Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 10/27/17

Thor: Ragnarok (PG-13)
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch
Directed by: Taika Waititi
I’m surprised the opening music isn’t Peter, Paul and Mary singing “If I Had a Hammer,” for that is the premise of the impressive film, Thor: Ragnarok. Thor, the mighty God of Thunder and Lightning, has lost his beloved talisman and is imprisoned on the other side of the (Marvel?) universe. Meanwhile, Hela, the Goddess of Death is hastening Ragnorak (the prophesied End of Times) to Thor’s Asgard homeland. A long role of odd characters helps Thor in his mission to thwart extinction, including the Incredible Hulk, who first appears as his opponent in a kill-or-be-killed gladiatorial contest. The destructive fight is presented with the same tongue-in-cheek humor that has always made Thor a likable character, but changes the audience’s assumption that the Hulk, is just angry grimaces. Surprisingly, these two incredibly different heroes become buddies who delight in trading one-liner zingers with each other. Marvel purists will probably cringe at all the light hearted jibs and jabs, but they will love the over-the-top climax of the film. I credit screenwriter Eric Pearson and director Taika Waititi for making everything work so well.
4 pieces of much needed lightness in the often dreary Marvel Universe toast

The Florida Project (R)
Starring: Willem DeFoe, Valerie Cotto, Bria Inaite, Christopher Rivera
Director: Sean Baker
Imagine The Florida Project as a cross between the photogenic surrealism of Grand Budapest Hotel and the magical realism of Beasts of the Southern Wild, and you’re almost there. The kitchy, rainbow-hued Florida architecture of purple motels, bright orange juice stands and cone-shaped ice-cream buildings provides colorful backdrops for this through-the-eyes-of-a-child, slice-of-life movie. Writer/director Sean Baker provides just the right touch, as events which we grown-ups know are important (i.e. the R-rated realities of a single mom raising a child) receive just as much concern from the wide-eyed girl as spilling her ice cream on the floor.
4 pieces of childhood isn’t childish toast

LBJ (R)
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rich Sommer, Bill Pullman, C. Thomas Howell, Jeffrey Donovan
Directed by: George Clooney
LBJ’s Presidency was Shakespearean. Unfortunately, director Rob Reiner and his crew pay great attention to how things looked and sounded in the 60’s, and Woody Harrelson tries his darndest to make you believe that there’s more to LBJ than the prosthetic make-up, but it just isn’t presidential enough for the times we live in. Lyndon Jonhnson clearly wanted to be president and had to settle for being vice-President, but the influx of Kennedy’s ivy-leaguers to the White House placed him out of the inner circle. LBJ’s great strength was as a politician able to make things work in Congress, and when Kennedy’s assassination thrust him into office, those skills were still intact. But part of the job he inherited was Vietnam, and the split this undeclared war brought to our nation made the man in the White House yearn to return to his Texas ranch. But we need to learn more about the man than this movie provides, and, although Hollywood can make great films about make-believe Presidents, it once again falters when trying to present a real one.
2 pieces of there’s got to be more to LBJ the man than this toast

A Bad Mom’s Christmas (NR)
Starring: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Jay Hernandez, Petr Gallagher, Cheryl Hines, Christine Baranski. Susan Sarandon
Directed by: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
The foul-mouthed women known as “The Bad Moms” are back to face their worst nightmare—Christmas. You will notice I didn’t write the more inclusive “holiday season,” for that is too PC for this movie’s audience demographic. Continuing to provide the distaff side of raunchy, sexist, directed and written-by-men-for men, Hangover-style humor, the three females have to contend with three Mothers (with a capital M). Everything is presented in a cartoon-like fashion so that anyone whose offended by the offensive material can be chided with “can’t you take a joke?” Susan Sarandon plays one of the Mothers, and steals the film.
1 piece of where’s the picket lines for this one? toast