Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Release For the Week of 2/24/17
The Red Turtle (PG)
Starring the voices of : Michael Dudok de Wit, John-Christophe Lie, Isao Takahata, Pascale Ferran
Directed by: Michael Dudok de Wit
Michael Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle opens with a roiling, angry sea spits a battered man onto the shore. Exploring this place of refuge, the man discovers that it is an island inhabited only by birds, crabs, sea lions, and the occasional turtle. After filling his basic needs for water, food and shelter, the man constructs a bamboo raft to sail away to the safety. However the gods (in the form of an immense sea turtle) have a different plan. His escape crafts are repeatedly destroyed and the man remains a castaway. Presented without dialogue, this French-Belgian film was animated by Japan’s Ghibli Studios, and the audience soon learns that the world of this particular Robinson Crusoe isn’t quite like our own. The magical realism is emphasized by the the style of animation often adopting omniscient, omnipotent point-of-view shots from high above and far-far away. Nominated for an Oscar, this dreamlike, very original fable is quite different from others in this category.
4 pieces of astoundingly complex in its beautiful simplicity toast
Get Out (R)
Starring: Daniel Kaluula, Alison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Caleb Landry-Jones, LilRel Howery
Director: Jordan Peele
Comedian, writer, director Jordan Peele updates Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner by turning the “lets meet my White family” schtick into a Stepford Wives-style, psychological horror film. The girl has neglected to tell her parents that her boyfriend is Black, but they are okay with that, for, as the father says. “I would have voted for Obama for a third time if I could.” This is satire at its most satirical—reality stretched until it almost snaps. I really can’t say much more without spoiling the surprises. Just take my advice, and see this film as soon as you can (before that spoiler called “Twitter” lets the proverbial “cat out of the bag”).
4 pieces of guess what’s for dinner? toast
Toni Erdmann (R)
Starring: Peter Simonischek, Sandra Huller, Michael Wittenborn, Thomas Loibl, Vlad Ivanov
Directors: Maren Ade
A caustic, practical-joker of a father is distressed by his successful daughter Ines’ corporate, buttoned-down, shackled to her iPhone existence. Dad joshes that since he never has her complete attention, he should hire a “substitute daughter.” Instead, the man dons a horrible wig, crams fake teeth into his mouth, and arrives at Ines’ workplace as Toni Erdmann—from the “International Dental Design Clinic.” The rest of the film has Toni repeatedly placing Ines in one embarrassing slapstick situation after another—culminating with not one, but two highly choreographed party scenes. Your reaction to this depends on whether you have suspended your disbelief enough to buy the concept that Dad is doing all this to “help” his offspring. I quickly grew bored with the whole premise, and am not surprised that some studio wants to make an American version of this German film
2 and 1/2 pieces of way, way, too quirky for my taste toast
Rock Dog (PG)
Starring the voices of: Luke Wilson, J.K. Simmons, Eddie Izard, Lewis Black, Matt Dillon, Sam Elliot
Director: Ash Brannon
In this Chinese/American co-production, lush, hand-drawn animation is used for the opening sequence—where a pair of Tibetan mastifs are tasked with protecting a flock of mountain sheep from hungry wolves. But when a radio literally falls from the sky, Bodi, the younger dog, instantly decides to head to the big city and become a rock star. Cue the fish-out-of-water scenes, the familial duty vs. youthful dreams, scenes, the wise elder advisor scenes, and, of course, the rock club owned by the evil wolf pack scenes, and you’ve summarized most of this lackluster film. The fact that everything from the radio’s appearance is presented in flat, morning TV-show style computer animation just makes things more generic.
2 pieces of isn’t as bad as The Great Wall (last week’s Chinese/American co-production) toast