Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases for the week of 4/08/16
Starring: Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Bruno Ganz, Jurgen Prochnow, Dean Norris
Directed By: Atom Egoyan
With a cast reading like a who’s who of aging actors, Canadian director Atom Egoyan tells a tale of a 90-something concentration camp survivor with dementia who doggedly pursues a Nazi guard to extract revenge. Other reviewers have mistakingly criticized the set up by arguing that an aging Alzheimers patient could not stay focused long enough to carry out the multi-faceted tasks involved in cross-border assassination. Truth is, patients cursed with this disease often have vivid recollections of past experiences, and (when lucid) are capable of complex activity. So I had no problem believing Christopher Plummer’s character could be a “high-function” patient, or that Martin Landau’s wheelchair-bound friend could harbor hatred for over 70 years.
3 pieces of nonagenarian toast
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Judah Lewis, Chris Cooper, Heather Lind
Directed By: Jean-Marc Vallee
A recent widower uses the complaint letters he writes to a vending machine company as a means of coping with his tragic loss. The company (and the lost $1.25) are stand ins for the drunk driver and the doctors who he believes killed the love of his life. He searches out experiences which will provide color and feeling back into his life—including joining a demolition crew so he can sledge-hammer walls and donning a bullet-proof vest for the sole purpose of feeling what it is like to be shot in the chest. In short, the man demolishes his own numbness with artificially constructed bits of “reality.” Some of his choices challenge the audience’s suspension of disbelief, but it’s still an engaging premise
3 pieces of coping with grief and loss toast
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage, Tyler Labine, Kathy Bates
Directed By: Ben Falcone.
I assume that the Girl Scouts who made recently made headlines by using high-tech business school methods to sell gazzillions of cookies was the kernel of an idea for this film written and directed by the star’s husband. Onscreen, brownies (the cookies, not the little girls in brown uniforms) are the sweet of choice that results in a Bridesmaids-ish street fight between two rival scout troops. In other words, this is a vehicle for the slapstick humor that is tailor-made for Melissa McCarthy. Those of us who like these over the top shenanigans will laugh out loud. The rest of you will just have to exist without understanding “what’s funny?”
3 pieces Mellissa McCarthy-style humor toast
Hardcore Henry (R)
Starring: Sharlito Copley, Danilla Kozlovsky, Tim Roth, Will Foster Stewart, Haley Bennett
Directed By: Ilia Naishuller
This film earns an astrisk in the history books for being the first feature-length movie shot entirely with Go-Pro cameras. So imagine those short YouTube videos where stunt-persons strap one of these portable cameras to their helmet, handlebars or dashboard to capture the “rush” of “living the dream.” Then stick fifty of these shorts together and immerse them in a blood-soaked, first-person shooter video-game of a storyline involving a guy reconstructed with the singular assignment of rescuing his “wife” from the bad guys. Now go to the beach instead of wasting a dime on this movie. You’ll thank me for it later.
1/2 piece of non-stop, first-person-shooter, blood-soaked violence toast
The Armor of Light (R)
Starring: Rob Shenck, Lucy McBath
Directed By: Abigail E. Disney, Kathleen Hughes
If you have ever pondered the hypocrisy of a true Christian condoning the gunning down of an abortion provider by a pro-life advocate, than you will have insight into the moral crossroads that confronts an evangelical minister in this thought-provoking documentary. We watch as the minister confronts the “gun culture” conservatism that pervades the evangelical movement, as he attempts to console the anti-gun mother whose son was shot during an infamous “stand-your-ground” confrontation. Disney’s directorial debut hasn’t quite got everything in hand yet, but the message still rings loud and clear.
3 piece of a clear-eyed look at gun violence toast
Mr. Right (R)
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Sam Rockwell, Tim Roth
Directed By: Paco Cabezas
Is this just another Pulp Fiction wannabe, with “cool” assassins spouting one-liners while a hip soundtrack rumbles in the background? Or is it an ironic rom-com where all three sides of the inevitable love triangle just happen to be cold-blood mercenaries? You decide. I’m still trying to figure whether to choose “Door #1,” or “Door #2.”
2 pieces of gratuitous violence filled rom-com? toast