Friday, December 5, 2008

Week of December 5 to December 11

What's On At The Tropic

By Phil Mann

I first experienced Charlie Kaufman's singular creativity in Being John Malkovich, and haven't missed a mind-bending word since – Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. With his latest, SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK, the fun begins with the title. Just to clear the air, the pronunciation of this unusual word is sin-neck-dough-key. That's a trope in which a part of something refers to a whole -- as "word" in the first sentence above refers to "screenplays" -- or vice versa. The movie features a playwright-director whose sprawling masterwork is his life, or vice versa. Since Kaufman is the director as well as the writer of the film, maybe the whole thing is a synecdoche. Or whatever… that's the way it always is with Kaufman. He gets you thinking.

The first half of the movie is nothing short of brilliant. Caten Cottard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a director of regional theater whose marriage to Adele (Catherine Keener) is deteriorating, and not helped by his self-promoting therapist (Hope Davis) or his flirtation with the ditsy box office manager (Samantha Morton). From witty dialogue to comic visuals, Kaufman and his wonderful ensemble cast build a set of characters who make us laugh and winch at the same time. The second half of the movie is not so easy to describe, as Cottard goes off to Manhattan and an inventive but dreamlike world where nothing is exactly as is seems. Can we say that the movie goes from Schenectady (grounded, real) to synecdoche (nothing is what is seems, or vice versa)?

This week also brings the annual Best of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival to Key West. The format is different this year. It's all packed into one day, Wednesday, December 10. The best seven films of this year's FLIFF, will be shown from 9:00am to 9:00pm in two hour segments. The opener, for you early birds, is TAOS, about a young D.C. lawyer whogets stuck in New Mexico and learns something new about life. In the closing film, I DO AND I DON'T a young engaged couple in premarital counseling find out more about each other than they want to know. In between, we have THE AUTEUR, about a porn movie director trying to raise money for his magnum opus, Gang Bangs of New York. Check out the full schedule, with film synopses, at <>. Just five bucks for any movie.

If you want to hang out for a while at the all-day Film Festival, the Tropic will be featuring a selection of tasty snacks -- imported cheese, crackers, pita, crème caramel mousse, and more - to supplement the always-available beer, wine and treats. So make a day of it.

The other new movie this week is MOMMA'S MAN, a black comedy about a young husband and father who returns to his parents' house, and refuses to leave. Manhola Dargis in the New York Times calls it "a touchingly true film, part weepie, part comedy." Sounds like a fantasy to me, or a nightmare.

For those of you who missed the premiere of the new locally produced movie LUCID, there will be an encore screening of this true Key West gem at 8:00pm on Tuesday, at regular movie prices.

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

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