Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases For the Week of  7/13/18

Leave No Trace (PG)

Starring: Ben Foster, Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie

Directed by: Debra Granik

A homeless-by-choice vet with PTSD and his 13-year-old daughter live a peripatetic existence “off the grid” in the deep woods near Portland, Oregon. They forage for food, sleep in cleverly concealed hidey-holes, read, play chess, and practice proactive techniques to avoid critters, park rangers, and the police. As we get to know this pair, we realize that the self-confident girl does the parenting of her shell-shocked father. Like the “back to the woods” dad in Captain Fantastic, the father’s teaching style is dogmatic as he shares his decidedly single-minded, us-vs-them outlook. But when interactions with other human beings increase, like all teens, the girl begins to seriously question many of the “truths” she has been taught.

4 pieces of Debra Granik has discovered another star in Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie toast 

 

 

Skyscraper (PG-13)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Noah Taylor,

Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber

In case you can’t tell, Skyscraper is a farce. Dwayne Johnson and everyone else involved obviously know they are making a ridiculously over-the-top popcorn muncher with a plot stolen from Towering Inferno and Die Hard. In case you don’t understand these movie references, that means that while a raging fire threatens to collapse a humongously ugly mega-building, a seriously wounded family man grits his teeth, flexes his muscles and even performs self-surgery to stop the bad guys from destroying their target. Except, there’s a few twists this time around. The building is in Hong Kong, the hero has an artificial leg, and the baddie is a gal. 

2 and 1/2 pieces of big winks and tongues-in-cheeks from everyone involved toast 

 

 

Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (PG) 

Starring the voices of: Adam Sandler, Kathryn Hahn, Selena Gomez

Directed by: Gerard McMurray

Bringing this lackluster, clunkily animated, badly scripted film to theaters in the wake of Pixar’s The Incredibles takes a certain amount of guts.  The same cast of rubber-like characters with very detailed hair from the original Hotel Transylvania are back, but the wheezing plot involves a cruise ship, where Van Helsing’s great-great-granddaughter is trying to eliminate Drac with garlic saturated guacamole while becoming captivated by his European charm. Everything else is accompanied by pratfalls, impossible body contortions, and flatulance jokes.

1 and 1/2 pieces of really sub-par animated fare toast

 

 

Three Identical Strangers (PG-13) 

Starring: Robert Shafran, David Kellman, Edward Galland

Directed by: Tim Wardle

Decades before the Federal Government separated siblings, three baby boys (triplets) were sent to three different sets of adoptive parents—none of whom were told the boys were part of a set. As a 19-year old, two of the boys met at a college in upstate New York, and recognized the third brother in a newspaper photo. Reunited, the trio rented an apartment together, became infamous for their party-animal lifestyles, and opened a restaurant called Triplets. The documentary of their lives is presented as a mystery, and frankly plays the audience like they were watching a magician’s clever misdirection. The end result proves that—as always, what you see (and therefore believe), may not be the whole truth.

3 pieces of manipulated documentary toast

 

 

Eating Animals (NR) 

Starring the voices of: Adam Sandler, Kathryn Hahn, Selena Gomez

Directed by: Christopher Dillon Quinn

The stated purpose of this documentary is to raise our consciousness about “industrial farming in America.” In other words, how the critters we raise for meat are treated before they appear on our tables. Based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s bestselling book, the results shown on screen (i.e. the “fecal marinade” of “hog lagoons,” the “CAFO’s” concentrated animal feeding operations, etc.), are compellingly off-putting. But since we live in a county dotted with farms and ranches, we already know something about the “food chain.” Don’t we? Narrated with vegan assurance by Natalie Portman, it is doubtful that in the polarized opinion zeitgeist of today, that the eating habits of any people wearing “Carnivore and Proud of-it:” T-shirts will be changed, but the filmmakers probably hope so. 

NOTE: Missing from this latest version of “how sausage is made” story is the newest part the equation for consumers—sourcing meat from other countries without the previous assurance of industry trademarks or government-mandated, country of origin labelling. 

2 pieces of another doc “singing to the choir” toast

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