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

Into the Forest (R)
Starring: Ellen Page, Evan Rachel Wood, Max Minghella, Callum Keith Rennie
Directed By: Patricia Rozema
Based on the novel by: Jean Hegland
I had a great conversation with Jean Hegland, the Healdsburg novelist whose quiet, post-apocalyptic book Into the Forest was the basis for this film . She told me that although the modernistic house onscreen is nothing like her vision, and they had to “cut out some things,” producer Ellen Page and screenwriter/director Patricia Rozema have done “a good job.” Jean is especially pleased that the “tone” at the end of the film is very similar to the end of her book.
2 and 1/2 pieces of sometimes it’s challenging to watch the film version of a book you love toast

Bridget Jones’ Baby (R)
Starring: Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Jim Broadbent, Emma Thompson, Sarah Solemani
Directed By: Sharon Maguire
Bridget Jones, that endearingly klutzy, face-scrunching diarist returns to the big screen with most of her personality intact in a story where her biological clock had a few more clicks before winding down. The end result is that Bridget is pregnant, and (shades of Meryl Streep’s character in Mama Mia), has two possibilities for the father. The screenplay is smart enough to have let Bridget grow into a more confident, yet still endearing character, and Zellweger is very comfortable with her persona.
3 pieces it’s fun to revisit Bridget Jones toast

Snowden (R)
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shaleene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson
Director: Oliver Stone
Anyone who has seen Oliver Stone’s fact-based movies (JFK. Nixon, Born On the Fourth of July) knows that he presents his personal vision of “what really happened” onscreen. This is especially true with Snowden, where he depicts the covert events surrounding an NSA consultant’s leaking of classified information regarding the covert spying of millions of Americans as a taut thriller instead of the very ordinary and mind-numbingly boring reality of the day-to-day work. The result is a movie where self-anointed “patriots” purposefully planned scheme to subvert laws and agency guidelines and lie about it to Congress and the American people is the real story, and a “low-level clerk” named Snowden comes across as the straw man “hero” who pulls back the curtain to tell the tale.
2 and 1/2 pieces of a drama not a documentary toast

‘Blair Witch’ (R)
Starring: Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson, Valerie Curry, James Allen McCune
Director: Adam Wingard
With slightly better cameras, the brother of a missing filmmaker and his friends unwisely head into the same Maryland forest to make a movie that is almost exactly like the first film.
Gil didn’t bother to screen this one, and suggests you avoid it too

Mr. Church (PG-13)
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Natasha McElhone, Natallie Coughlin, Britt Robertson
Director: Bruce Beresford
The Australian director who brought us Morgan Freeman as the dutiful African-American chauffeur in Driving Miss Daisy, presents Eddie Murphy in essentially the same role as the cook/caregiver for a white family. To make the story of a wealthy man who “bequeaths” his cook to his ailing lover and her family, the film is set in 1970. The stipulation of the “bequest” is that Mr. Church will be “free of any obligation” once the woman dies—but she keeps on living—for decades. I found the story of a jolly indentured servant (aka “slave”), about as palatable as Disney’s long-banned movie Song of the South, where actor James Baskett became the first African-American actor to win an Oscar for his role as the zippidy-do-dah singing storyteller, Uncle Remus. Murphy is good in this film, but until the last few minutes, he is the only Black person with a speaking part.
1 and 1/2 pieces of what is billed as “family fare” toast

Hollars (R)
Starring: John Krasinski
Director: John Krasinski, Adam Wingard
John Krasinski’s sophmore slump as director of Hollars is so saccharinely predictable, that the State of Ohio might consider erecting billboards explaining that it isn’t anything like the place portrayed onscreen. The storyline involves a New York graphic novelist returning to his Ohio hometown to care for his ailing mother, reconnect with high school friends and foes, and become the obsessive object for a former girlfriend while his current lover reveals she is pregnant. The film should be stamped with the word “INDIE” in bright, florescent colors to warn unsuspecting ticket buyers. It’s not awful (the cast is great), but it’s not that good either.
2 pieces of a story we’ve seen many times before toast