Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 11/25/16
Starring: Auli’i Cravahlo, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Nicole Scherzinger
Director: Ron Clements, John Musker, Chris Williams, Don Hall
Using Pacific Island voice talents and heightened sensitivity to Polynesian heritages, Disney has created a fable of a strong, powerful and mystically-guided teen heroine who boldly goes where no woman has gone before. Moana communes with the ocean itself to venture into the deep and dangerous waters beyond the reef on a quest to retrieve the goddess Te Fiti’s heart from the powerful and mischievous demi-god, Maui. Along the way she must grapple with the responsibilities of being the chief’s daughter, ferocious coconut warriors, voracious crabs and the lava monster, Taka. The animation is masterful, the songs (by Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda and Samoan musician Opetaia Foa’i) are whistle-worthy, and the characters are much more positive than Elsa, the wildly popular selfishly vindictive snow princess from Frozen. So enter the theater with your heart and soul and inner child ready to embrace and revel in the totality of this outstanding film.
4 pieces of Polynesian paradise toast
Eagle Huntress (G)
Narrated by: Daisy Ridley Starring: Aisholpan Nurgaiv, Rhys Nurgaiv, Kuksyegyen Almagul
Directed By: Kelly Freeman Craig
Girl-power is alive and well in this timeless story of a Mongolian girl who conquers a steep mountainside to capture a baby eaglet and train it for hunting wild foxes. The meme of a teenage female going against traditions to acquire skills and perform tasks formerly limited to males isn’t new (i.e. Whale Rider, Brave, Moana, Mulan, etc.) but the familiarity of the storyline, contrasted with the ancient other-worldliness of the Mongolian lifestyle where an eagle whose wingspan is wider than the outspread arms of her trainer, provides an extraordinary movie experience.
3 and 1/2 pieces of eagle’s flight toast
Rules Don’t Apply (R)
Starring: Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, MAtthew Broderick, Martin Sheen, Candice Bergen, Alden Ahrenreich, Lily Collins
Director: Warren Beatty
Warren Beatty directs and stars in another of his failed attempts at making a coherent film. The certifiably insane inventor, aviator, womanizer and philanthropist Howard Hughes is the focus of this biopic, and it’s almost impossible not to make a comparison between the egocentric star and the egocentric character he plays. The fact that four editors are listed in the credits underlines the obviously muddled mess this film was before it was released, and anyone forced to sit through the 126 minutes should get a free popcorn and drink just for sticking it out to the end. My suggestion? Save your money and go watch Martin Scorcese’s The Aviator with Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes instead. The crash sequence through the roofs of Beverly Hills mansions is worth the price of admission all by itself.
1 piece of bloated, bumbling, bomb of a biopic toast
Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Lizzy Caplan
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis
In what should have been a nail-biting espionage thriller, Brad Pitt plays an amalgam of the character he played in Inglorious Basterds and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. This time, he is a Canadian intelligence officer “married” to a French resistance fighter tasked with eliminating the Nazi ambassador in Casablanca. (Before you ask, the couple appear unaware of the famous motto “everyone goes to Rick’s” from the far superior 1942 film bearing the city’s name). The first half is fast-paced and romantic, but in the sombre second half, the couple live in London with their baby, until their life of domestic bliss is shattered when he is told that she is a Nazi double agent who he must assassinate. The result is an audience leaving the movie theater in a downer of a mood at a time when happy endings would do much more for our morale.
2 pieces of why did they think this was a good idea? toast
Nocturnal Animals (R)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhall, Amy Adams, Isla Fisher, Arnie Hammer, Laura Linney, Michael Sheen
Directed By: Tom Ford
I’ll try to some this film up in one sentence: “An unhappily married, close to broke L.A. art gallery owner receives a novel manuscript from her ex-husband which opens up flashbacks to her former life in grad school interspaced with scenes from the novel shown as a movie-within-a-movie about a family terrorized by sadistic thugs and leading to kidnapping, rape, murder and retribution.” If this appeals to you, I must admit that—if you pay attention, this convoluted series of back-and-forth does make sense.
1 and 1/2 pieces of unnecessarily violent with females as victims toast
Bad Santa II (R)
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Tony Cox, Octavia Spencer
Directed By: Mark Waters
The lecherous, rum-soaked, safecracker who poses as a department store Santa Claus to enable him to steal from department stores after-hours is back—but with none of the zingers, inspired characterizations and profane fun of the Coen Brother’s polished script doctoring. The result is a pastiche of failed suicides, a brittle as shattered glass, feared and hated mother, and the ill-planned and mean-spirited $2 million theft from the friendly, helpful charity. In other words, it’s a big fat lump of coal for the holidays.
1 piece of unnecessary and unfunny sequel toast