Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 11/24/17
Starring the voices of: Anthony Gonzales, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Rene Victor, Jaime Camil, Gabriel Iglesias, Ana Ofelia Murgula, Edward James Olmos
Directed by: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
When Pixar writer/director Adrian Molina’s brainchild, Coco was released in Mexico on the recent Dia de los Muertas (Day of the Dead), the film about a musically-gifted 12-year-old boy who runs away from his “no-music-allowed” home and stumbles into a parallel universe-de-muertos populated by humorous skeletons and prophetic spirit-animals quickly became Mexico’s highest-grossing film of all time. Coco’s problem is that he must find his way back to the land of the living before the day is done, or be stuck with the dead ones forever. Sounds simple enough, except there are so many distractions for a music-obsessed youngster. Every being on the other side loves to create and play music including his feisty, long dead, great, great, great grandmother Imelda, the charismatic troubador, Hector, who willingly agrees to help Coco—but still must stop occasionally to sing a song or three, a very friendly stray dog named Dante, and Miguel’s favorite musician Ernesto de la Cruz—a 1940’s crooner killed by a freak accident with a church bell. The opening scenes are crammed full of exposition, but once they are liberated from the constraints of the conventional “real-world,” the animators have created a masterpiece of wild sights and sounds where the “other side” appears to be a happy, and very musical place to be.
3 and 1/2 pieces of an enjoyable holiday treat toast
Starring: Margaret Qualley, Melissa Leo, Julianne Nicholson, Rebecca Devan, Dianna Agron, Denis O’Hare, Morgan Saylor
Directed by: Margaret Betts
Set in the supposedly simpler times of 1964, Margaret Betts’ film Novitiate shows us the reality of living a sequestered, religious life through the eyes of a novice sister. “I wanted an ideal love, a love I have to give everything to,” Cathleen tells us in voice-over. The historical timing dictates that the centuries old Catholic traditions will be dramatically altered by the sea-changes brought about by Vatican II. So who will be able to adapt to these changes most easily? The new wide-eyed novices, or the disciplinarian, old-school, Mother Superior?
3 pieces of “behind the walls” toast
Roman J. Israel Esq. (PG-13)
Starring: Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Shelley Henig, Carmen Elogo,
Directed by: Dan Gilroy
This is what happens when Roman J. Israel Esq., the behind-the-scenes “brains” of a 2-man civil rights criminal defense team is forced our of his comfort zone. When Israel’s long-time partner falls into a coma, George Pierce, a greedy, fast-talking millionaire takes over the practice and is obligated to find a place for the shoddily-dressed, afraid of public speaking, legal encyclopedia. Despite the fatal flaw of believing that the court system can actually provide Justice (with a capital J), Pierce makes a place for Israel—until a client dies in jail. This forces Israel to begin intensive soul-searching and conclude that the shades of grey are too numerous to annotate. Then he meets a feisty female community organizer who reminds him of his crusading former partner, and it’s back on the side of righteousness. Director Dan Gilroy presents things in a step-by-step progression so the audience knows what is happening—until things start veering off in wildly different directions. Then, confusion reigns as characters who we thought believed one thing, turn out to believe the opposite. Denzel Washington tries his best to hold the film together, but in the end the audience becomes bored by the goings-on.
1 and 1/2 pieces of see it for Denzel’s performance otherwise its “meh” toast
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (R)
Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Peter Dinklage
Directed by: Martin McDonagh
The creator of the violent dark comedy In Bruges brings his singular talent as writer/director to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The billboards in the title are being used by a distraught mother who is P-O’d that the local police chief has done nothing to solve her daughter’s rape, murder and incineration. Turns out. the Chief is obsessed with his impending death from cancer, so he lets his bigoted, mamma’s boy protege take over the case. As played by the Fargo Oscar winner Frances McDormond, the dead girl’s mother is less than pleased by this and soon lets everyone know of her displeasure in a series of profanity-laced outbursts. Everyone involved in this project is top-shelf and there are numerous Oscar buzzes for the film, the players, the screenplay etc. etc.
3 and 1/2 pieces of never underestimate the fury of a wounded mother toast