Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Week of July 25 to 31, 2008

What’s On At The Tropic

By Phil Mann

I’ve been following movies at the Tropic for several years now, and I’ve never ceased to be amazed at the peculiarities of audience tastes. One dismal fact of life is that massive publicity does produce some results. Whether it’s an advertising blitz like that which accompanies the big Hollywood releases, or a popular buzz like the ones generated by Michael Moore’s documentaries, people are more likely to turn out for a film that they’ve heard about. No surprise there.

But one of the strengths of the Tropic, its raison d’être, is to help Key West discover movies that have not already been crammed into our collective conscious by external forces. Sometimes one of these movies succeeds beyond expectations. For the first two weeks in July the Tropic was showing the documentary Up the Yangtze which, without any publicity except the regular Tropic news bulletins and no movie stars, outdrew movies like Iron Man or Indiana Jones at several performances. Its environmental theme (the destruction of the Yangtze environment by the massive Three Gorges Dam) struck a sensitive Key West nerve. In past years titles like Mrs. Henderson Presents and What the #$*! Do We Know?!, have enjoyed good attendance largely through word of mouth. But then there are real gems that slip by without notice, like The Edge of Heaven, which opened and closed last week with hardly anyone noticing. What a shame! This is especially a problem during the summer in Key West, when the more-limited audience precludes the Tropic from holding a movie for several weeks just in the hope that someone will discover it.

The most important thing a columnist like me can do is to alert you to these special opportunities, which the Tropic’s programming manager Scot Hoard work hard to line up. There’s one this week that I hope will find a Key West audience. CHRIS AND DON: A LOVE STORY is a wonderful documentary about the lengthy relationship between Christopher Isherwood and his 30-year younger lover, Don Bachardy. It’s full of famous people, from Isherwood himself to friends like Tennessee Williams and Igor Stravinsky; clever wit and dialogue; and a moving true story of a gay romance.

The other very special event is the opening of the Tropic’s new cultural program, world-class ballet from the Bolshoi in hi def with surround sound. The ballet is Dimitri Shostakovich’s BOLT, a new interpretation of a 1931 ballet that was banned by the Soviets. I don’t know anything about ballet, but the reports on this say it is full of humor and even comic dances as well as superb classical ballet and a great score. If you’ve got Tuesday evening free, give it a shot.

Full info at TropicCinema.com. If you’d like to get on its list for free weekly movie bulletins, just send an email to comingattractions@keywestfilm.org with the subject line: Add Me.

Comments, please, to pmann99@gmail.com
[originally published in Key West, the newspaper - www.kwtn.com]

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