scout Laws are adhered to (i.e trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent), and when the zombies arrive, the screen is liberally coated with blood and intestinal gore. In fact, the only thing that works is the film’s title


1 piece of only the title works toast