Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases For the Week of 3/16/18

Love, Simon (PG-13) 

Starring: Nick Robinson, Jennifer  Garner, Josh Duhamel, Katherine Langford, Tony Hale

Directed by: Greg Berlanti

Love, Simon captures the essence of what it means (meant?) to be a teen today (or 5 years ago?) by focusing on the core of male and female “best friends forever” who pal around together, stick up for each other against bullies, and casually undercut each other’s confidence with sarcasm and misdirected wit. Simon is a closeted gay male having a secret e-mail relationship with another closeted guy in the same school, and like Becky Albertalli’s book Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, the film uses a high school production of the musical Oliver as the glue that holds a group of old and new friends together. Cross-dressing characters (Oliver is played by a girl onstage), mistaken identities, threats to reveal the secret e-mails, helicopter parents, and the ubiquitous “who am I anyway?” question suggest more than a trace of a classic Shakespearean farce—but one with a positive message.

3 and 1/2 pieces of a John Hughes style film for today toast.

Gringo (R) 

Starring: David Oyelowo, Joel Edgerton, Amanda Seyfried, Charlize Theron, Thandi Newton, Sharlito Copley

Directed by: Nash Edgerton

David Oyelowo catches our attention by acting like he is in a different film than everyone else. Or, perhaps more accurately, everyone else acts like they are in a different film than Daniel Oyelowo. Since all the actors involved have proven themselves worthy to be there, we’ve got to blame the director for the “lets throw everything in a blender and see what sticks to the wall” result. The tale of a patsy from Nigeria being manipulated by everyone he encounters (especially after he escapes from the USA to Mexico), is supposed to be alive, fresh and “cutting edge,” but instead the blood-soaked movie is dead, stale and needs sharpening.

1/2 piece of criminally mis-directed talent toast

7 Days at Entebbe (PG-13)

Starring: Rosamunde Pike, Daniel Bruhl, Eddie MArsan, Lior Ashkenazi

Directed by: Jose Padhillha

What? Again? There have been at least three movies and four documentaries about the 1976 terrorist hijacking of an Air France plane and the Israeli military raid to rescue the passengers, so the obvious question for this film is “Why.” At first, it seems to be a deconstruction of events in real time, but we soon realize that the German negotiators are all naive, the Palestinian terrorists are all seeking martydom, the Jewish passengers are all noble, and the Israeli rescue team are all at the top of their game. Then there are the”secret” political manipulations behind the scenes as options are weighted and the confusing opening shots of a performance by an Israeli modern-dance troupe. In the end, the “why” question remains unanswered.

1 pieces of deja-vu once again toast

The Leisure Seekers (R)

Starring: Helen Mirren, Donald Southerland, Kristy Mitchell, Joshua Mikel, Christian McKay

Directed by: Paolo Virzi

You have probably seen a bumper sticker on a passing Winnebago that reads “We’re spending our children’s inheritance.” At first glance, that is the motivation for a 76-year-old couple to climb aboard their motorhome and leave Massachusetts for the Florida Keys. Except…  Little things begin to add up for the audience. His short-term memory comes and goes. Her stamina is failing, and we see what is obvious before the screenwriters want us to. In addition, the filmmakers have unwisely made the mistake of providing a series of comic interludes—like the husband driving  off to leave his stranded wife to catch up on the back of a passing motorcycle. These laugh-less attempts at providing a touch of whimsy just get in the way of a perfectly serviceable story about two fine old people who decide to head off into the sunset—together.

2 pieces of skip over the supposedly funny bits and you’d have a much better film toast

Comments? E-mail gilmansergh@comcast.net