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Cinema Toast


IT (R)

Starring: Bill Skarsgard, Sohia Lillis, Jaeden Liberher, Finn Wolfhard, Jeremy Ray Taylor

Directed by: Andres (Andy) Mushietcti

The “Killer Clown” returns to haunt the nightmares of a new generation. Stephen King’s 1986 novel was made into a 1989 cult-classic miniseries (starring Tim Curry as the sewer-dwelling, shape-shifting clown, Pennywise). The new movie draws heavily on the miniseries - but only the parts featuring the protagonists as kids (their grown-up counterparts will appear in “IT: Part Two”). The director treats the film as a one-trick-pony by setting up and repeating the same child-at-risk-in-a-dark-creepy-place situation over and over again. He does include the important bits - like a boy dying from having his arm torn off, a marauding squad of physically-abused-at-home bullies, a group of victims (aka The Losers Club) and other icky things. In the interest of avoiding an NC-17 rating, despite the sanitized version in the original movie script, the book’s pre-adolescent group sex scene (initiated by the girl) was never filmed.

2 pieces of ‘if you are triggered by childhood nightmares, stay far, far away from IT’ toast

HOME AGAIN (R)

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Jon Rudnitsky, Candice Bergen, Pico Alexander, Nat Wolff, Michael Sheen

Directed by: Hallie Myers-Shier

This is one of those “made-by-a-filmmaker’s-child” fantasy movies where a recently separated mother of two relocates from New York to LA with plenty of cash and plenty of free time. The kids miss their dad and former home, and aspire to “fit in” at their new school. Then mom drinks too much at a party and invites three poor (but handsome) aspiring filmmakers to live in her guest cottage. (Doesn’t everyone have a guest cottage?). She flirts with all three, and the guys wisely try to get the kids in their corner. Then (surprise, surprise), the husband and dad flies to LA complete with his winning smile, Welsh accent, and easy-to-like manner. Oh dear. What’s a girl with multiple suitors to do? ANSWER: See Ginger Rogers’ 1941 comedy Tom, Dick and Harry.

2 pieces of ‘a fantasy presented like it was reality (when it obviously isn’t)’ toast

TRIP TO SPAIN (NR)

Starring: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Marta Barrio

Directed by: Michael Winterbottom

The self-caricaturizing comic duo of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon continue their third “My Dinner With Andre”-style travel trips that started in England, then relocated to France and, in this film, Spain. Shots of spectacular scenery are broken up with wine-fueled conversations between the two men. Middle-aged, one man is a besotted new father, the other (in the words of Henry Higgins) “a confirmed old bachelor and likely to remain so.” Their dry-witted conversations sparkle with life and are punctuated with spot-on impersonations of famous people. In other words, this is a film which will be appreciated by those who enjoy this sort of thing.

3-1/2 pieces of ‘droll conversationalists’ toast

I AM THE BLUES (NR)

Starring: Bobby Rush, Henry Lynn, Bobby Gray, Bud Spires

Directed by: Daniel Cross

A musical treat not to be missed, the focus of this Delta Blues documentary is Robby Rush (who finally won a Grammy this year at the age of 83). The “international dean of the Blues” jawbones some stories of the old days, sings, plays and writes some music, and jams alongside other legends from the juke joints labelled “the chitlin circuit.”

3-1/2 pieces of ‘toe-tappin’’ toast

WHO’S STREETS? (R)

Directed by: Sabaah Folyan, Damon Davis

This documentary takes an unflinching, semi-balanced second look at the 16 months following “The siege of Ferguson, Missouri,” after police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed an unarmed Black teen named Michael Brown. It’s all here - more “real” than the clips we’ve seen on TV - the focus is a series of brutally honest, searingly emotional first-person interviews with people who lived what was happening—and share what they witnessed in vivid detail.

3-1/2 pieces of ‘history is powerful’ toast

MENASHE (NR)

Starring: Menashe Lustig, Ruben Niborski, Yoel Weisshaus

Directed by: Joshua Weinstein

Presented in sub-titled Yiddish, this film tells the simple (yet complicated) tale of a rumpled, recently widowed father who must live apart from his beloved pre-teen son because the Hebraic tradition dictates that boys must be raised in two-parent families. The solution is for Menashe to remarry, but as the catastrophic arranged meeting with an eligible woman proves, Menashe is completely uninterested in marrying again. Compounding everything is that the brother-in-law tasked with raising the boy is a by-the-book prig who despises Menashe’s “aimless” life and everything it stands for.

3-1/2 pieces of ‘Yiddish dramady’ toast

(Contact Gil at gilmansergh@comcast.net)