Friday, March 27, 2009

Week of March 27 to April 2 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
By Phil Mann

Completing its screening of the top Academy Award nominees, the Tropic opens FROST/NIXON this week.

The movie is a fascinating character study of two faded men, both trying to resurrect their careers. David Frost (Michael Sheen, who was Tony Blair in The Queen) is a sometimes popular, but never profound, television host who manages to nail a lengthy multipart interview with Richard Nixon (Frank Langella, of Dracula fame), only four years after Nixon’s ignominious departure from the Presidency.

For Frost, who’s almost broke and reduced to rustling up money with vague promises and half-truths, the interviews are a chance to leap back into the limelight… or fall flat on his face. For Nixon, it’s a chance to put his spin on the Watergate story and remind the public of what a great man they tossed in the ashcan.

The two actors both play unlikeable characters, but we can’t help rooting for Frost as he tries to transcend his less-than-overwhelming interviewing skills to best the still-Presidential Nixon. The plot builds as Frost puts together an investigative team of liberal journalists. They revel in the opportunity to provide the public with the “trial” that Nixon avoided by quitting before impeachment.

The movie becomes a tense thriller as the confrontation unrolls to a dramatic conclusion. FROST/NIXON had five Oscar nominations, including Best Director (Ron Howard), Best Adapted Screenplay (Peter Morgan) and Best Actor (Langella), as well as Best Picture.

WALTZ WITH BASHIR was also an Academy Award nominee this year, for Best Foreign Language Film. Get ready for something completely different. This is an animated film, but as far as you can get from Disney. Israeli Filmmaker Ari Folman is a documentarian and has used almost realistic, graphic-novel-like, animation to probe a tragedy that many Israelis would like to forget. During his country’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, there was a massacre at a Palestinian refugee camp. The killers directly responsible were Christian militia, but whether or not there was Israeli complicity has never been determined. Taking a viewpoint of a friend of his who was involved in the invasion, Folman pursues the question that has become a contemporary moral staple: when is passivity complicity? As the Japanese proverb puts it, “To know and not to act is not to know.” Maybe the Israelis are ready to know. The movie swept this year’s Israeli film awards with seven prizes, including Best Picture and Best Director. Sort of like a movie about Abu Ghraib or Gitmo winning the American awards.

Special events this week include Shostakovich’s ballet BOLT performed by the Bolshoi Theater, and two film classics, CHARADE starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, and Robert Ryan in the boxing drama THE SETUP.

Save the date: Saturday, April 4, for the Tropic’s Gala Fifth Birthday party. Free movies, a special information meeting for Key West Film Society members, groundbreaking ceremonies for the new fourth theater space, and a celebratory party. Check the Special Events page at for details, or come back to this column next week.

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

No comments: