Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Release For the Week of 12/30/16
Starring: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, Stephen Henderson, Mykeleti Williamson
Director: Denzel Washington
In the mid-80‘s, James Earl Jones personified Troy, the angry, powerful father-figure in the Broadway version of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Fences. Now, after numerous stage performances in the same role, Denzel Washington directs and plays Troy as an angry, powerful, yet affable father. Troy’s anger comes from the bitterness of being a former “star” in baseball’s Negro League yet being to old to play in the “Big Leagues” after Jackie Robinson broke the “color barrier.” He toils as a garbage man to pay the bills on the house with a cement-paved backyard where he mixes charm and violence to intimidate his long-suffering wife of 20 years, his 2 boys from different mothers, and his brain-injured, war-vet, brother. Denzel directs Oscar-worthy performances from the entire ensemble.
4 pieces of Great American Theater toast
Still In Theaters For the Week of 12/30/16
Starring: Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Sunny Pawar, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham
Director: Garth Davis
The emotional minefield of an adoptee searching out his birth-mother is brilliantly portrayed in Garth Davis’ new film, Lion. An India-born 5-year-old boards the wrong train, and ends up in a Kolkata orphanage and is adopted by Tasmanian parents. Flash-forward to when the now grownup boy uses Google Maps to track down his birthplace—and his lost mother. Astoundingly acted, directed, written and photographed, this is one of the year’s best!
4 pieces of “Black Hole of Calcutta” and “Tasmanian Devil” toast
La La Land (PG-13)
Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, J.K. Simmons,
Director: Damien Chazell
With Debbie Reynolds’ death, Singin’ In the Rain movie clips are everywhere. The La La Land movie musical story involves a “guy” (a jazz pianist who wants to open his own club) and a “girl” (an aspiring actress who works in the Warner Brothers Studio commissary) and opens with a boffo production number literally “dancing on the overpass.” Emma Stone shines as the “girl,” and Ryan Gosling tries hard to keep in step with Mandy Moore’s flamboyant choreography as the “guy.” They used to advertise movie musicals as a “welcome escape from reality,” and who doesn’t need a 2 hour and 8 minute dose of escape nowadays?
3 and 1/2 pieces of “let’s put on a show” toast
Manchester By the Sea (R)
Starring: Casey Affleck, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams, Gretchen Mol, Lucas Hodges
Directed By: Kenneth Lonergan
When a family crisis forces a Boston condo custodian to head “home,” he must cope with instantly becoming a pseudo-parent for his sarcastic high-school-aged nephew while longing to return to the safe-haven of his rent-free, studio apartment. Unlike many family dramas, instead of focusing on screaming interchanges between family members, writer/director Kenneth Lonergan infuses the quiet moments with words and facial expressions that convey the subtle subtexts of what is happening onscreen.
4 pieces of Kleenex required for the tragic ending toast
Starring: Natalie Portman, Billy Crudup, John Hurt, Caspar Phillipson
Director: Pablo Larrain
For the youngsters among you who don’t know, the single name “Jackie” identified First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy long before the historic “day in Dallas” when her husband, President John F. Kennedy, was shot and killed. Director Pablo Larrain recreates that fateful day (and the somber minutes, hours and days that follow), with nuanced artistry in this masterful collaboration with screenwriter Noah Oppenheim, cinematographer Stephane Fontaine, composer Mica Levi and lead actor, Natalie Portman.
4 pieces of inner strength, grace and courage toast