Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 8/19/16
Hell Or High Water (R)
Starring: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham, Dale Dickey, Katy Mixon
Directed By: David Mackenzie
Mired in the aftermath of the 2008 recession, two Texan brothers begin robbing banks in an amateurish fashion. They are soon pursued by a pair of Texas Rangers—a grizzled one nearing retirement, and a Native -American/Mexican one. Everyone does what he’s gotta’ do while empathizing with their counterparts and hating the bankers getting fatter from ordinary people’s misery. The background is littered with abandoned stores and houses, graffiti-slashed moans of despair, and an underlying sense of inevitable grief. The acting, especially by Chris Pine as a bank robber and Jeff Bridges as a lawman, is astoundingly mournful.
4 pieces of modern-day Western toast
Kubo and the Two Strings (PG)
Starring the voices of: Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughy, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takai, Brenda Vacarro
Director: Travis Knight
The stop-motion animators behind Coraline and The Boxtrolls have created a film reminiscent of Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke and Rowling’s Harry Potter. Kubo is a talented origami artist, storyteller and lute-player who earns coins with his skills. He is also the human grandson of the mysterious Moon King who dominates the nighttime sky. Like Harry Potter, he bears the scars from a fight between his human mother and this otherworldly entity and like all good Joseph Campbell heroes, he must take a journey with close companions through strange, exotic lands. Parents should take note that this animated feature delves into some very grown up confrontations along the way that are emotionally realistic.
3 and 1/2 pieces of artful and creatively nuanced toast
Ben Hur (PG-13)
Starring: Jack Huston, Tobey Kebbell, Radrigo Sanforo, Morgan Freeman, Nazanin Boniadi
Directed By: Timur Beckmanbetov
The CG chariot race and the Roman sea battle scenes are fantastic, but you have to suffer through 110 minutes of stilted dialogue and bad acting along the way. This is an unnecessary remake of 1959’s winner of eleven Oscars which overly emphasizes the “Story of the Christ” subtitle of General Lew Wallace’s novel. It is made by Christian husband and wife team Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, and will probably be a field trip for many Sunday school children. Undoubtedly, those kids will talk about the sea-battle and the chariot race and completely forget the religious teachings in between.
1 piece of not your parent’s Ben Hur toast
War Dogs (R)
Starring: Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Ana de Amas, Kevin Pollack, Bradley Cooper
Director: Todd Philips
Refusing to believe that stories about arms dealers are inherently unfunny, this misguided waste of resources films everything as an homage to Scorcese or DePalma—and manages to come off as a poor, poor imitation. It doesn’t help that everyone involved can’t decide if the gunrunners are clever businessmen or sleezeballs. The result is disjointed, haphazard and depressing.
1 piece of skip this so-called comedy toast
Microbe and Gasoline (PG-13)
Starring: Ange Dargent, Theophile Baguet, Diane Besnier, Audry Tatou, Vincent Lamoroux
Director: Michel Gondry
Two 14-year-old French boys create a tiny, lawnmower engine-powered house/car and head off for adventures that will resound with anyone who experienced adolescence. Eschewing the use of cell phones and GPS, the short, angelic-looking, artistic lad and the scruffy mechanical genius escape from parents, teachers, and dull-witted classmates on an odyssey of exploration into the confounding world of hormonal-fueled. The teens are refreshingly real and the script just quirky enough (i.e. Microbe getting a haircut from a Korean prostitute) to keep a wry smile on your face.
3 pieces of French adolescence toast