Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 7/14/17

War For the Planet of the Apes (PG-13)
Starring: Judy Greer, Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Terry Notary, Amiah Miller, Tob Kebbel, Gabriel Chavarria, Karin Konoval 
Directed by: Matt Reeves
I recently checked out the original Planet of the Apes (1968) and was struck by a couple things: First, the rubber masks the apes wore look like they came from Party City; Second, the script (written by Rod Serling and Michael Wilson from Pierre Boule’s novel), was exceptionally good, and The Twilight Zone twist at the end (with Charlton Heston discovering the Stature of Liberty ruin), became iconic. Two things strike me in Matt Reeves newly-released War for the Planet of the Apes as well. Thanks to phenomenal advances in CGI technology, and masterful motion-capture by Andy Serkis and his pseudo simian co-stars, the apes look astonishingly real. Second, the script by Director Matt Reeves and co-writer Mark Bombeck, has taken a Shakespearean approach to the horrors of war—focusing on the intensely personal moments of richly-drawn ape and human characters while battles rage on in the background. Caesar (Andy Serkis), the escaped lab experiment, is at the center of things. Uncommonly intelligent, he has evolved into an empathetic and admirable leader who strives for peaceful co-existence but is willing to have a war-to-end-all-wars between apes and humans. He is confronted by The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) an Apocalypse Now-style warrior bent on victory at all costs. The result is that rarest of all Hollywood blockbusters—an almost perfect movie
4 pieces of a Planet of the Apes movie extraordinaire toast 

Maudie (PG-13)
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke, Kari Matchett, Zachary Bennet, Gabrielle Rose
Director: Aisling Walsh
Discovered by a TV documentary, Nova Scotia folk artist Maud Lewis’ paintings of rural happiness became something to prize. Aisling Walsh’s film Maude, reveals that just beneath the surface, the painter lived a hard-scrabble wilderness cabin life with a mentally ill, miserly and abusive husband. She started working for the man in the midst of the Great Depression as a way to earn money for her paint supplies. Despite his faults, the couple marry for sex and a strange relationship constrained by “chores and obligations.” One of the delights of the film is to see Maud transform her house into a place of whimsical beauty—a Nova Scotia landmark today.
3 pieces of art as an escape to sanity toast 

The Little Hours (R)
Starring: Alison Brie, Dave Franco, Kate Micucci, Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon. Paul Reiser, Fred Armisen, Nick Offerman
Directed by: Jeff Baena
In Monty Python’s Holy Grail, Sir Galahad (Michael Palin) is lured to a remote castle where a beautiful young woman named Zoot (Carol Cleveland) explains: “Oh, I am afraid our life must seem very dull and quiet compared to yours. We are but eight score young blondes and brunettes, all between sixteen and nineteen and a half, cut off in this castle with no one to protect us! Oh, it is a lonely life — bathing, dressing, undressing, making exciting underwear…. We are just not used to handsome knights. Nay, nay, come, come, you may lie here.” Now transpose these people to a covent in the late Middle Ages and use tales from Bocaccio’s Decameron as your source material, and you have the concept for this semi-farcical film. You see, a group of passionate nuns have little opportunity for male-female experimentation until their priest provides a lustful young man on the run a safe place to hide…
3 pieces of the latest in the Nunsploitation genre toast

Wish Upon (PG-13)
Starring: Joey King, Ryan Phillippe, Shannon Purset, Sydney Park, Ki Hong Lee
Directed by: John R. Leonetti
This is a distasteful attempt to capture the magic and whimsy of classic children’s films featuring cursed objects like Gremlins and Jumanji. Instead, the filmmakers start off with a girl named Clare dumping her bike on the lawn as her mother commits suicide. Her dad reacts to his wife’s death by abandoning music, and taking on the career of a dumpster diver. Twelve years later, the bicycle is still in the exact same spot (no explanation is given for this), and Dad presents Daughter with a Chinese music box that grants wishes. When Clare squanders her wishes on getting a hunky boyfriend and tons of cash, she begins to notice that every time her wish is granted, someone close to her dies a gruesome death—which the audience is shown in vivid detail. Cheery concept, eh?
1 and 1/2 pieces of might become an after-midnight guilty pleasure with college kids toast