Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Week of June 13-June 19

What’s On at the Tropic
By Phil Mann

The winsome Audrey Tautou burst on the scene in the quirky 2001 comedy Amelie, a film that remains one of the most popular foreign imports in recent memory. Even today this movie remains #439 on IMBD’s Movie Meter, which measures the status of movies based on frequency of web searches, and Audrey is forever fixed in our minds as a somewhat goofy charmer.

She has since tried to break the image, playing a poor immigrant maid in the thriller Dirty Pretty Things, a handicapped orphan trying to track her battlefield-lost lover in A Very Long Engagement, and even a policewoman-sleuth in The Da Vinci Code. But the original Audrey was too good to be forgotten, and she’s back now as Irène in PRICELESS, a romantic comedy with that inimitable French style.

Irène is a gold-digger who attaches herself to the wrong guy because of mistaken identity. As the plot unfurls, they trade roles and get further mixed up. It’s farce and fun, in a gorgeous Cote D’Azur setting. And oh yes, it won the Meilleur Baiser Award at the NRJ Cine Ceremonies. That’s “Best Kiss.”

The plot in Priceless may be too farcical to be believable, but SURFWISE is also hard to believe, even though it’s a documentary. As described in the Village Voice, it’s “a mesmerizingly ambivalent documentary about an itinerant family of Jewish surfer-dude health nuts.” Doc Paskowitz became something of a legend in surfer circles for living on the beaches in a 24-foot RV with his wife and eight children. It’s all there, from the idealistic quest to the reality of his children’s rebellion at the weird life -- no sugars, no fats and no schooling -- thrust upon them.

The Tropic has been attracting a nice crowd every Monday night for its new classic film series. This week it’s DETOUR, a 1945 B noir movie that has become a paradigm of its type, and been inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry. The actor Tom Neal is a down-on-his luck piano player hitchhiking across the country to join his girlfriend. Things go downhill when a guy giving him a ride dies, he assumes the man’s identity, and then is blackmailed by a femme fatale, played by Ann Savage. Savage’s role won her recognition as one of the Top 10 All-Time Villains in a 2007 Time Magazine listing. Watch for the latest on-screen role of this 87-year-old evergreen actress in Guy Maddin’s new indie film My Winnipeg, due at the Tropic later this year.

This week also brings another showing of THE RETURN OF THE KEY WEST PICTURE SHOW (on Tuesday), and continuing runs of the hit Brit comedy SON OF RAMBOW and Helen Hunt’s THEN SHE FOUND ME.

There’s something for everyone at the Tropic, your cool summer haven.

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