Animated Zootopia and The Boy and the Beast shine

Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for the week of 3/04/16

Zootopia (PG)

Starring the voices of: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Shakira, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer

Directed By: Byron Howard, Rich Moore

Rookie police bunny (yes bunny) Judy Hopps has a tough time competing with the larger mammals who wear the the other uniforms in the department. To crack  “the case of the missing otter,” she strikes up a non-carnivorous relationship with a foxy scam artist. The special treat is how the animators have populated the various habitats (rainforest, burrows, forest, etc) with critters perfectly matched to their occupations (i.e. the the slow-moving sloths at the DMV). Also, pay close attention to goings-on in the backgrounds for a few extra chuckles

3 and 1/2 pieces of bunnies aren’t just for Easter toast 

The Boy and the Beast   (PG-13) 

Starring the voices of: Suzu Hiroise, Aoi Miyazaki, Koji Yakusho, Shota Sometani

Directed By: Mamoro Hasada

A young orphan becomes the apprentice to a warrior beast and they develop a bickering father/son relationship. When the entire world is threatened by a deep darkness, the unlikely pair will need their combined strength and courage to emerge victorious. Unlike earlier Studio Ghibli films, this one has not been remade using English-speaking actors, so it’s in Japanese with subtitles.

3 pieces of toast 

Whisky Tango Foxtrot (PG-13)

Starring: Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Margot Robbie, Billy Bob Thornton, Josh Charles

Directed By: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa

Ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan means that neophyte reporters can get assigned as an on-the-ground war correspondent—even if they are Tina Fey. Based on former Chicago Tribune correspondent Kim Barker’s memoir, Fey’s TV show scriptwriters seem determined to stamp out any and all of Barker’s open-eyed perspective, and substitute sit-com tropes instead. As a result, the onscreen characters are merely stereotypes who only seem aware of the potential finality in their life or death situations when the plot twists dictate.

2  pieces of Tina Fey (and her TV show scriptwriters) should not have been involved toast

The Club (NR)

Starring: Roberto Farias, Alfredo Castro, Jaime Vadell

Directed By: Pablo Larraine

A small fishing village on the Chilean coast, has a house where four former priests reside with their caregiver, a nun whose sunny demeanor hides her childhood sexual abuse. Parents warn their children to avoid the house and the men inside, and for good reason. One is an unrepentant pedophile, another a war-crimes indictable military chaplain, the third stole newborns from unwed mothers and the fourth is so senile he can’t seem to recall his crimes. Another pedophile priest appears in town, doggedly pursued by one of his victims who loudly recites the priest’s crimes  in public. Next to arrive is Father Garcia, a Jesuit priest sent by the Vatican to close the house down. The film is shot in quasi-documentary style—with each priest giving carefully worded “confessions” to Garcia.  WARNING: The entire film is crammed with psychological triggers, and the conclusion—let’s just say it is a surprise that, when compared with the “truth,” may not be that surprising after all.

3 pieces of the Spotlight scandal is worldwide toast

Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words (NR)

Starring: Pia Lindstrom, Isabella Rossellini, Roberto Ingmar Rossellini, Liv Ullman, Sigourney Weaver

Directed By: Bob Bjorkman

The Swedish born film actress who Hollywood cast as Joan of Arc, faced her own inquisition in front of the US Senate and fled to Italy to “live in sin” with filmmaker Roberto Rossellini. The lovers eventually married, and this doc includes interviews with their children who tell us they wish they could have been around their mother more often because “she was so much fun.”  Bergman kept a journal, collected photos and made home movies which provide the best parts of this doc. The “tacked on” testimonials from Ullman and Weaver detract rather than add and the music begins to sound like an old record that endlessly keeps replaying.

2 and 1/2 pieces of should have lost some of the talking heads toast

London Has Fallen (R)

Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Mrgan Freeman, Alon Mori, Angela Bassett

Directed By: Babek Najafi

When the British Prime Minister dies suddenly, the world’s other heads of state, (including our own President), fly in for the funeral. As a result, his secret service bodyguard has to leave a very pregnant wife behind. For reasons only possible in the vacuum of the scriptwriter’s mind, nobody considers the possibility of a set up by terrorist bad guys. Any audience foolish enough to buy tickets to this mess knows what’s going to happen way before the supposedly smart people onscreen do. To compound things, the director loves to show numerous eye-stabbings, disembowelings, and botched decapitations in up-close-and-personal, blood spattering detail.

1 pieces of impossible to leave your disbelief behind toast