Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases For the Week of  10/12/18

First Man (PG-13) 

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Clare Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll

Directed by: Damien Chazelle

As Neil Armstrong, the First Man to set foot on the moon, Ryan Gosling has the challenging task of playing a character whose life depends upon staying focused and unemotional. He is like Keir Dullea calmly repeating “open the pod bay doors” to HAL the rebellious computer in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001. The word “wooden” springs to mind—but but Kubrick picked his star for that calmness and certainty, and director Damien Chazelle chose Gosling for the same reason. We first meet Armstrong as a test pilot whose X-15 jet gets in serious trouble. “You’re bouncing off the atmosphere,” ground control explains. The pilot doesn’t even break a sweat. What makes this film special, is getting to meet Armstrong as a family man and father concerned with the fate of his cancer-stricken daughter. We also catch glimpses of the media strings being pulled and the back-up plans for probable failure from the Nixon White House. In today’s climate of toxicity, the film has been crucified for not taking time to show Armstrong planting the American Flag in the lunar landscape. Phwwtttt. Why not talk about the bravery the filmmaker displays in the final images they selected to show the audience? Now that is something.  

3 and 1/2 pieces of space history like never before seen toast 

 

 

The Old Man and the Gun (R) 

Starring: Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Tom Waits, Tika Sumpter

Directed by: David Lowery

Bank tellers repeatedly described real-life bank robber Forrest Tucker as “a gentleman,” and Robert Redford play his (supposedly) final onscreen role the same way. So don’t be put by the “and the Gun” in the title—“It’s not even loaded,” Redford explains to Sissy Spacek. Befitting its PG-13 rating, the entire film is “gentlemanly.” Not a bad ending for the guy we enjoyed watching as a train robber (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), con man (The Sting), investigative reporter (All the President’s Men), big game hunter (Out of Africa), and cowboy (The Horse Whisperer). Not bad at all.

3 pieces of Redford and Spacek are magical together toast 

 

 

Bad Times at the El Royal (R)

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Cythia Erivo, Chris Hemsworth, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Callee Spaeny, Lewis Pullman

Directed By: Drew Goddard

If the filmmaker had added an “e” to the name of the hotel featured in the title, it might have been just about perfect. Jeff Bridges adds his “authenticity drawl” to his not-so-priestly Father Flynn character, former “Mad Man” Jon Hamm sells vacuum cleaners, Cynthia Erivo is the sultry singer with a timely monologue about the testosterone-fueled state of things, and Dakota Johnson is the disgruntled hippy-type. Like a set-up for a Hitchcock thriller channelled through  Stanley Kubrick, all four check into the run-down El Royal hotel on the Cal/Neva border at the same time. The building itself is as important a character as the Bates Motel was in Psycho, or the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. The El Royal’s  hidden hallways behind the guest rooms come complete with voyeuristic two-way mirrors, and each guest has secrets to reveal. When a murderous cult-leader arrives looking for his escaped slave-girl, the others have opportunities to become heroes or cowards.   

3 pieces of well-constructed thriller toast 

 

 

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (PG) 

Starring: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Madison Iseman, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Caleel Harris, Chris Parnell, Jack Black

Directed by: Ari Sandel

Despite the fact that Jack Black’s performance as a kid-friendly “ghost writer,” is what sold the original Goosebumps film, he only has a cameo in this sequel. In fact, the previous director, writers, actors and even locale have been dumped for some unknown reason. Only Slappy, the evil ventriloquist dummy remains intact. To make sure they keep the coveted PG-rating, the filmmakers have created a bunch of truly un-scary Halloween “monsters” out of box-store-style costumes and a laughable giant spider made of helium balloons.  

2 pieces of watch the original Goosebumps instead toast

 

NOTE: The powers that be have decided that after eight years, this will be the last Cinema Toast to appear in The Petaluma Argus Courier and online at Petaluma 360. Thanks for reading and sharing Gil Mansergh’s opinions about movies. 

Comments? E-mail gilmansergh@comcast.net