Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 7/07/17
The Big Sick (R)
Starring: Kumail Nanjani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anapum Kher, Zenobia Shroff
Directed by: Michael Showalter
A movie reworking an ethnic stand-up comic’s routines isn’t new. Neither is a film about an ill girlfriend in a critical care ward. However, in The Big Sick, with a script by Kumail Nanjani and his real-life sick girlfriend, Emily V. Gordon, the onscreen charisma of Nanjani and his “playing Emily” costar Zoe Kazan, and crisp direction by Michael Showalter, everything clicks. The story is about a Pakistani-born comic who meets the aforementioned girlfriend at one of his Chicago gigs, falls for her hook, line and sinker, but can’t muster the courage to tell his traditional matchmaking parents about Emily. She gets mad and leaves, and then ends up hooked to the machines in intensive care that go PING. Both sets of parents have aspirations for their grown-up kids, and Anapum Kher and Zenobia Shroff and Ray Romano and Holly Hunter play these parents to perfection. Laid out in linear fashion, the plot doesn’t seem to have many places for laughs, but in the hands of these masters, it’s a rom-com filled with humor, laughter (and a few tears), and well worth your time and money.
3 and 1/2 pieces of a great rom-com made from real-life toast
Starring: Kate Blanchett, Erika Bauer, Carl Dietrich
Director: Julian Rosefelt
The 13 readings that Cate Blanchett performs in Manifesto, were originally presented in museums as an “art installation”by Julien Rosefeldt. Within the protected confines of a museum, all 13 pieces were read aloud on 13 different screens playing simultaneously. The resulting cacophony forced those who cared enough to try to understand a certain piece to find the “sweet spot” where they could hear enough from one screen to make it understandable. Realizing that this doesn’t work in a darkened theater where the audience is confined to a specific seat for 95 minutes, Cate Blanchett’s performances are presented one-at-a-time. This film is obviously not for everyone, but for those who do chose to devote their attention in this manner, the best bits do provide food for discussions.
2 pieces of arty for the sake of being so toast
Spider-Man: The Homecoming (PG-13)
Starring:Tom Holland, Michel Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomai, Jacob Batalon
Directed by: Jon Watts
Proudly plunked in the middle of Marvel’s income-churning multiverse, Spider-Man is played endearingly as a high school kid with superpowers. Most of his chums have been cast to look age-appropriate, the in-school drama would work in a John Hughes film, the cameos by other Marvel super heroes actually make sense, the pacing, plotting, and whiz-bang CG FX are astounding, and then there’s Michael Keaton. I have written before how this very talented guy doesn’t get the respect he deserves. Well, he is perfect as the winged villain named Vulture. In fact, he steals the movie every time he appears onscreen.
3 pieces of popcorn entertainment for everyone toast
47 Meters Down (PG-13)
Starring: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine
Directed by: Johannes Roberts
A couple of American girls vacationing in Mexico climb into an underwater shark cage to dangle at the end of a cable and marvel at the Finding Nemo wonder of it all. Susprisingly (I write with irony), there is a technical problem, and the cage plunges to the deep-dark bottom. And I do mean dark. Except for the circling sharks. They somehow manage to be visible despite the lack of sunlight 154 feet under the sea. This rip-off of ideas from “Shark Week,” pays scant attention to the pesky little details of diving to that depth including the biotrauma brought on by 470 atmospheres of pressure on the human body. And then there is the air in the tanks. Because of the depth, the girls will use up all of their oxygen in under 28 minutes. Problem is, the film runs an hour past the time they would be dead. Of course they could die less quickly a mere 7 meters below the surface, but who would pay to see a move called “7 Meters Down”?
1 and 1/2 pieces of shark science and human biology ignored once again toast