Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for the week of 1/01/16

The Hateful Eight (R)

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demien Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern

Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino’s stature has allowed him the conceit of filming a single-room movie in Ultra Panavision 70, an archaic film format best suited to the open ocean and billowing canvas sails in Mutiny on the Bounty and the chariot-race spectacle in Ben Hur. Stuffing eight murderous characters into a tiny stagecoach stop in the middle of a frontier Wyoming blizzard, the director then spends 187 minutes meeting and greeting each and every one of these truly hateful people. While recognizing Tarantino’s skill, I am one of the few critics who sees the misogynistic sadism the “man behind the curtain” throws in the audience’s face. The notes that accompany the R-rating summarize part of the problem: “R for strong, bloody violence, a scene of violent sexual content, language and some graphic nudity.” As the only female in the mix, Jennifer Jason Lee’s face becomes the literal punching bag—starting with a doozy of a black eye and ending with broken facial bones, blood and pus-seeping contusions and abrasions, and hair matted with spittle, splattered brain-matter (from one of the men) and vomit. Every male in the room believes she deserves such abuse—but worst of all, Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character believes it too.

1 piece of “art” is no excuse for this glorification of violence against women toast

Concussion (PG-13)

Starring: Will Smith, Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Morse

Directed By: Peter Landsman

Will Smith plays Dr. Bennet Omalu, the Pennsylvania pathologist who documented the brain damage among professional football players who suffer concussions. The research is precipitated after a former Pittsburg Steelers center  is found dead in his pickup truck, and the autopsy reveals extensive brain trauma. Omalu finds similar damage to the brains of three other NFL players and names the condition chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), but is prevented from presenting these findings to the NFL player safety committee. Press scrutiny intensifies when former NFL Players Association (NFLPA) executive and Super Bowl player Dave Duerson commits suicide. In a note to his family, Duerson donates his brain to the study of CTE and Omalu is finally allowed to present his findings and recommendations to the NFLPA. Despite being peppered with the names and faces of familiar football layers, the movie is about as exciting as my synopsis.

3 pieces of cadaver-prompted, whistle-blower toast

Daddy’s Home (PG-13)

Starring: Will Farrell, Marc Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini

Directed By: Sean Anders

I use clips from Hollywood movies as “clinical vignettes” in the CE classes I present for licensed psychologists, and this movie just made my list. Advertised as a “family friendly-comedy,” it is really a foul-mouthed fight for dominance that pits a stepfather against a biological father trying to win their kids’ love (attention, forgiveness, understanding etc.) Will Farrell plays the hard-working radio host stepdad, Marc Wahlberg is the motorcycle-riding biological father  nemesis while Sean Anders (Sex Drive) directs his screenplay.

1 and 1/2 pieces of not really funny, psych 101, parental-posturing toast