Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
For the week of 4/22/16
Miles Ahead (R)
Starring: Don Cheadle, Ewan McGregor, Emayatzy E. Cortinealdi, Michael Stuhlbarg
Director: Don Cheadle
Making a movie about Jazz musician Miles Davis called Miles Ahead has obsessed actor Don Cheadle’s life for decades, and he serves as the film’s producer, director, co-screenwriter and star to see his vision succeed. It is a singularly original film—told from the self-obsessed perspective of a drug-fueled, musical genius sharing his story with a Rolling Stone reporter who he convinces to be his partner-in-crime as they steal back the only copy of Davis’ latest album from a crooked record producer. The interview flashbacks vary from realistic to surrealistic—a misogynistic druggie in a love/hate marriage to ballerina Frances Taylor; a wannabe businessman flim-flammed by gangstas in alleyways and board rooms; a musical genius obsessed with sharing the sounds only can create; an angry, charismatic, inspirational, yet depressed human being searching for answers he never found, yet leaving a legacy of musical oneness.
3 pieces of Cheadle is Miles Davis toast
Elvis & Nixon (R)
Starring: Michael Shannon, Kevin Spacey, Alex Pettyfer, Johnny Knoxville, Colin Hanks, Tate Donovan
Director: Liza Johnson
Rumor has it, that a White House photograph taken of Richard Nixon uncomfortably meeting Elvis Presley has become the most requested image in the National Archives. The “King of Rock and Roll” was the one who wanted the meeting to enable him to become a “federal agent against the war on drugs.” Knowing what we do about Elvis’ personal demons, the motivation may not be altruistic (wife Priscilla Presley has said it was to allow for freedom of movement for her husband’s stash of drugs and guns), but Tricky Dick has a thinly disguised political motivation himself (i.e. his “Southern Strategy). Cowritten by Princess Bride actor Cary Elwes, the script is more style than substance, with the midcentury-modern ambiance and soundtrack adding depth to the master-class performances by Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey that are the real reason to catch this movie.
3 pieces of historical footnote toast
A Hologram for the King (R)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Sarita Chowdhury, Tom Skerritt, Ben Whitshaw
Director: Tom Tykwer
Ever since R2D2 projected Princess Leia’s image in Star Wars, people have been lusting for a holographic communication device. If you are the wealthiest king on the planet, wishes can become reality, which is why an American salesman is parked in a desert tent waiting for a continuously rescheduled meeting to take place. We know a bit about this man—a former Schwinn bicycle executive who empathized with his co-workers when their jobs were outsourced to China, and soon found himself downsized as well. Tom Hanks is perfectly cast as the salesman stuck in the tent. He is cut off from the outside world, and his local contacts are limited to a taxi driver offering a side trip to a public execution and the female doctor who subtly suggests a sex cure may ease for his aching back.
3 pieces of complexities of conducting business with a king toast
The Winding Stream (NR)
Starring: Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Sheryl Crow, George Jones, The Cash Family
Director: Beth Harrington
The full title of Beth Harrington’s documentary is The Winding Stream: The Carters, the Cashes, and the Course of Country Music, and we discover it is the woman who have ensured that the stream keeps rolling along. The source begins in poetically-named Poor Valley, Virginia, where family patriarch A.P. Carter founded a church in 1906 that still reverberates with Appalachian-tinged gospel music to this day. Deciding to follow the Carter’s musical advice to “keep on the sunny side,” the well- known stories of darkness that tinge the family’s history are wisely side-lined, so that we float above the stream’s sharpest rocks, to focus instead on the imagery, words, personalities and talent of country music royalty.
3 pieces of Carter/Cash musical delight toast