Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 4/21/17
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, San Stevens, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson
Director: Nacho Vigalando
When a failed writer is ousted from her boyfriend’s apartment for her non-stop drinking, she returns to her parent’s empty house in New Hampshire to continue her legacy of empty bottles. A former classmate warmly greets her arrival, but she can’t recall knowing him “back then.” No matter, she willingly accepts the guy’s used furniture, and a job in his tavern where the regulars who sit at the bar serve as the Greek chorus for the rom-com goings-on. Meanwhile, over in Korea, a gigantic monster is single-handedly destroying Seoul. Strangely, the monster has the same quirky mannerisms displayed by the girl who lives so far away. Can there be a connection? Is the monster a giant metaphor? Is this movie fresh and exciting and fun to watch? Yes, yes, and yes!
3 and 1/2 pieces of the monster that dwells within us all toast
The Lost City of Z (PG-13)
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland, Sienna Miller, Angus MacFayden
Directed by: James Gray
I had a radio-show conversation with journalist David Gann who wrote the book that is the basis for this unbelievable—but true adventure tale set in Bolivia’s jungles in the aftermath of WWI. The British explorer Percy Fawcett is obsessed with a tantalizing tale of an ancient abandoned city where gigantic stone temples are engulfed by rainforest fecundity. Venturing into the jungle with cutting-edge gear made from “waterproof canvas,” his companions are his college-aged son, an aide-de-camp, a rum-soaked local guide, and a crudely drawn map. Keeping the home fires burning is Fawcett’s wife—a strong-willed woman who is certain her husband and son are still alive—despite being missing for years.
3 and 1/2 pieces of men (and a woman) to match mountains toast
The Promise (PG-13)
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale, Charlotte Le Bon, Marwan Kenzari, Angela Sarafyan, James Cromwell
Director: Terry George
Set against the horrors of the Armenian Genocide, almost nothing is mentioned of the systematic slaughter of one-and-a-half-million Armenian refugees by the Ottoman Turks. Instead, the film focuses on a love triangle that features a Hemingway-style American journalist, an Armenian medical student and lovely, world-traveling, Armenian woman. The men share the woman’s affection in a casual, Butch Cassidy—Sundance Kid style. Then Turkey aligns itself with Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria and enters into WWI. Suddenly, the screen is filled with bloody battles and exploding bodies.
2 pieces of “history” sanitized to avoid controversy toast
Born In China (G)
Narrated by: John Krasinski
Director: Chuan Lu
Real-life versions of the animals we first met in King Fu Panda movies (pandas, snow leopards, cranes, golden monkeys, etc.). populate the screen in astoundingly beautiful sequences filmed by cameras disguised as rocks, and crews of photographers willing to endure the harshest conditions. The breakout stars are the mother snow leopard, Dawa, the baby panda, Mei Mei, and the brave (and funny) golden monkey, Tao Tao. Snippets of behind-the-scenes footage tantalize us with information about how the film was made, but leave us wanting to know more. Staying true to other documentaries in the Disneynature series, the focus is on the “circle of life,” rather than dangers posed by loss of habitat or other “endangered species” threats.
3 pieces of astounding wildlife photography that ignores the opportunity for “teachable moments” toast