Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 12/09/16
Director: Jacques Cluzaud, Jacques Perrin
In a dramatic break with March of the Penguins style nature documentary, filmmakers Jacques Cluzaud and Jacques Perrin forego having a stentorian voice-over artfully explaining the on-screen goings-on in Seasons. Instead, they let the wild critters share their stories by acting like, well, animals! The setting is an “eat or be eaten” primeval forest unthawing from the last ice-age. During most of the 80,000 year timeline, the animals are the kings of the forest, but gradually, bipeds with opposable thumbs take charge—and alter the forest ecosystem forever. Shot over several years in the deep timber of Norway, Poland, Scotland, France, Romania and Italy, the majority of the film involves animals foraging for food—which most often means preying on other animals. The circle of life has never been more beautifully and honestly presented. With a few minor exceptions (i.e. the birth of a fawn) the filmmakers avoid Disneyfying the goings-on, and just let the wonder of nature tell how what we humans call progress, the furry critters would label destruction.
3 pieces of old forest becomes new forest toast
Office Christmas Party (R)
Starring: Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Randall Park, Olivia Munn, Courtney R. Vance, Rob Courddry
Directed By: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
Film historians will probably classify Office Christmas Party as one of the lesser-known, profanity-laced, bodily-fluids lubricated, drugs and booze fueled smuttiness known as “R-rated comedies.” The thinnest of plots involves office workers throwing a “mega” Christmas party in a desperate ploy to keep their jobs in the Chicago office of a national tech firm. In addition to the talented cast of comic actors, the reason to see this film is the over-the-top party itself. With live reindeer depositing organic fertilizer on the carpets, a snow machine that fills the air with cocaine, while chilled eggnog is dispensed from the male appendage of an ice-sculpture gnome, what could possibly go wrong?
2 and 1/2 pieces of funnier than Bad Santa 1 and 2 were toast
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Carice van Houten, Catalina Sandino, David Mazouz
Director: Brad Peyton
If you think the arcane secrets studied by symbologist Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code are obtuse, the mythological backstory resources for the demonic-possession film Incarnate could fill a small library. The priest’s job from The Exorcist has been taken by Dr. Seth Ember, a psychic scientist who looks and sounds exactly like Aaron Eckhart. Somewhere in all the volumes of research there must be an explanation of why and how this guy enters the subconscious minds of demonic victims to ostensibly banish a demon. However, all the gee-whiz stuff is just a ploy for Dr. Ember to track down Maggie, the oddly-named demoness who haunts the scientist’s dreams and takes credit for the car crash that killed his family and paralyzed his legs. Problem is, the script requires that all action sequences come to a complete stand-still while dull dialogue attempts to brief the audience on the well-documented evidence that explains stuff that should really be taken at face value.
1 piece of a demonic possession film that is dull as dishwater for the first 81 of its 91 minutes toast