Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for the week of 12/04/15

Theeb  (R)

Starring: Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat, Hussein Salameh Al-Sweilhiyeen, Hassan Mutlag Al-Maraiyeh, Jack Fox

Directed By: Naji Abu Nowar

This disarmingly simple tale is told from the point-of-view of Theeb, a 10-year-old Bedouin boy living in Arabia—a harsh land where thousands of years of rules and expectations are changed overnight through machinations by mysterious unseen forces in lands far, far away. Tradition dictates that when a stranger asks for assistance, help must be provided. So when a British soldier and his guide need help finding a water well on the trail to Mecca, Theeb’s brother becomes their guide and the boy tags along.  As anyone who has seen Lawrence of Arabia knows, chopping up the Middle East during WW1 was a favorite pastime among European nations and various oil companies. Director/screenwriter Naji Abu Nowar has wisely decided to keep Theeb “in the dark” about Arabian history and current events. As a result, the audience can “feel” what happens even better.

4 pieces of elegantly allegorical Arabian toast 

Krampus  (PG-13)

Starring: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Conchatta Farrell

Directed By: Michael Doaugherty

The potential for deep psychic harm is just below the surface of this Pre-Christmas release. The child of a dysfunctional family has a perfectly understandable and normal reaction to the latest melt-down, and he “turns his back on Christmas.” Like a line left over from “Disney’s Pirates of the…” franchise, his action “unleashes the Krampus,” a demonic force of evil that transforms all of the holiday-themed decorations, songs, trees, lights and tinsel into Hell on Earth. And we used to think that a lump of coal was bad!

1 and 1/2 pieces of sure to turn empathetic children into terrified worriers toast

The Letters (PG)

Starring: Juliette Stevenson, Rutger Hauer, Max Von Sydow, Prya Darshini

Directed By: William Reid

Mother Teresa, the Nobel Prize-winner and potential Saint, (she only needs one more miracle to become canonized) unwisely saved a cache of letters she wrote over a 30 year period. Despite leaving explicit instructions that they should be burned upon her death, they have become the source of a well-intentioned but decidedly dull religious bio-pic. The daughter of Albanians who was born in Macedonia, Teresa moved to Ireland to become a Catholic Sister. Eventually emigrating to Calcutta, India, Teresa “headed the Lord’s call” to leave the convent and work directly on the streets with the poor and needy. She literally had to beg for food and supplies for her first hospice, and since her medical training was minimal, others chastised her for unsanitary conditions. As this movie tells us, Teresa persevered through prayer and faith, and the international charity she established operates 517 missions in over 100 countries.

1 and 1/2 piece of a well-scrubbed religious biography created to help with sainthood toast