Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 3/30/18
Isle of Dogs (PG-13)
Starring the voices of: Bryan Cranston, Koyo Rankin, Lieve Schreiber, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Jeff Goldblum, Kunichi Nomura, Bob Balaban, Akira Ito, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormaond, F. Murray Abraham, Coutney B. Vance, Tilda Swinton, Yoko Ono, Harvey Keitel
Directed by: Wes Anderson
I just recorded the April 8th broadcast of my NPR radio show Word By Word with award-winning storyteller Greg Sarris and his new book How A Mountain Was Made. It turned into a mini-class on the rhythms, structures, and thematic elements involved in sharing culturally important stories (in this case, the Miwok Creation Myths). So when watching Wes Anderson’s newly-created movie-myth, The Isle of Dogs, I could immediately see the subtle profundity of what he (joined by story creators Jason Schwartzman, Roman Coppola, and Kunichi Nomura), have done in this stop-motion masterpiece. I don’t want to give away the twists and turns of the unfolding story, but in the simplest terms, it is a futuristic sci-fi allegory where, because of a canine pandemic, all of Japan’s dogs are dumped on a trash-dump island to survive as best they can. One boy misses his pet so much, he flies to the island to find him. After a crash landing, the dogs ask each other, “Are we eating him, or rescuing him?” Brilliantly, the Japanese characters speak Japanese, and the dogs speak English. I suggest that you bring a copy of this column with you to the theater, so you will have a handy list of voice-actors at the ready when you play “who is that actor?” with yourself.
4 pieces of a marvelous Wes Anderson allegorical fable toast
Sherlock Gnomes (PG)
Starring: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Johnny Depp, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Maggie Smith, Michael Caine, Ashley Jensen
Directed by: John Stevenson
A dozen-or-more rungs down the animated feature film ladder from Wes Anderson’s must-see, Isle of Dogs, is the John Stevenson directed Sherlock Gnomes. Like Dogs, this film also has an A-list of voice talent actors. The difference is, they are recorded like they were asked to read their lines without the slightest idea of what their animated counterparts are doing at the time. The pitch for this sequel to 2011‘s Gnomeo and Juliet was probably, “Sherlock Holmes meets Romeo and Juliet—only as garden gnomes.” As an added attraction, the characters frequently break out into musical interludes crammed with singing and dancing to Elton John hits (probably because the singer/songwriter is listed as one of the Executive Producers).
2 pieces of see only if you have time and money to waste during Spring Break toast
Ready Player One (PG-13)
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Simon Pegg, J.J. Miller, Mark Rylance, Hannah John-Kamen
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Yet another dystopian future YA novel is turned into a markedly different film than most in this genre because of two things: #1. It blasts to the past of the 1980’s (in a Back to the Future DeLorean, no less; #2. It’s directed by Steven Spielberg. Based on what we see of how life is in the trash heap that is 2045, it is a good time to escape from. Which is why the residents of Columbus, Ohio’s “Stacks“ (mobile homes stacked on top of each other) prefer to clamp virtual-reality headsets on and escape to other wheres and whens. In case you don’t remember, existing in the ’80’s involved watching lots of TV commercials and reveling in classic Spielberg escapism movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Twilight Zone:the Movie, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Indian Jones and the Last Crusade. Let’s just say Spielberg knows what the 80‘s were really like, and sagely he knows what he is doing with Ready Player One,
3 and 1/2 pieces of Spielbergian back to the past toast
Back To Burgundy (NR)
Starring: Pio Marmai, Ana Girardot, Francois Civil, Jean-Marc Roulot
Directed by: Cedric Klapisch
Don’t confuse the “Back to” in this film’s title with Ready Player One’s trip back in time. Instead we have a retelling of the prodigal son story from the Bible. This particular son has been “toiling in the vineyards” in far-off Australia, but returns home to France when he learns his father is on his death-bed. A time-warp of sorts does play a role, in that in this age of instant communications, almost no contact has been made between the three siblings—even when the mother died. This clunky plot device supposedly explains why the Aussie transplant is unaware of the rather major activities and decisions his family has made in the intervening years. Sadly. the beauty of the French countryside doesn’t make up for the clunkiness of the story line.
1 and 1/2 pieces of vin ordinaire toast
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