Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 6/24/16

Shallows (PG-13) 
Starring: Blake Lively. Oscar Jenada, Sedona Legge, Brett Cullen
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra
I can just imagine the pitch session: “Bikini-girl battles sharks.” And that pretty much sums Shallows up except for the fact that the girl is a med school dropout who can fashion things out of a wetsuit and jewelry that would make MacGyver envious. Since she’s a blond, she has to be pretty dense at times (for example, surfing without a buddy, and swimming towards a bloody whale carcass when sharks are after you). But even a blonde human is smarter than a shark—right?
3 pieces of exactly what you expect in a bikini-girl vs. sharks movie toast

Independence Day: Resurgence (PG-13) 
Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Liam Hemsworth, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Vivica A. Fox, Brent Spiner
Directed By: Roland Emmerich
Its been 20 years since the last alien Invasion, and all the countries of the world (even African warlords) are united against a common enemy. Several actors reprise the characters they played in the original, but a few (notably Will Smith and Randy Quaid) are sorely missed. Vivica A. Fox is now a hospital administrator instead of a stripper. Brent Spiner is thawed from his Area 51 cryogenic filing cabinet and as manic as ever, and although Roland Emmerich swore he would never make a sequel, the incredible advances in special effects (and the size of the paycheck) lured him back to the director’s chair. The story is that one of the space ships from the original invasion had crash landed in Africa, and the local population has been fighting against the pesky critters ever since. When a beach-ball-shaped ship appears next to the moon, despite scientists arguing that this is another race of possibly friendly aliens, the ESD (Earth Space Defense) system explodes the sphere. In retaliation, the mother of all mother ships destroys the moon and much of Asia before settling over most of the northern Atlantic. Earth’s defenses seem puny in comparison to the alien’s firepower but a plucky young pilot (whose parents were killed in the first invasion and whose girlfriend is the former President’s daughter) flies into almost certain death to engage in a dogfight filled with more explosions than you thought possible
2 pieces of Emmerich should have kept his promise never to make a sequel toast

Free State (R)
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Keri Russel, Brian Lee Franklin
Directed By: Terrence Davies 
In 1948, love between Blacks and Whites was against the law, and when Newt Knight (a mixed-race man who passed for white) married a white girl, their Mississippi neighbors had him arrested for miscegenation. Newt’s grandfather was a Confederate Army deserter who gathered a guerrilla army to fight against the Confederacy during the war, and, having married a former slave (Newt’s grandmother) fought against the KKK after the war ended. There is a powerful story here, but Free State is an odd amalgamation of History Channel style reenactments, Hollywood style battles, 2016 interpretations of “The truth” about the Civil War and Reconstruction and a recruitment video for the NRA (guns are major cast members). Matthew McConaughey is the best reason to see this film—that and the potential urge to read a bit more about reconstruction and apartheid in America.
1 and 1/2 pieces of turning real events into an NRA-tinged history lesson toast

Gurukulam (NR) 
Starring: Members on Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s Indian ashram
Directed By: Jillian Elizabeth, Neil Dalal
The concept is a documentary which reveals the ordinary, day-to-day patterns of life in an Indian ashram (religious community). The result is like looking at video postcards that have fallen out of a folder and arranged themselves into a random pattern. The filmmakers tell us that this non-linear structure was intentional, but without a cohesive narrative it’s just pretty without being profound.
2 pieces of postcards from an Indian ashram toast

Dheepan (PG-13) 
Starring: Jesuthasan Anthonythasan, Kaileswari Srinivasan, Claudine Vinasithamby, Vincent Rottiers
Directed By: Jacques Audiard
Dheepan is a Tamil guerrilla who escapes Sri Lanka with the dream of emigrating to France. In the resettlement camp, he increases his chance for obtaining a visa by recruiting a woman to be his wife, and she finds an orphaned girl to play their child. They end up in Paris, where they try to adjust to a strange new land while sharing a single room. The “wife” wants to escape to London to join her real family, and the “daughter” struggles to be a French schoolgirl, while dad sells cheap jewelry to tourists. The street gangs impact the pseudo-family’s existence, and Dheepan responds with the skills of a Tamil fighter.
3 pieces of odd mix of realistic hopes and dreams and bloody street fighting toast

Neon Demon (R) 
Starring: Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Keanu Reeves
Directed By: Nicolas Winding Refn
Talented teenager, Elle Fanning, moves to Hollywood to become a movie star and ends up in this bizarre horror film involving a mountain lion in a motel room, a psychotic rapist, cannibalism, and lesbian necrophilia.
Gil does not screen films involving cannibalistic necrophilia