Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 8/12/16
Florence Foster Jenkins (PG-13)
Starring: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Fergueson
Directed By: Stephen Frears
Once again competing movies are made on the same subject. This time, it’s the unlikely tale of a 1940‘s era woman of wealth who turns her dream of singing opera in Carnegie Hall into reality—despite the fact she is completely tone-deaf. Last year’s French film, Marguerite, presented the story as a farce which focused on how money could create celebrity. In Florence Foster Jenkins, Meryl Streep wins us over by placing a slightly askew wig on her head, wearing padding to look plump and singing annoyingly off-key in front of various groups. This includes the notorious 1944 Carnegie Hall operatic solo where Cole Porter, Lily Pons and her husband Andre Kostelantez, soldiers and sailors on shore leave (accompanied by their girlfriends-for -the-night), and tipsy revelers who come to be amused made up the audience. Steep manages to walk that fine line of laughing at the joke while making us believe she believes in Florence’s “God-given talent.”
3 pieces of a pitch-perfect story of a tone-deaf singer toast
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Jamie Dorman, Charlene De Bon, Toby Jones, Harry Lloyd, Anna Geisslerova
Directed By: Sean Ellis
Two Czech soldiers exiled to England during the Nazi invasion, parachute into their native country intent on assassinating a particularly loathsome General. Their chances of success keep dwindling as increasing numbers of the Czech resistance are killed off by the German SS troops. The film is less about battlefield explosions and more about the personality of those intent on completing a seemingly doomed mission while questioning the wisdom of the sacrifices.
3 pieces of “War is Hell” on a different level toast
Pete’s Dragon (PG-13)
Starring: Oakes Fegley, Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Wes Bentley, Carl Urban, Oona Laurence, Craig Hall
Directed By: David Lowery
In this updated version of the super-saccharine 1977 Disney film, there’s a lot more than a dragon artfully rendered in CG animation. Think of it as cross between The Jungle Book and How To Train Your Dragon and you’ll have a fair idea of the set up. Robert Redford plays an avuncular story-teller who shares the tale of the seldom seen Millhaven Dragon living in the forest just outside of town. The local ranger is a first-class doubter who has explored every hill and valley since childhood, and never encountered any evidence of the creature’s existence—until she comes across ten-year-old Peter, an orphaned, ferrel boy raised by the gigantic reptile he calls Elliot in a Swiss Family Robinson-style treehouse.
3 and 1/2 pieces of not your parent’s Pete’s Dragon toast
Don’t Think Twice (R)
Starring: Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Berbiglia, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard, Tami Sager
Director: Mike Berbiglia
This behind-the-scenes look at the world of Improv Comedy has it’s share of laughs—but it is balanced by hard knocks and pathos. Focusing on a troupe of six multi-talented performers who can create songs, invisible props, and multiple personas at the drop of a Post-It Note, it’s a world of cut-throat competition as players literally walk over their colleagues when they learn that a Lorne Michaels-style TV producer is seated in the audience.
3 pieces of comedy is hard toast
Starring: Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon. Tracy Letts, Llinda Emond, Danny Burstein, Ben Rosenfeld
Director: James Shamus
You should be sure to catch Indignation, Philip Roth’s semi-autobiographical novel of a Newark, N.J. Jewish boy plunked down in a WASPish Ohio college town who falls head over heels for a beautiful Gentile girl. Crammed full of wryly humorous situations, characters stereotypical of the 1951 timeline, there are also somber bits of reality like the Korean War death of the protagonist’s childhood buddy and the turmoil beneath the surface of the girl’s beautiful blondness, James Shamus‘ direction and screenplay are beautifully presented by the actors and the evocative settings.
3 and 1/2 pieces of beautifully presented toast
Sausage Party (R)
Starring the voices of: Seth Rogan, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, James Franco, Paul Rudd, Edward Norton, Salma Hayek
Director: Conrad Vernon, Craig Tiernan
Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg came up with the idea for Sausage Party more than ten years ago, and it took all that time to convince a studio that making an R-rated animated film for adults was viable. Compounding the problem, all of the sex-obsessed characters onscreen live on the shelves of a Shopwell Supermarket. Rogan voices the phallic hot dog, and Wiig his busty bun of a girlfriend. The two crave to “get together” for passionate sex before they go to the mythical “Great Beyond” outside the supermarket doors. NOTE: Although animated, this super-raunchy film might be better rated NC-17 no one under 17 admitted.
2 and 1/2 pieces of funny at times but often tries too hard toast