Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 7/01/16
The BFG (PG-13)
Starring: Mark Rylance, Ruby Banhill, Penelope Wilton, Rafe Spall, Bill Hader. Rebecca Hall
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Roald Dahl’s classic tale of the Big Friendly Giant (BFG) is given a Spielbergian treatment of low key wonderment and whimsy. The sections in the fabled land of giants (where the BFG is the runt of the litter) are the most magical, while the last third (set in a “real world” featuring Buckingham Palace), depends more on the humor derived from the giant trying to blend in with humans. In our household, this book was traded back and forth among fourth and fifth graders because of the BFG’s magical whiz-pops (aka farts). Fans should be pleased that the passed gas is green-tinged in the film.
3 pieces of Roald Dahl meets Spielberg toast
Swiss Army Man (R)
Starring: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Directed By: Daniel Scheinart, Daniel Kwan
Writer/directors Daniel Scheinart and Daniel Kwan’s concept for one of the oddest films ever made is only for those willing to accept a HUGE suspension of disbelief. The film starts with an island castaway, Hank (Paul Dano) ready to end his (supposed) years of isolation and despair by committing suicide. He abandons his attempt when a corpse washes up on the beach. But not just any corpse. Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) may be dead, but he can see, talk, fart, and get erections. Manny has forgotten his past life, so Hank uses a collection of beach-combed objects and native plants to create experiences like a bus ride, coffeeshop rendezvous and a movie theater). In this pseudo-life, Manny has a girlfriend (who is a girl Hank saw on the bus and has dreamed about ever since). The odd duo finally escape their island with Hank riding on Manny’s back as the dead man’s farts propel them across the ocean. In the “real world” the girl of Manny and Hank’s dreams is married with children and reacts strongly to the man with a corpse who knocks on her door.
3 pieces of you have to admit Swiss Army Man is original toast
The Legend of Tarzan (PG-13)
Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou, Christoph Waltz, Jim Broadbent
Directed By: Daniel Yates
Edgar Rice Burrough’s oft-told tale of an orphaned English baby raised by African apes has been “re-imagined” as a story of jingoistic racism, feminism, environmental threats, blood diamonds and ivory poaching. The result is disjointed with the cast floundering to decide which threat to confront next (i.e. stampeding ostriches, hippos and crocodiles, revenge fueled African warlords, a killer who chokes his victims with his rosary beads, an Alpha-male gorilla, or how to point your pinkie finger in the air when sipping tea from porcelain cups).
1 and 1/2 pieces of completely humorless Lord of the Apes toast
Our Kind of Traitor (R)
Starring: Ewan McGregon, Naomie Harris, Stellen Skarsgard, Damian Lewis, Jeremy Northern
Directed By: Susanna White
In this John Le Carre spy story, a mild-mannered poetry professor becomes the unlikely pawn of a Russian Mafia money-launderer and the British MI6 in a deadly game that shifts from one exotic locale to another in the blink of an eye. With over the top opulence and murderous mayhem, the film feels like one of Hitchcock’s accidental heroes has been trapped in a James Bond thriller. The result is entertaining but unexceptional.
2 and 1/2 pieces of unexceptional John Le Carre inspired toast
Purge: Election Year (R)
Starring:Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykleti Williamson
Directed By: James DeMonaco
The three films in this series of an annual 12-hours of lawlessness sanctioned by the government in a dystopian future have shifted locales from a single suburban household, to a city, to the entire nation. Attempting to piggy-back on real world events, the female Presidential candidate in this alternative reality is running on an Anti-Purge platform. She saw her own family murdered on purge night a couple of decades ago, but she rallies support with the argument that the bloodletting has a much larger death toll among poor minorities because they can’t afford the top-notch firepower and armored residences of the rich. The breakout star of the previous films is now the Secret Service Agent assigned to protect the candidate against the teen girls in blood-soaked prom dresses, Russian gangsters, and paramilitary street armies sowing sadistic destruction.
1 and 1/2 pieces of do we really need this type of movie? toast