Sunday, November 30, 2008

Week of Nov. 28 thru Dec. 4 (Mann)

What's On At the Tropic
By Phil Mann

This week's offerings are making me nostalgic. Next spring marks the tenth anniversary of the Key West Film Society. Back in the Society's first year, one of its first films was The Celebration, a very creative, but excruciating, movie about a family reunion that becomes a disaster when some family members bring up inconvenient truths. RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, now running at the Tropic, reminds me of that earlier film.

The Celebration was an experimental movie (Dogma 95, if you remember that), shot handheld with no supplemental lighting, and the Film Society showed it with rickety 16mm projectors and a sound system so bad the audience was happy that it was subtitled. RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, on the other hand, profits from the Tropic's A-level 35mm projection system and Dolby digital sound. It features a bona fide movie star, Anne Hathaway, and was directed by one of America's premier directors, Jonathan Demme. But it is also full of handheld shots, minimal lighting and an absence of background musical distraction.

And the story has a similar harrowing quality. We, the audience that is, join a family welcoming their errant daughter home on furlough from rehab to attend the wedding of her sister. We're at the rehearsal dinner and the wedding itself, squirming all the while as this troubled woman shows how vulnerable a family's dynamics are to the behavior of its least accommodating member. It is an event and a process with which we can all identify. Hathaway's performance is so real it's difficult not to jump to the screen and throttle her. She has come a long way from her origins in the Disney Princess Diaries, and is highly touted for an Oscar nomination.

More nostalgia. This spring will also be the fifth anniversary of the opening of the Tropic. Which brings to mind the early fund-raising parties when the founders set out a group of proposed theater seats and solicited patron preferences. Among the choices, tongue-in-cheek, was a wooden replica of an electric chair with straps and other essentials. It was really a prop from a local movie being shot in the empty warehouse that would become the theater. Well, that movie has finally made it to the screen, and it will premiere at the Tropic next Tuesday. LUCID is the project of local filmmakers Chris Shultz and Mike Marrero, and it was worth the wait. If you want to know the plot, check out You'll love the cast, with locals including Richard Grusin, Peter Downie, Robin Deck, Gordon Ross, George Murphy and Rock Solomon. And, trust me, you'll love the movie, too.

Also, premiering next week is the first in a series TUESDAYS WITH ART, movies about art and artists curated by Deborah Goldman and Joel Blair. The series is the offshoot of a day-long art-movie fest sponsored by Goldman at the Tropic last year. With the encouragement of the Film Society and some generous sponsorship, this series will run on the first Tuesday of every month throughout the winter season. This year's theme is kinetic sculpture, and it opens with two films about Alexander Calder. The series is free and open to the public, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. A social gathering and discussion will follow the screening.

More info and schedules at Comments to
[from Key West, the newspaper -]

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