Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Week of August 1 to 7

What’s On At The Tropic

By Phil Mann

Sometimes life is too good. That’s certainly the case at the Tropic this week, where your cool summer haven is offering enough film selections to keep you chilling every day, all week long. Six different movies: from the new Pixar-Disney animated hit WALL-E, to the epic biopic MONGOL about the early life of Genghis Kahn, to a documentary about gay Muslims titled A JIHAD FOR LOVE. Since the Tropic doesn’t have six screens, that means you have to watch the schedule carefully. Some movies, like WALL-E and MONGOL are showing only once per day.

I haven’t talked much about technology, but the apparatus to make all this happen is quite something. It’s not just a matter of sticking a DVD in a deck and hitting Play. The 35mm films come to the Tropic on four to six big reels that have to be spliced together and put on a six-foot wide “platter” that feeds to a 2,000 watt projector. The film runs through the projector and then back to the three-deck platter. The Tropic projection booth, spanning the area behind the Carper and Taylor theaters has two of these rigs, plus four high-powered digital projectors and a unique high definition digital cinema server. The surround sound comes from an array of ten to twelve speakers in each theater, dominated by a set of three refrigerator-sized speakers behind each of the screens. That’s why the dialogue seems to come from the actors’ mouths; the primary speakers are hidden behind perforated movie screens. To drive these speakers, each theater is equipped with a rack of five to seven independent amplifiers, all tied together with a specialized Dolby or Smart cinema sound processor. The Tropic has over $250,000 invested in this state-of-the art equipment, and is constantly upgrading it.

Sorry for the digression, but the projectionists (Dan Schwab, Ed Steinhardt, and Ozlem Berg) are the unsung heroes of your viewing pleasure. With only a single projectionist on duty at any time, there’s going to be a lot of scurrying around as he or she switches from one movie to the next. So be patient.

As always, you can find the full schedule at or check the daily ad on the TV page of the Citizen. If you aren’t getting the weekly email coming attractions, send me a note and I’ll get you added to the list. You don’t have to be a Film Society member to get it, but of course if you attend more than a few films a year you’re foolish not to be. Society members save three bucks on every ticket.

The main special event this week is a visit from filmmaker David Monro, director of the movie FULL GROWN MEN, the story of two boyhood friends who try to recapture their youth at their favorite childhood amusment park. The movie is running all week, but he’ll be there to introduce and take questions for the 6:15pm show on Saturday night. Make it a date.

Comments welcome here or to
[Originally published in Key West, the Newspaper -]

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