Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 3/02/18

Red Sparrow (R)
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schonaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary Louise Parker, Jeremy Irons
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
“Modernizing” the La Femme Nikita trope by adding scenes of porno/voyeuristic kinky sex and torture, Red Sparow’s filmmakers have the gall to advertise this as a “female empowerment film.” In a nutshell, it is the calculated debasement of Dominika, a beautiful and talented Bolshoi Ballet dancer who loses everything after a graphic onstage injury. Faced with the prospect of she and her invalid mother being thrown into the streets, she agrees to help her leering uncle with “an assignment.” It turns out to be a Secret Service assassination, and the only witnesses allowed to stay alive are members of “The Agency.” Faced with the choice of “sign-up or die,” she chooses life and ends up in a torture school run by a sadistic headmistress who tells Dominika “your body belongs to the state.” After way to many scenes of gratuitous, voyeuristic sex and violence, Dominika is sent to Budapest to seduce an American spy who may (or may not) know the identity of a Russian double agent. This last bit never works, and just seems tacked on to the BDSM-themed torture-fest.
1 piece of did Jennifer Lawrence read the script before she said “yes?” toast.

Nostalgia (R)
Starring: Jon Hamm, Catherine Keener, Bruce Dern, Ellen Burstyn, John Ortiz
Directed by: Mark Pellington
With an attic and storeroom stuffed full of precious family artifacts none of my children want, I was looking forward to this movie about “crusty old-timer” and his estranged granddaughter calling in an insurance appraiser to assess the value of Hummel figurines and other family trinkets. The insurance guy quickly declares that “everything is trash or will be,” and he could say the exact same thing about this disjointed, overblown mess of a movie.
1 piece of what a waste of acting talent toast

The Party (NR)
Starring: Patricia Clarkson, Bruno Ganz, Cherry Jones, Emily Mortimer, Cillian Murphy, Kristin Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall
Directed by: Sally Potter
This is a classic one-set “Dinner Party” play where so-called friends gather together to cut down each other with pithy one-liners. Each of the guests represents a character type, and like a Midsomer Murders episode without a dead body, each actor gets a chance to shine. Problem is, the director can’t seem to hold everyone in check, and Kristen Scott Thomas and Cillian Murphy theatrically over-act as they project everything to the cheap seats. Meh.
1 piece of I wouldn’t pay real money to see this one toast

Death Wish (R)
Starring: Bruce Willis, Vincent D’Onofrio. Elisabeth Shue, Camilla Morone, Dean Norris
Directed by: Eli Roth
Resurrecting a trope made famous by Charles Bronson, a trauma surgeon reacts to the brutal home-invasion attack on his wife and daughter by searching out the bad guys responsible—and killing them. This incendiary film celebrates vigilante justice, and is absolutely the wrong film at the wrong time. I kept looking at the credits to see if this was financed by the NRA.
1 piece of I’m disappointed that Bruce Willis took the job toast

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