Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 3/17/17

Beauty and the Beast (PG)
Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Emma Thompson, Audra McDonald
Director: Bill Condon
If you wonder why Disney made a live-action version of their animated classic, the simple answer is “money.” Not content with the largesse collected from hastily-made direct to video sequels, a Broadway musical, and live-actor productions at their theme parks and even ice shows, we have this overly-hyped live-action version. Ignoring the mores and conventions of 18th Century France or 1991 America, this “updated” story must have a girl-power heroine that will resonate with today’s kids. The clunkiest transition from the original is the Beast himself. Provided with a new song and flashback illustrating his childhood love for his dying mom, he still comes across as an abusive bully. Bottom line? This overly-long, live-action Beauty and the Beast provides nostalgic fascination for people who cherish the 1991 classic, and may appeal to youngsters who don’t pay too much attention. For the rest of us, the new songs detract from the story and the whole thing has an “attach that idea with a Post-It note” feel.
2 and 1/2 pieces of wait until you can see it at home so you can fast track past those bits that don’t fit toast

Neruda (R)
Starring: Lluis Gnecco, Gael Garcia Bernal, Alfredo Castro, Michael Silva, Mercedes Moran
Directed by: Pablo LArrain
Neruda’s filmmakers seem to believe that the fantastical real-life story of the Chilean politician/poet Pablo Neruda is too unbelievable to tell without resorting to fictionalized characters and events. So, in addition to the sensuality-embracing poet and his very loving wife, we have a fictitious, by-the-book, policeman willing to use any means necessary to capture the government-labelled outlaw. The film capitalizes on Chile’s natural beauty, and the ying/yang relationship between artists and dictators, but the complex plot isn’t helped by capture and escape scenes that come across like a portly Captain Jack Sparrow vs. an ascetic Inspector Clouseau.
2 and 1/2 pieces of fictionalized artifice interferes with telling this story toast

The Sense of Ending (PG-13)
Starring: Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Billy Howie, Harriet Walter, Michelle Dockery, Emily Mortimer
Directors: Critish Batra
An older man lives a very British and orderly day-to-day life in his townhouse, and is on friendly terms with his ex-wife and soon-to-be-a single-parent daughter. However as we all know. “the best laid plans…” In a luddite homage to simpler times, the catalyst is a snail-mail letter—with references to the man’s youthful indiscretions, and the sudden arrival of a beautifully mysterious woman old enough to “remember when.” The simplicity of the film only heightens its skillfully created sense of time and place evoking the ever-present question lodged in the back of our minds: “What if?”
3 pieces of beautifully played resurrection of the past toast

The Last Word (R)
Starring: Shirley MacLAine, Amanda Seyfried, AnnJewell Lee Dixon, Anne Heche, Philip Baker Hall
Director: Mark Pellington
Shirley MacLaine tries hard, but she can’t save The Last Word from terminal boredom. She plays an aging control freak who fires her gardener and trims her own hedges because he doesn’t do it correctly, and immediately rearranges the careful work of her hairdresser. She contends with her solitary life with a valium and a bottle of good wine each evening. One of the highlights of her day, is reading the newspaper obituary column. Deciding that she needs to insure what appears in print after she is gone, the woman hires the paper’s obituary writer to create something “appropriate.” This all sounds more interesting than the dreary, unkindly approach to aging that confronts the movie-going audience.
1 piece of this is a role Shirley MacLaine once told a local audience she would “never take” toast

The Belko Experiment (R)
Starring: John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona, John C. McGinley
Directors: Greg McLean
Office workers are instructed to kill their co-workers.
Gil doesn’t screen slasher films—even if they are labelled “thought-provoking cinema”