Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 11/18/16
Movies Change Lives
You should check out two things involving SRJC Media Instructor and Interdisciplinary scholar Tony Kashani’s Movies Change Lives book. I interviewed Dr. Kashani on my Word By Word: Conversations With Writers radio show on KRCB FM where we chatted about films that can be transforming. Check out the podcast Here: http://media.krcb.org/podcasts/word_by_word/WBW_11.13.16.mp3
Tony will also be reading from his book at the Apple Box Café, 224 B St. Downtown Petaluma Saturday, November, 19, from 2 pm to 4 pm
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (PG-13)
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Collin Farrell, Dan Fogler, Exra Miller, Samantha Morton
Director: David Yates
From the inventive mind of J.K. Rowling comes Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a tale of a British wizard (Eddie Redmayne) arriving in the middle of the Jazz Age in New York City circa 1926 smuggling a suitcase overstuffed with growling mystical beasties through customs. When (surprise surprise) some of these creatures escape, the mild-mannered wizard must find his way around and through flappers, speakeasies, machine guns and a cadre of witch-hating naysayers using only quietly whispered words of tenderness and love. It’s a magical ride, with parallels easily made about a time and place which openly despises newly arrived immigrants and their old-fashioned, secretive manners and muddles.
3 and 1/2 pieces of J.K Rowling fare with grown ups toast
Edge of Seventeen (R)
Starring: Haille Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgewicke, HAyden Szeto, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner
Directed By: Kelly Freeman Craig
Hailee Steinfeld shines as Nadine, the angst-imbued teenager who we first meet when she announces to her history teacher that she’s going to commit suicide. Through flashbacks, we get a self-centered point-of-view of the forces which shaped this girl into the distressed human being she is today. We see the relationship with her older, nearly perfect brother, her single mother, her teachers, and her classmates including the Best Friend Forever who recently announced she wants nothing to do with Nadine. Everyone involved in making this film is top-notch, and although nothing profoundly new is presented, this black comedy manages to let us learn to like and care about the annoying, whiny, self-obsessed teenaged girl people call Nadine. And this is no small accomplishment.
3 and 1/2 pieces of updated John Hughes-style toast
Bleed for This (R)
Starring: Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Katie Segal, Ciaran Hinds
Director: Ben Younger
Boxing seems to be like catnip for filmmakers—they can’t stay away from it. The latest film about a fellow who earns acclaim for pummelling other men for sport, topples from the pinnacle (due to an auto accident this time) and attempts an against-the-odds comeback, focuses on a Providence, R.I. fellow nicknamed the “Pazmanian Devil.” (Don’t bother searching for the whereabouts of Pazmania, it’s just Vinny Pazienza’s nickname). Derivative as all get out, (Aaron Eckhart plays the rumpled trainer) this film will only achieve notoriety for being bumped from a 2015 release because of the competition in that year from Hands of Stone, Southpaw, and Creed.
2 pieces of yet another boxing movie toast
Billy Linn’s Long Halftime Walk (R)
Starring: Joe Alwyn, Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Garrett Hedlund, Steve Martin, Chris Tucker
Directed By: Ang Lee
In 2004, when the Iraq War was in full swing, the survivors from Bravo Squad walk onto a football field as part of the Thanksgiving Day halftime entertainment. Filmmaker Ang Lee uses high-speed cameras and projectors to infuse the movie with astoundingly visceral High-Def images of realistic life-and-death firefights juxtaposed with the carnival atmosphere and brand-name hucksterism of the halftime show. Sadly, the technological wizardry dictates the camera shots and drama and the end result is a mediocre story-line presented in crystal-clear imagery.
2 pieces of technologically innovative toast
Starring: Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Michael Shannon
Directed By: Jeff Nichols
There is a TV ad which depicts pictures of an interracial couple’s life together from when they were kindergarten age, adolescents, college kids, parents and now greying grownups, but the normalcy of these scenes used to be illegal. Jeff Nichols’ new film Loving shows what happened to one rural Virginia couple (Richard and Mildred Loving), who got married in Washington D.C. and then moved back home to a state where their interracial marriage (miscegnation) made them lawbreakers. We watch when the local sheriff breaks into their home in the middle of the night, handcuffs them and places them under arrest. This arrest takes adecade to travel through the courts, but in a landmark 1967 decision the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Lovings, (and all other mixed-race couples) have the right to marry whomever they chose. Presented in an amazingly restrained manner, this film honors those who struggled against injustice.
3 pieces history’s noble heroes toast