Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 1/05/18

Call Me By Your Name (R)
Starring: Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlberg, Amira Cesar, Esther Garrel, Victoire Du Bois
Directed by: Luca Guadagnino
Researchers note that 17 is the age of peak male sexuality, and Elio (Timothee Chalamet) personifies that biological fact. Self-absorbed, the youngster dabbles in composing music for guitar and piano, and has a girlfriend he visits when it suits his fancy. He lives in a lovely Italian villa with his parents, where his archeologist father hires a 24-year-old all-American-male (Armie Hammer), as his summer-time assistant. At first, Elio ignores the newcomer, but they share common interests and eventually become friends, and it is Elio who actively pursues the “with benefits” part of the friendship. James Ivory wrote the screenplay from Andre Aciman’s 2007 novel, and director Luca Guadagnino artfully evokes the steamy undercurrents that pluck all five senses. The actors are perfectly cast—Chalamet aggressively naive, Hammer older, wiser, and willing to allow time and space for things to evolve naturally. The result is a masterpiece of languid flawlessness that lingers in the mind and makes us ask, “Was that real?”
4 pieces of “coming-of-age” Romanza-style toast

Molly’s Game (R)
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Kevin Costner, Idris Elba, Michael Cera, Chris O’Dowd, Bill Camp
Directed by: Alexander Sorkin
The “Game” is an illegal, high-stakes party which came to be known as “the richest poker game in the world.” “Molly” is the former competitive skier who sets up and manages things. The screenwriter/director is the master of steadi-cam conversations, Aaron Sorkin. The real-life players included Ben Affleck, Tobey Maguire and Leonardo Di Caprio, and part of the fun is trying to match the actors in the movie with those movie actors. The real-life downers include the Russian mob and various agencies of the U.S. Government. Utilizing clever editing techniques, the games we witness are much more interesting than the the watching-paint-dry dullness of TV poker. In contrast, the talking-head encounters between Molly and her father and her attorney come across as overly scripted (do people really talk in Sorkin’s signature tempo?), and the “let the chips fall where they may” ending reminds me of the failing of most other movies about smart and sassy female entrepreneurs. Following the male-centered tropes of Film Noir, a woman like Molly must inevitably crash and burn, or the patriarchy would be disturbed.
3 pieces of catch this for Jessica Chastain’s performance toast

I, Tonya (R)
Starring: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Julianne NIcholson. Paul Walter Hauser, Bobby Canavale
Directed by: Craig Gillespie
Tonya Harding (the trailer-trash figure skater who convinced her ex-husband to cripple her skating rival, Nancy Kerrigan), is presented in pseudo-documentary style as a misunderstood “victim” of a verbally and physically abusive mother, boyfriend and star-making system. Undeniably talented (Tonya was the first woman skater to perform a triple axel in competition), her demons were carried very close to the surface. The enormity of contemplating, planning and executing Kerrigan’s ending career is presented as a mere “blip” in Tonya’s self-centered, egotistical search for the limelight. Worst of all, the scenes of domestic abuse are presented as “black humor.
1 piece of Alison Janney’s performance as Tonya’s sociopathic mother is Oscar-worthy (but not worth sitting through everything else) toast