Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 4/07/17
Personal Shopper (R)
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Nora van Waldstatten, Lars Eidinger, Anders Danielsen Lie
Director: Olivier Assayas
In today’s high-tech world, spiritual mediums no longer have to consult a crystal globe in a dark room. Instead, they just tap an app icon to communicate with dead people by smart-phone. In this film, a spiritualist pays her bills by being a “Professional shopper” for a Scandinavian actress, while spending the rest of her time waiting for her dead brother to make contact. He died young from a heart attack, and, according to his sister, was also a medium. So when a series of invasive text messages appear, she thinks they are from her dead brother, while any other intelligent woman would think they are from a hacker/stalker. So the disbelief suspended for an audience to enjoy the grief and languid ennui Kristen Stewart presents under Olivier Assayas direction depends on how paranoid you are about using your smart phone.
3 pieces of increasingly compelling toast
Starring: Paula Beer, Pierre Niney, Anton von Lucke, Marie Gruber
Directed by: Francois Ozon
In the aftermath of WWI, a young woman mourning her fiance’s death-in-battle spots a handsome Frenchman laying flowers on the German soldier’s grave. It turns out, that as boys, the two young men went to the same Parisian boarding school and played violins together. Building upon the melodrama of such an encounter, director Francis Ozon cajoles the audience into thinking they are watching a romantic film only to find themselves deep within a Hitchcock-style mystery. Filmed mostly in black-and-white, color sequences wash across the screen at times as if to make us sit up, and pay close attention.
3 pieces of the French New Wave is alive and well toast
Going In Style (PG-13)
Starring: Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, Ann-Margret, Matt Dillon, Christopher Lloyd, Siobhan Fallon Hogan
Director: Zach Braff
Three exceptional actors of “a certain age” join forces in this remake of the 1979 comedy of the same name. The story has been “updated,” but the plot remains the same—three old codgers plan an elaborate heist to get back money which, if morality trumped reality, is rightfully theirs. The joy is watching these three play off each other in various situations (i.e. shmoozing the pretty waitress, canoodling with the sexy 70-something jazz fan, and sparring with the disbelieving cop), is what makes this blatantly formulaic film into something quite enjoyable.
3 pieces of seniors rule! toast
Starring: McKenna Grace, Chris Evans, Octavia Spencer, Lindsay Duncan, Jenny Slate
Directors: Marc Webb
In a throwback to those Bachelor Father sitcoms, a hunky, beer-drinking Floridian became his niece’s sole caregiver after her MIT-mathematician mother committed suicide. This cute, cuter, cutest girl is suddenly old enough to go to school, but the kindly neighbor lady is worried that academia will discover that the youngster is a (Pick one, A. Mutant, B. Alien, C. Math Genius) and incarcerate her in a government facility. If you picked “C. Math Genius,” you are correct, but like films about mutants and/or aliens, the tropes are similar. Sides are taken over the nature-nurture conflict of “mainstreaming a math genius,” or encouraging their abilities in a “protected environment.” There’s the required court case, revelations that the hunky guy and the girl’s first-grade teacher are lovers, and that he is a former philosophy professor. WARNING: The King Soloman court decision at the end won’t please anyone, and any attempt to market this as a rom-com is destroyed in the process.
2 pieces of see it for McKenna Grace as the cute little girl toast
Smurfs: The Lost Village (R)
Starring the voices of: Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson, Mandy Patinkin, Julia Roberts, Michelle Rodriguez
Directors: Kelly Asbury
I won’t be giving away any secrets if I let you know why Smurfette (and all female Smurfs) don’t have names that designate their occupations like the guys do i.e. Poppa Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Nosey Smurf, etc.. It’s because Smurfette can be “anything she wants to be!” Consider this information as a free gift allowing you to avoid taking youngsters to this latest bit of uninspired treacle from Sony Pictures Entertainment. The minimalist plot involves Smurfette and a few of her pals avoiding the Evil Gargamel in the Forbiddden Forest as they search out the “Lost Village” in the title. Turns out, the village is a matriarchal society where females with names like Smurfwillow, Smurfblossom, and even the feisty Smurfstorm do whatever they want to do. Now just imagine what that “whatever” turns out to be!
1 and 1/2 pieces of “Am I Blue?” toast