Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases For the Week of 9/28/18
Bisbee ’17 (PG)
Starring: Fernando Serrano, Mike Anderson, Charles Bethea
Directed By: Robert Greene
Flash back to 1917 for a moment. Woodrow Wilson is President, the Zimmerman Telegram was recently uncovered outlining a military alliance between Germany and Mexico intending to keep the U.S. neutral, but instead, making the U.S. enter WW1. Congress passes The Alien and Sedition Act, resulting in the arrest of Socialists, Bolshevists, Communists, Anarchists, Wobblies, labor organizers, immigrants, and Seventh Day Adventists. On July 12, in Bisbee, Arizona, the local sheriff arrests 1,200 “militant” miners, loads them into boxcars and “deports” them to a spot in the middle of the desert. To honor the 100-year anniversary of this event, a motley group of “history re-enactors” gather to play assigned parts in this little known facet of American history. Robert Greene’s fascinating documentary records the thoughts, feelings, and “ah-ha moments” of the people involved. It makes for great theater, great social commentary, and a great movie—especially since the competing forces that prompted the “Bisbee Deportation” are still active today.
4 pieces of Howard Zinn-like history toast
Night School (PG-13)
Starring: Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Rob Riggle, Taran Killam
Directed by: Malcolm D. Lee
A salesman who impresses his girlfriend with flash clothes, car and apartment, can’t afford these luxuries, so he jumps at the chance to get a good-paying job. Problem is, he never finished high school, so he has to get his GED. Which leads directly to Night School—and a classroom filled with various “types” gathered together in Breakfast Club fashion. There’s only one teen in the group. Everyone else is old enough to realize that they have to finish something before they can move forward. Strangest thing is that their teacher expects them to work—and work hard. It’s too bad the filmmakers couldn’t leave things alone, and had to cram a heist and a school dance into what had been “working AOK” up to that point.
2 and 1/2 take pride in who you are toast
Starring the voices of: Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya, Danny DeVito, Common, Lebron James, Gina Rodriguez, Yara Shahidi
Directed by: Karey Kirkpatric, Jason Reisig
A cute, fur-covered Yeti is raised to fear the dreaded “smallfoot”—the dangerous, but seldom seen species of animal who cover their feet with leather boxes and leave strangely-patterned tracks in the snow. This is, of course a “flip things around” tale where the Yeti are the “good guys” and humans are the “terrifying ones.” The animation is similar to Monsters Inc. (which was made seventeen years ago), and the songs are instantly forgotten, but the subtle teachable moments regarding xenophobia, fake news, and psychological and emotional manipulation are important and well-done.
3 pieces of see this one with some youngsters and talk about it with them toast
The Children Act (R)
Starring: Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Ben Chaplin, Fionna Whitehead
Directed by: Richard Ayre
Considering the historic-goings on this week, a movie about a judge who views her courtroom as as a place of law—not morals, is timely. She is called upon to decide the fate of a 17-year-old boy with leukemia whose Jehovah’s Witness parents refuse to allow a blood transfusion—and possibly save his life. Emma Thompson gives an Oscar-worthy performance as the jurist who must make a decision fit for King Solomon. It helps that this all takes place in Britain under the auspices of The Children Act in the title.—an edict which dictates that the “welfare of minors is of paramount concern.”
3 pieces of well-acted (but occasionally melodramatic) toast
Starring: Benjamin Dickey, Alia Shaukat, Josh Hamilton, Charlie Sexton, Sam Rockwell, Steve Zahn, Kris Kristopherson, Richard Linklater
Directed by: Ethan Hawke
Ethan Hawk directs a script he co-wrote with Sybil Rosen—the widow of the talented (but self-destructive) singer/songwriter Blaze Foley. Influencing the “Texas Outlaw” music famously personified by Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. Blaze never attained Merle or Willie’s success—and the three interwoven parts of his life attempt to offer an explanation. The sweetest section is the “loving in a tree house together” communal lifestyle that Rosen shared with Foley, the saddest section is the re-enactment of the fateful night when Foley was shot to death. The other section is the legacy this mercurial musician had on other performers. Don’t be fooled by the film’s seemingly unstructured presentation—Hawke knows exactly what he’s doing, and it’s a perfect match with Foley’s persona.
3 pieces of engagingly disjointed musical biopic toast
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