Friday, October 3, 2008

Week of October 3 to October 9

What’s On At The Tropic
By Phil Mann

Everyone knows that Argentina is a cool place to go. You can’t beat a European ambiance and a weak currency. And they make some great films. Did you see the con-game thriller Nine Queens, which the Film Society showed in its old San Carlos days? This week you have a chance to catch the nominee for five Silver Condors (the Argentine Oscar), ELSA AND FRED, a romantic love story about people of a certain age.

It’s described as a December-December romance, which should give you the idea. Fred is an uptight recent widower, ready to draw into his shell. Elsa is a free spirit. Let the games begin.

Speaking of games, there’s nothing like the French director Catherine Breillat for sexual game playing. Her THE LAST MISTRESS takes up the story, based on a novel, of a 19th century French gentleman who tried to be loyal to his wife, but was irresistibly drawn to a ‘bad” woman. Mlle. Breillat’s films are notorious for their explicit sexuality. Romance eschewed getting a rating, because an “unrated” was more marketable than an XXX one. She’s quoted as saying “I am the pariah of French cinema. … Some people refuse even to read my scripts. But it also makes me very happy because hatred is invigorating. All true artists are hated. Only conformists are ever adored.” Yet The Last Mistress is far from porn, and is much loved by the establishment, even getting nominated for a Golden Palm at Cannes. What it is, is a lush period piece on the subject of male sexual obsession, that family-destroying urge that gives men a bad name. I don’t know how many of you are following the hit television series Mad Men, but the male lead in The Last Mistress is really treading the same path as the hero of that series. Some things never change.

As if to prove that point, the Tropic is also continuing its run of ELEGY, the Philip Roth-Ben Kingsley-Penélope Cruz vehicle about a womanizing professor brought down by a November-April affair. Like The Last Mistress, it’s directed by a European woman and features Goya-esque nude images. What’s going on there? Are these directors demonstrably flaunting the power that they have over (straight) men?

Also held over are Werner Herzog’s documentary on Antarctica, ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD, and the hugely popular mystery thriller TRANSSIBERIAN, featuring Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer on a train ride almost within sight of Alaska. The Monday night classic this week is an ultra-classic, 8 ½, Fellini’s inside-outside look at filmmaking. And, of course, the Kids Movie series continues every Saturday morning at 12:30, with free films for the young and their older escorts.

Six different movies, from filmmakers in Argentina, France, Italy and America, with settings in Russia, Spain, and the South Pole as well as their own countries. Stories of old love, young love and the bridge between. Documentaries, classics, kids’ movies, and narrative films. What a place! Every day there’s a Film Festival at Key West’s own Tropic Cinema.

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

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