Friday, November 7, 2008

Weekof November 7 to November 13 (Mann)

What’s Up At The Tropic
By Phil Mann

You know Bill Maher from his long-time Comedy Central talk show, Politically Incorrect. That show was cancelled in 2002 following a brouhaha over Maher’s disagreement with the President’s labeling the 9/11 terrorists as “cowards.” The administration warned that people like him “had to watch what they say,” presaging the Bush-Cheney general disdain for civil liberties. But he was back on the air a few months later with a new HBO show (Real Time with Bill Maher) and now he has brought his irreverence to the big screen with RELIGULOUS. Thank God for the First Amendment.

Let’s make one thing very clear. The Bush-McCain-Palin base would not approve of this movie. But God must be a good sport, because the movie skewers him (her/it?) worse than a Tina Fey impersonation of Governor Palin. The format is simple. Maher travels around the world meeting with religious figures, mostly quirky types, while drilling them on the error of their ways. The interviewees range from Jesus – as played by a young man at the Holy Land Experience amusement park in Orlando – to a dissident priest at the Vatican – who reminds me of Father Guido Sarducci. Maher covers Christians, Muslims and Jews, the holy non-Asian trio, with equal contempt. He didn’t make it to Hindu or Buddist lands, but there’s not much doubt they would fare no better, because the theme is clearly anti-deist… and very funny in Bill Maher’s unique way. It’s just the thing to celebrate last Tuesday’s election-bashing of the religious right.

If you’re looking for more-serious fare, check out FROZEN RIVER, the richly rewarding story of two down-and-out single mothers struggling to make a life in the bleak winter-cold of northern New York. Desperation and events lead them into smuggling immigrants across the frozen border river from Canada. The plot is inherently tense, and the characters – Melissa Leo (21 Grams, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada) and Misty Upham – are real. This is the kind of slice-of-life movie that only independent filmmakers produce. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. See it.

This week also marks the relaunching of the Tropic’s opera season, with a classic crowd-pleaser, THE BARBER OF SEVILLE. It’s a new production from the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, specially filmed in high definition with surround sound. Opera-lovers need no intro, but if you’re interested in a taste of opera on the big screen, this would be a good one to try. It’s relatively brief (2 ½ hours), has a comic twist, and of course contains some of the world’s best-known music. All sung in the original Italian, but fully subtitled in English for the American audience. Get a little culture! Note, by the way, that the opera series has been moved to Wednesdays. There will be an evening performance at 7:00 on November 12 in the Carper Theater, and an encore matinee in The George on November 19.

Talking about culture, get ready for next weekend at the Tropic. THE WHO is coming on Saturday, November 15 at 10:00pm in a never-released live concert film from their 1977 concert at Kilburn, England. Tickets on sale now at

More info and tickets at
[from Key West, the Newspaper -]

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