Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 3/23/18
Leaning Into the Wind (PG)
Starring: Andy Goldsworthy, Holly Goldsworthy
Directed by: Thomas Riedelsheimer
In 2001, Thomas Riedelsheimer’s lyrical documentary called Rivers and Tides focused on the environmental sculptor Andy Goldsworthy creating some of his transitory outdoor installations. Fifteen years later, the a filmmaker’s Leaning Into the Wind once again tracks the artist (now joined by his grown daughter, Holly) as they create works in Brazil, Spain, France, Scotland, New Hampshire and San Francisco. The result is a journey through one of Goldsworthy’s most important mediums—time.
4 pieces of Andy Goldsworthy toast
Midnight Sun (PG-13)
Starring: Bella Thorne, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Rob Riggle, Quinn Shepard
Directed by: Scott Speer
This latest “rare disease afflicted girl of the month” teen romance, focuses on a young woman who will die if she is exposed to sunlight. She is not, however, a vampire, but merely a girl whose rare affliction means she must stay indoors during the day and therefore limit her excursions to the nighttime. The question for audiences is this: “Can a former Disney-Channel starlet exhibit on-screen charisma with the son of California’s Austrian-born former governor?” The answer quickly becomes obvious as Bella Thorne continues to play the klutzy, wide-eyed, socially awkward (but beautiful) character she played for Disney, and her “love interest” has all the talent of a store dummy (albeit a handsome one). The storyline involves the girl trying to keep her condition a secret from the guy. In the end, it’s all just a cheesy melodrama better suited for the Disney Channel.
2 and 1/2 pieces of mildly interesting to those raised on Disney Channel fare toast
Pacific Rim Uprising (PG-13)
Starring: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Tian Jing, Calee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi
Directed by: Steven S. DeKnight
Idris Elba’s Slacker Pentecost has somehow died since the last movie in this series, so his “son” is plucked from the Star Wars sequels and set inside the skyscraper-sized Rockem-Sockem robots of the future. He teams up with another orphan (a plucky, super-smart girl), which allows the teen demographic to have a distaff counterpoint to all the macho role models onscreen. The screenplay is crammed with pseudo-scientific words like “drift compatibility,” and shatterdome,” but it’s all just a set up for loud, louder, loudest battles of destruction.
1 and 1/2 pieces of pandering to teen video-gamers toast
Starring: Claire Foy,Joshua Leonard, Juno Temple, Jay Pharoah, Matt Damon
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Shot on an iPhone in only 14 days, the Sex, Lies, and Videotape wunderkind continues to make edgy, sexy, films focusing on extensions of our logical fear of whatever the newest technology happens to be. Here, on the small screen, is a tale of sexual harassment in the workplace, a Tinder-date one-night-stand, a stalker, and being locked up for random, and very personal thoughts. “Think of your cell phone as your enemy,” the Matt Damon character says as he explains the dangers inherent in social media. Everyone who sees this film should heed his warning.
3 and 1/2 pieces of talent shines whatever the medium toast
The Death of Stalin (R)
Starring: Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, Simon Russel Beale, Paddy Considine, Rupert Friend, Michael Palin
Directed by: Armando Iannucci
Feeling at times like an extended Monty Python sketch (it even stars Michael Palin), this is a based on true events farce about how various historical figures rush to fill the power vacuum after Josef Stalin’s 1953 death. It’s described as a comedy, and is humorous in parts, but the real-life excesses of the characters portrayed onscreen keep muddying the waters. Are jokes involving rape funny—especially when being told by the murderous, sexual predator who is the head of Russia’s Secret Police? When asked about this, screenwriter/director Armando Iannucci points to the joke books of the era that made fun of torture and executions. “See,” he says. “It really happened.”
1 and 1/2 pieces of 1953 Soviet “humor” isn’t funny today toast
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