Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 9/09/16

Sully (PG-13)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Mike O’Malley, Anna Gunn, Laura Linney, Chris Bauer
Directed By: Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood’s spare and carefully planned directing style works well with Sully, the story about airline captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and his air and ground crew. Dubbed “the miracle on the Hudson,” Sully carefully set his U.S. Airways plane on the surface of the Hudson river and saved the 155 passengers and flight crew. Sully is a semi-local hero (he lives in Danville), and his TV appearances as an airline safety expert, as well as accolades from Presidents Bush and Obama and being grand marshall of the Rose Parade have resulted in him being labelled a “Jimmy Stewart, aw shucks, kinda guy.” Since Stewart is no longer with us, Tom Hanks (who played astronaut Jim Lovell in Apollo 13), is perfectly cast as Sully. Presented within the setting of the FAA investigation, the story is told in flashbacks. What we learn is that except for the Canada geese disabling the jet engines, everyone involved in flight 1549 did what they were trained to do. . “I’ve got to thank my crew,” Sully says in testimony, “in the plane and on the ground. Everyone did their job.”
4 pieces of “just doing our jobs” toast

Complete Unknown (R)
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Michael Shannon, Kathy Bates, Azita Ghanizada, Danny Glover
Directed By: Joshua Marston
Like the multi-faced con-man in Catch Me If You Can, the woman played by Rachel Weisz is, just like this film’s title, such a chameleon that she is a Complete Unknown. The opening sequence showcases her as an E.R. nurse, a magician’s assistant, a button-downed office worker and a free-spirited hippie. Her latest identity is that of a lab-coated scientist intent on having a meeting with an environmental lobbyist who, it turns out, knew her when she was someone else. Only semi-happily married, the man arranges a date, swhere the pair pontaneously assume the role of doctors when a dog walker injures her leg. They then spend the day walking and chatting about this and that. The script was written by Julian Sheppard and the film’s director and the sudden shift from a mystery to a scenic romance seems like a plot device. Things aren’t helped by the audience figuring out the secrets way before the people onscreen
2 and 1/2 pieces starts well but falters half-way toast

Mia Madre (R)
Starring: Margherita Bey, John Turturro, Santella, Giulia Lazzarini, Nanni Moretti, Beatrice Mancini
Director: Nanni Moretti
Filmmakers love to make movies about making films. Mia Madre has all of the quirks we have come to expect in this genre: the movie-within-the movie; the behind the camera dynamics between director and actors; the real-life dramas (like a dying mother) that become part of the script; the purposeful shift in tone as characters try out different ways to present their roles. Director Nanni Moretti likes to play with the audience—abruptly shifting from reality to a dream, to a scene with the same actors where they are acting before the on-screen camera, and then acting before the unseen camera in this film. Even though John Turturro has a lot of fun playing the American “star,” the end result comes across like a film school experiment that doesn’t create a satisfying whole.
2 and 1/2 pieces of film-within-a film-within-a-dream, without-reality toast

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (PG-13)
Starring: Elon Musk, Leonard Kleinrock, Lucienne Walowicz, Sebastian Thrun, Lawrence Krauss, Kevin Mitnick
Director: Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog’s self-narrated documentaries are famous for their eccentric bits (like the alligator hunting side trip in his Cave of Forgotten Dreams). So the fact that Herzog doesn’t understand the internet or have a cell phone makes his exploration of the World Wide Web both marvelous and exasperating. He begins in a closet-like room at UCLA where the internet was “born” as a tool for the U.S. military and follows this with a series of semi-connected explorations into video games, immoral internet trolls who harass a family with horrific photos of their daughter’s death, the preparations for a one-way trip to Mars (“I would go,” Herzog announces), and a discussion with the billionaire maker of electric cars and recyclable spaceships.
3 pieces of you either like Herzog or you don’t toast

The Wild Life (PG-13)
Starring the voices of: Yuri Lowenthal, David Howard, Joey Camen
Director: Vincent Kesteloot
Perhaps the Belgian animators who made this bomb of a movie should have reread Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe before they decided to create a movie for kids. The source material has all these pesky bits about cannibalism, mutineers, a hero whose wealth comes from his slave-based plantation, capturing, transporting and selling humans as slaves, fighting and killing ravenous wolves, and the boredom of a man alone on an island without even a soccer ball to talk to. The filmmakers avoid all of these problems by ignoring them and casting two cats as the villains. The also use a parrot as the narrator, and inexplicably rename Crusoe’s “servant” Tuesday. The astoundingly exciting 3-minute sequence in the lava tubes is the only thing worth watching in the whole movie—but you can probably find that clip on YouTube.
1 piece of what were they thinking (or were they thinking at all?) toast