Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for the week of 3/11/16

10 Cloverfield Lane (PG-13)

Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr.,

Directed By: Dan Trachtenberg

In the interests of keeping a secret. I’m not going to let you know much about Dan Trachtenberg’s  well-crafted, suspense-filled movie, 10 Cloverfield Lane. Set in an underground bunker constructed by a conspiracy-fueled former Navy guy, there are really only two other characters. The bunker builder tells the woman that something terrible is happening outside, and the guy who joins them says it’s true. But what is reality and what are paranoid illusions? What is hospitality and what is predation? What is human and what isn’t? These are just a few of the questions raised (and answered).

3 and 1/2 pieces of claustrophobic survival toast 

Embrace of the Serpent  (NR) 

Starring: Nilbio Torres, Yayuenku Miguee, Jan Biyoet, Brionne Davis

Directed By: Ciro Guerra

Columbia’s Oscar entry tells a tale of two plant biologists exploring the Amazon for  medical miracles. The first one is a German, the second, an American, but they are stand-ins for all White expansionists delving into the  Heart of Darkness for tangible and intangible rewards. Bridging the 40-years-apart journeys is a single native river guide who is both repelled by what the men represent, and encouraged by their quest to understand the plants they seek. Beautifully filmed on location, the audience witnesses the toxicity and rapaciousness of rubber plantations and missionaries firsthand, and mourns for the fact that the river guide is the last of his tribe.

3 and 1/2  pieces of ecological and anthropological toast 

Only Yesterday (PG)

Starring the voices of: Daisy Ridley, Dev Patel, Alison Fernandez, Hope Levy

Directed By: Isao Takahata

This “lost” Studio Ghibli animated feature was made in 1991 but never before seen in the U.S. It uses spare animation to share the story of a Tokyo office workers life today, and the experiences she recalls from her year in fifth grade. The film is a melancholic metaphor—a tone-poem on the lost simplicity of being 10-years-old when the potentials of the future are often rosy and ripe with wonder. Director Isao Takahata uses drawings and music to create a thoughtful and artistic experience. Allow yourself a few moments afterwards to savor what has transpired.

3 and 1/2  pieces of animated artistry toast

The Brothers Grimsby (R)

Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Rebel Wilson, Isla Fisher,

Directed By: Louis Leterrier

On one level, this is a spoof of all Jason Bourne-style films. On another level, it is a semen-soaked ride in an elephant’s vagina. In other words, this is a Sacha Baron Coen film. The plot (as if that’s important) involves a friendly heroin addict who reunites with his long-lost brother who just happens to be a top MI-6 operative equipped with a license to kill (or “licence to kill” if you want to be pedantically British). The film is essentially a series of skits which could have been used on Cohen’s TV show—if he still had a TV show. WARNING: Most of the so-called jokes are vulgar, and involve some form or other of bodily fluids—human and animal.

2 pieces of suitable for inebriated college boys and other Sacha Baron Cohen fans toast

The Young Messiah (PG-13)

Starring: Adam Greaves-Neal, Vincent Walsh, Sarah Lazzaro, Sean Bean

Directed By: Cyrus Nowrasteh

There is very little known about Jesus’s life as a youngster, and this film boldly attempts to fill this void. Using Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt as it’s bible, it portrays Joseph and Mary as refugees escaping across the dessert from King Herod’s Roman legions to settle in Alexandria, Egypt. The seven-year-old Jesus tells his nominal parents that he feels different from the other boys, but rather than taking him to a therapist, the couple cast furtive glances at one another and debate about telling the boy “the truth.” Problem is, none of this is “truth.” The Satanic ghost who clouds people’s thoughts, the “miracles the boy performs on bullies and relatives, and the Roman centurian dispatched to slay the miracle-boy are pure bunkum. I won’t spoil the film by telling you the penultimate climax involves Mary telling her boy the story of his conception. Jesus’s reaction is to shrug his shoulders and say “Meh.”

1 piece of what were they thinking? toast