Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for the week of 11/06/15

The Peanuts Movie (G)

Starring the voices and sounds of: Noah Schnapp, Hadley Belle Miller,  Alexander Garfin, Mariel Sheets, Trombone Shorty, Bill Melendez

Directed By: Steve Martino

I watched the premiere of “It’s Christmas Charlie Brown” in the basement TV room of my university dorm. When Vince Guaraldi’s jazzy piano was interrupted by ABC with a voice-over advertising another TV show, everyone in the room groaned about sullying the warm fuzzy feelings Charles Schulz’ characters and story had just created. Fortunately for movie goers, the 3-D, CG rendered Peanuts gang is lovingly brought to the big screen by Schulz’s son and grandson in The Peanuts Movie, and for now (until it streams on Netflix), the whole thing is commercial-free. All of our favorite characters are here with the cute little red-headed girl, Peppermint Patty, Schroeder and Pig Pen reprising their supporting roles as Charlie and Sally Brown, Lucy and Linus VanPelt, Snoopy and his buddy Woodstock star. Our favorite beagle is still typing his “it was a dark and stormy night” book, and the various chapters allow for each vignette to be paced appropriately for the different story lines. The WWI flying ace (Snoopy) shouts “curse you Red Baron” as he soars over the playground on his doghouse, Charlie Brown’s pitching skills, football-kicking skills and talking to the little-red-headed girl skills still need improvement, Sally still loves Linus, and Lucy is…well she is still Lucy.

3 and 1/2 pieces of now well-rounded Peanuts characters toast 

Spectre (PG-13)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Christpher Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes

Directed By: Sam Mendes

The opening sequence in Spectre sets such a high bar that the rest of the film never even comes close. Set during a festive Dia de los Muertes celebration in Mexico City, Bond selects a beautiful girl to take to bed, but instead of meaningless dalliance, he sheds his costume to reveal his Saville-Row suit and perfectly knotted silk tie. It reminds Bond aficionados of the scene in Goldfinger where Sean Connery slipped off his SCUBA wetsuit and surprised us by wearing a white tuxedo underneath (complete with a red carnation in the buttonhole). Thing is, that scene was shot 52 years and 23 films ago. Director Sam Mendes accepted the difficult challenge of keeping the franchise “fresh and alive” by throwing more money onscreen. Influenced by how audiences reacted  favorably to the “real-time” stunt work in the Bourne films, the opening shots in Zocolo Square utilized 1.500 live extras, When compared to other scenes using CG technology, it shows. Spectre’s scriptwriters have added “dynamic tension” by having the man who replaced Judi Dench at MI-6 threaten to abolish the Agency’s Double-0 branch. Daniel Craig gamely grits his teeth through all the recycled bits from other films, but it just doesn’t work.

2 pieces of recycled Bond toast

Miss You Already (PG-13)

Starring: Drew Barrymore, Toni Collette, Paddy Considine

Directed By: Catherine Hardwick

I know I view this movie from the perspective of a male with a white beard, but I just don’t get the point of paying money to sit in a theater and watch a compressed into 2-hours version of how a good friend dies of cancer. I’ve already done that in real life more often than I wanted to, and it isn’t in any way, shape, or form like this movie.  The only thing that might happen is that people in the audience might get a glimpse of the dramatic personality changes the BIG C brings to the victim, family and friends. But (and this is a massively huge “but”), the filmmakers jerk the audience around with one emotional scene riding the coattails of another so much that it’s exhausting.

1 and 1/2 pieces of dying of Cancer as a bonding experience toast 

Suffragette (R)

Starring: Carrrie Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep, Brenden Gleason

Directed By: John Wells

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should let you know that my grandmother was a dedicated suffragist who practiced the peaceful model espoused by Emmeline Pankhurst. She traveled to rented halls and street corners throughout New England giving what she called her “little speeches”—and even managed to get arrested several times. So it is with great respect that I write about this film. Set in Britain, the hero is a working class mother who is arrested when a “Votes For Women” march becomes a riot. When she gets out of prison, her chauvinistic husband throws her into the street and refuses to let her see their 4-year-old son. So she moves in with violent, “by whatever means necessary” suffragettes, attacks her boss and starts smashing windows, setting fires and placing bombs in postboxes. Pursed and captured by a single-minded, misogynist policeman, she goes on a hunger strike in jail, and is force-fed. For some reason, the filmmakers decided that stereotypical caricatures would make a good story, and so (except for Mulligan’s performance), nuance flies out the window. Too bad. History deserves a less sensationalized, melodramatic retelling.

2 and 1/2 pieces of needs to distinguish between Suffragist and Suffragette toast