Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases For the Week of  8/03/18

Eighth Grade (PG-13)

Starring: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Jake Ryan, Missy Yager, Daniel Zohlgari

Directed by: Bo Burnham

Writer/director Bo Burnham shoots his movie, Eighth Grade, from the POV of a student named Kayla (Elsie Fisher), and creates a “must-see” film in the process. Kayla and her junior high classmates are trying to find their way through the last week of being “kids” before the unavoidable transition to the  “Young Adult” status of High School. Like many youngsters, Kayla chronicles her thoughts, realities and aspirations via YouTube and reveals a cute, wannabe older and wiser individual who would somehow be better able coping with the realities of living day-to-day. This coping includes the garbled attempts at “communication,” with her single dad, trying not to giggle or cry during “active shooter drills” at school, trying to disappear in her auditorium seat when she garners the “Most Quiet” award from her classmates, and displaying her less-than-perfect body at an end of the year pool party. We grown up’s immediately see that every kid at the party is “less-than-perfect,” but we are supposedly adult enough to not consider ourself “unworthy” in comparison. This brilliant, slice-of-life uncovers the fact that although Kayla may not appreciate it right now, most of the people she encounters have her best interests in mind, and many of these people display genuine kindness. Wow! What a concept!

Note: Because of  “coarse language and some sexual material,” the powers that be have arbitrarily given this film an “R” rating which theoretically removes it from being seen by middle schoolers. Ignore this, take your kids, and if it makes them feel more comfortable, sit in different parts of the theater. 

4 pieces of like seeing the world through an eighth grader’s eyes toast 

Christopher Robin (PG)

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael, and the voices of: Jim Cummings, Chris O’Dowd, Toby Jones, Brad Garrett

Directed by: Marc Forster

Anticipating the move I saw in the previews, I must admit that I was underwhelmed with final film. Returning to the cash cow that Disney has mined ever since the animated 1966 short, Winnie the Pooh, this live action and CG stuffed toys version takes place in post-WWII London, where ruined buildings and bomb craters dot the cityscape, and violent flashbacks show how the destruction occurred. Which apparently explains why the grown up Christopher Robin is a depressed, unimaginative cipher slaving away selling valises and firing co-workers while the relationship with his wife and daughter grows more distant as the WWII veteran disavows anything playful or fun. The solution to all this woe is the sudden appearance of the furry stuffed toys Christopher played with during his childhood. Pooh and his pals arrive in that present-day through a a large hole in a tree from the Hundred Acre Wood that inexplicably grows within London’s city limits. In this film, our favorite “bear-of-little-brain” is particularly Yoda-like with timely commentaries drawn directly from the pages of Benjamin Hoof’s The Tao of Pooh. I assume the suits figured this tale would attract both kids and grown ups, but the angst suffered by Christopher Robin overshadows the true delight that shines whenever Pooh and his friends are onscreen

2 and 1/2  pieces of both depressing and playful at different times toast 

Dark Money (NR) 

Starring: John S. Adams, Jon Tester, Ann Ravel, Jeffrey Toobin, Jim Brown

Directed by: Kimberly Reed

Montana is the home state of documentary filmmaker Kimberly Reed, and apparently ground-zero for some of the well-disguised sources of legally secret (ever since the Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court) funding for ads attacking any politicians who try to curtail the greedy sources of these secret stashes of cash. 

2 and 1/2 pieces of probably will only preach to the choir, but the rest of us should pay attention too toast

Generation Wealth (R) 

Directed by: Lauren Greenfield

My wife and I finally visited Hearst Castle, and that excessive display of personal wealth shows that the consistency of the so-called American Dream is nothing new. Documentary film maker Lauren Greenfield has previously made films focusing on eating disorders (Thin), and an “I’ve got it so I’ll flaunt it billionaire (Queen of Versailles) and includes some of that footage here. There are also new visits with an on-the-lamb German gazillionaire, and a self-obsessed woman who travels to Brazil for plastic surgery to quickly get her pre-pregnancy body back again—with horrific results. Surprisingly, Greenfield even turns the camera on herself as she considers the role her films have had on the glorification of consumerism at its most conspicuous.    

3 pieces of you’ll love to react to the self-absorption of these folk toast

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