Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 2/16/18

Black Panther (PG-13)
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Michael B. Jordan, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Amgela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis, Florence Kasumba
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Outsiders consider the African nation of Wakanda to be a Third World, s*** hole of a country—but they are very, very wrong. The land is the only-place-on-Earth depository for a rare-earth, meteorite called vibranium, and decades of wise leadership has invested in a technological infrastructure so advanced, it makes other cities seem like antiques. Prince TChalla (Chadwick Boseman) returns to his homeland to assume the throne of his recently deceased father, but, as is often the case with generational transfers of power, things do not go smoothly. Five different tribes call Wakanda thome, and their leaders have different visions for the future. The new king is supported by a trio of powerful women: the all-female Special Forces leader Okoye (Danai Guirira); warrior-woman Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o); and Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright). In addition, King TChalla has a secret identity. When he dons his vibranium super-suit (more powerful than anything worn by Ironman), he becomes the Black Panther. Director/co-screenwriter Ryan Coogler has created something very special with this film. Female and male Africans are portrayed as intelligent, brave, wise, thoughtful, and politically savvy human beings, in a film that is just as intelligent—and delightfully fun to watch!
4 pieces of Black Panther’s not like anything you’ve seen before toast

Early Man (PG)
Starring the Voices of: Eddie Redmayne, Tom HIddleston, Maisie Williams, Timothy Spall, Nick Park, Richard Ayode
Directed by: Nick Park
I’ve been a fan of stop-motion guru Nick Park ever since I stumbled upon Wallace and Gromit. His latest claymation adventure literally takes us back to the “Dawn of Time,” when after catching quick little bunnies for their meals, cavemen spent most of their time taking naps. Everything seems perfect, until the members of a bronze-age tribe arrive in the valley to mine for the copper and tin that are making their leader rich. Those of us raised on the Flintstones will chuckle with familiarity at many of the historical anachronisms, but other “inventions” (like using a whirring bug to shave off whiskers) are (to use two phrases loved by ad-men), “new and improved” and “sure to please.” By adding in a Bend It Like Bekham “girls can’t play soccer” trope, and a pet wild boar named Hognob, Nick Park and his tireless crew of animators have created another winner.
3 and 1/2 pieces of quirky and quite funny historical toast

Revisiting the Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts
I wrote about this collection last week, but feel it is important to elaborate on an ethical question raised by AMPAS in their selection of Kobe Bryant’s Dear Basketball as one of the five nominees. On the surface, this short is about the NBA star’s love of basketball, but underneath, especially with the recent focus on sexual assault, it is much more. For Kobe Bryant is not only the focus of the film but also the screenwriter, narrator and executive producer of the presentation which is made and released through his own Kobe Studios. In short, I see a Kobe Bryant propaganda film, designed (with complicit help from the Oscar Shorts Committee), as part of the cover up of Kobe Bryant’s violent history with women.

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