Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 11/17/17

Lady Bird (R)
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Bernie Feldstein, Odeya Rush. Lucas Hedges, Lois Smith. Timothy Chalamet
Directed by: Greta Gerwig
Writer/director Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age movie, Lady Bird proves that the universality of high school angst can be fresh, alive and exciting. The title is the nick-name of a Sacramento teen attending an all girls Catholic High School. Longing to escape to New York City, Lady Bird attempts to expand her circle beyond her perpetually sunny Best-Friend, and develops an experimental crush for a boy in the all-boys Catholic school. A moody drummer soon becomes boyfriend #2, but, to Lady Bird’s dismay, he is even more disappointing than boyfriend #1. Unlike most teen movies, parents are critical to the gestalt that is Lady Bird (both the character and the movie). There are interactive scenes between mother and daughter that are miniature masterpieces in a movie filled with astoundingly well-crafted performances. This film is a winner!
4 pieces of “must see” toast

Wonder (PG)
Starring: Julia Roberts, Jacon Tremblay, Owen Wilson, Izabela Vidovic, Mandy Patinkin, Sonia Braga
Directed by: Stephen Chbosky
It is unfortunate that the JPMorgan/Chase TV ads featuring a little girl in the space helmet are airing at the same time the movie Wonder arrives in theaters. That’s because the girl wears the helmet to prove she can do anything, while the Wonder boy, Augie, wears the helmut to hide a face that, despite 27 surgeries, looks like a space alien. Home schooled, Augie’s foray to the outside world is a local fifth grade classroom where he earns straight A’s, makes a friend, provokes a bully, and provides numerous teachable moments for everyone onscreen and off.
3 pieces of everyday miracles toast

Justice League (PG-13)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Jason Mamoa, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams,
Directed by: Zack Snyder
When the oligarch Bruce Wayne allies himself with the savvy businesswoman Diana Prince, only those privy to the secrets of the DC Universe know that Batman is partnering with Wonder Woman. Meta-humans Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash join up as well to defend the planet from the doomsday-plot-of-the-week perpetuated by a very tall, CGI god named Steppenwolf from the planet Apkolips. After the success of Christopher Nolan’s 2008 Batman film The Dark Knight, The suits making decisions for the DC franchise have created darker and darker dystopian films—even killing off their biggest star—Superman. Ignoring the box office success of “lighter” films (i.e. DC’s own Wonder Woman and Marvel’s Thor: Ragnorak) this movie is (with the major exception of scenes featuring Gal Gadot), bleak, dark, gloomy, dismal, dreary, sad, cheerless (and all of the 730 other synonyms for “depressing” listed online). In short, this is a the opposite of a “feel good” movie.
1 and 1/2 pieces of is there such a thing as a “feel bad” movie? toast

The Square (NR)
Starring: Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West
Directed by: Ruben Ostlund
The modern art world serves as the stand-in punching-bag for contemporary reality in this decidedly art-house movie by Swedish director Ruben Ostlund. For example, The Square has a scene where the handsome yet chauvinistic museum curator “conquers a woman sexually attracted to power” (his words). The title comes from a museum installation—the 10-foot by 10-foot “oasis of kindness and peace” Other critics have labelled the film “Baffling,” “absurd,” “laugh-out-loud-funny,” and “just plain silly.” I’ll simply use the main character’s own words to explain what I feel about the film’ pointlessness: “The absence of something suggests the presence of it.”
1 and 1/2 pieces of Ruben Ostlund is pulling our leg toast

The Star (PG)
Starring the voices of: Steven Yeun, Kelly Clarkson, Aidy Bryant, Keeban-Michael Key, Kristin Chenoweth, Gina Rodriguez, Zachary Levi
Directed by: Timothy Reckart
This is the Christmas story told through the eyes of the donkey that provided transportation for Mary’s ride to Bethlehem. This particular version of the birth of Jesus has apparently been made for Sunday school kids who never raised their hands with a question. For example, after the opening credits declare that it is “nine month’s B.C.”, the angel Gabriel appears to tell a teen girl named Mary that she is pregnant with the Messiah. Three months later, on the night of their wedding supper, Mary tells Joseph she is “with child,” which, according to the press notes, “causes her new husband some concern.” These scenes raise a dozen obvious questions, but the movie just keeps rolling forward to ensure that there is time for all the poop jokes. One glaring mistake is the obvious white-washing of the fact that Mary and Joseph and itty-bitty-baby-Jesus are Jews. You could argue that Joseph is voiced by Zachary Levi, which sounds fine, until you discover that the Indiana-born actor (whose real last name is Pugh), labels himself “Welsh.”
1 piece of Linus tells the story better in the Peanuts Christmas Special toast