Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 9/30/16
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (PG-13)
Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Ella Purnell, Alison Janney, Terrence Stamp, Rupert Everett, Judi Dench, Samuel L. Jackson
Directed By: Tim Burton
An old, crumbling building on a mysterious island once was the site of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. As 16-year-old Jacob explores the ruins, he discovers the supposedly long-dead residents not only possessed supernatural powers, but are still “alive” in a parallel time-warp. Of course not all superheroes can run faster than a speeding bullet, leap buildings in a single bound, and bend steel with their bare hands. Some, like the time-frozen children in this film have an extra mouth filled with sharp teeth on the backs of their heads, are immune to all poisons, can bring dead things back to life, see the future in their dreams, or be invisible all the time. The set-up in the first half is slow, but the last part is Tim Burton at his most Burtonesque.
3 pieces of the pay-off’s in the last half toast
Deepwater Horizon (NR)
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Dylan O’Brian, Gina Rodriguez, Kate Hudson
Directed By: Peter Berg
We all remember the news stories about the flaming oil derrick in the Gulf of Mexico, and the oil-soaked beaches and wildlife in the aftermath, but this film takes us up-close-and-personal with the men and women caught up in the immediacy of the deadly explosion—instantaneous decisions that created heroes “just doin’ my job.” Shot like a disaster film, we are introduced to the characters (dedicated father, husband and chief electronics tech, seasoned, unflappable crew chief, penny-pinching corporate executive, etc) and told about the “tremendous pressures” contained by us puny humans before the explosion takes place. The accident itself is a special effects tour-de-force, the terrors of being trapped on a blazing, melting metal platform in the middle of an ocean, and the seemingly impossible rescues will have you sitting on the edge of your seat and biting your nails at the same time.
3 pieces of a “classic disaster movie” based on a real disaster toast
Queen of Katwe’ (NR)
Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, Madina Nalwanga
Director: Mira Nair
Teen-aged Phiona and her brother sell maize (corn) on the streets of Katwe, Uganda and seems destined to remain in poverty until she learns how to play chess—and win. Mentored by a local teacher, the girl’s skill astounds everyone who sees her play. It’s a long way from homelessness in a rural community infected with lawless motorcycle-riding thugs searching for their latest girl to “conquer” and the staid, subdued formality of international chess matches. Director Mira Nair shines at drawing astounding performances from the youngsters in this uplifting and entertaining film.
3 pieces of check and checkmate toast
Author: The J.T. LeRoy Story (NR)
Starring: Winona Ryder, Courtney Love, Terry Gross, Bruce Benderson, Laura Albert
Director: Jeff Feurzig
Don’t believe everything you read (or hear). Ten years ago, an expose in the New York Times revealed that the boy who wrote celebrated novels and short stories about his troubled life as a drug-addicted street hustler didn’t really exist. The articles were, in fact, written by a 40-something phone-sex worker in San Francisco named Lura Albert who conducted phone interviews in the lad’s voice, and hired her boyfriend’s sister to play J.T. LeRoy in public. When the truth was revealed, reactions to the so-called “hoax” immediately ratcheted up into overkill mode. Jeff Feurzig’s documentary includes interviews with some of the celebrities who were “duped” while providing Laura Albert a second chance at “fame.”
2 pieces of hoaxes are odd ducks toast
Starring: Zach Galafanikis, Jason Sudeikis, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Owen Wilson, Leslie Jones
Director: Jared Hess
A minimum-wage armored-truck driver hauls sacks of money each day until his sorta girlfriend co-worker hatches a plan involving her inept friends and relatives: “Lets steal the money.” The driver manages to acquire $17 million and unwisely hands it over to the gang for “safe-keeping” before he hides out in Mexico. Lavish spending quickly draws the attention of those who want to know, and the driver becomes the target for cops and a gangland hit-man as he dons one frightful wig after another to keep his identity secret while creating improbable schemes to get even with the gang. I had the feeling that all the “stars” involved threw their “great ideas” at a director who wasn’t strong enough to say “No.”
2 pieces of too many “cooks” involved toast
The Dressmaker (R)
Starring: Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Hugo Heaving, Liam Hemsworth, Kerry Fox
Director: Jocelyn Morehouse
A woman who learned her dressmaking skills in the world of Parisian high fashion returns to the dusty hometown where her neighbors are still convinced she had “something to do” with the death of the rich, teen-aged boy who bullied her. She quickly elevates the town’s fashion sense, while setting tongues wagging again about the “unseemly” relationship with the hunky guy in the trailer, and the skeletons uncovered by the local police sergeant. Played at first as a dark comedy, the film devolves into violence and leaves a sour taste.
1 and 1/2 pieces of starts well but ends badly toast