Saturday, October 25, 2008

Week of October 24 to October 30 (Mann)

What’s On at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

Did you think the Coen brothers were going all serious on you after seeing last year’s Academy Award winning No Country For Old Men? Not to worry. Their new film BURN AFTER READING, which opens at the Tropic today, is more arch than a Gothic cathederal.

One thing the Oscar did was cement their ability to attract almost any movie star to their projects. The ensemble cast of Burn After Reading includes Brad Pitt, George Clooney Tilda Swinton, and John Malkovich among the big names, along with the ever present Frances McDormand (wife of Joel Coen).

Malkovich is a CIA analyst who gets the boot in the opening scene and spends the rest of the movie floundering about, while being bedeviled by a couple of kookie personal trainers (McDormand and Pitt, playing totally against type), a nasty wife (Swinton), a philandering G-man (Clooney) and some moronic CIA officials. It’s a thriller as befits its CIA underpinnings, with Russian agents, multiple killings and other good fun.

The current project of the Coen team is another black comedy A Serious Man, about a professor whose wife is leaving him. And then they are signed on to adapt Michael Chabon’s bizarre bestseller, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, about a fictive Jewish colony in Alaska. Talk about topical!

After reading about this, and reflecting on the rest of the Coen oeuvre, maybe I misinterpreted No Country for Old Men. Was it really a spoof?

Anyhow, there’s more fun and games this week with the French romantic comedy, A GIRL CUT IN TWO. The new Gallic femme fatale, Ludivine Sagnier (Swimming Pool, Moliere, A Secret) is a perky blonde TV weathercaster who has fallen for a famous, and famously womanizing, older writer. But she’s torn by the bold affections of a handsome, rich young man, who thinks he’s entitled to her. As Roger Ebert says, “it is comedic, in that macabre Hitchcockian way that takes a certain delight in the flaws of mankind.” It’s also a crime thriller.

Both these comedy thrillers are just the thing for a little not-to-serious break from Fantasy Fest. But if you’re really into the Halloween aspect, then the Monday Night Classic movie is the thing for you. This week it’s a revival of the original George Romero zombie film, THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Here’s a movie that could barely find a distributor when it was made in 1968, but has now been enshrined in the National Film Registry as a classic of American cinema. You know the plot: flesh eating ghouls stalk the earth, particularly a farmhouse in Pennsylvania.

Alert: The Tropic will be closed on Saturday night, so that the zombies (or is that the Tropic staff) can enjoy the Fantasy Fest parade. Check the schedule carefully for showtimes.

Full info at Comments to
[from Key West, the Newspaper -]

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