Saturday, May 23, 2009

Week of May 22-May 28 (Mann)

What's on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

What a busy week. Three new feature films, plus a smorgasbord of classics.

My favorite, because it's so close-to-home and yet other worldly, is TOKYO SONATA. A Japanese  executive loses his substantial job because it's cheaper for his boss to hire foreign workers. He's too ashamed to admit it to his wife, so he continues to go off to work every day, finding other work as a janitor. His wife finds out, but keeps the secret to hold the family together. Meanwhile his two sons are rebelling, with one sneaking off to piano lessons and the other trying to join the American army to fight in Iraq. It's serious, but it's comic, too, and ultimately uplifting. calls it “a work of tremendous passion, daring and delicacy,” while the Chicago Tribune says it's “a beautifully controlled oddball of a picture,” and the Boston Globe compares it to a David Lynch “farcical dystopia.” Now that's an interesting movie! It was a hit at last year's New York Film Festival.

IS ANYBODY THERE? is also about a man who has lost his way, but in a more ordinary context. Michael Caine is the Amazing Clarence, a magician whose skills have gone stale. He has moved into a retirement home, where he bonds with the owner's ten-year-old son and passes on his tricks, as his own life slips away. This one is also darkly comic, and a terrific vehicle for Sir Michael to demonstrate why we all love him. As Rolling Stone puts it: “Blending humor and heartbreak in a performance that makes a small movie a richly satisfying one, Caine truly is magic.” Yet, it's been much reported in the press that his wife cried when she saw the movie, probably because she saw where the future might be taking him (and all of us).

Maybe the Tropic's theme for this week is “men who have lost their way.” In THE SOLOIST Jamie Foxx is Nathaniel Ayers, a street musician whose skills are intact, but whose mind isn't. Robert Downey, Jr. plays L.A. Times reporter Steve Lopez in this true story of a journalist's attempt to go beyond the story to become his subject's keeper. It is “a moving tribute to friendship and the power of music” says USA Today.

 These three movies, along with the continuing run of Disney's EARTH, will be showing every day.

 Added to that are the Special Events classics. If you want to escape the heat (or rain) on Saturday afternoon, you can catch the slapstick comedy MY FAVORITE BRUNETTE with Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour and Peter Lorre. or the deadly serious Hitchcock thriller REAR WINDOW with James Stewart and Grace Kelly. The Monday Night Classic, presented by Mary Sparaccio of local Paradise TV is PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK from Aussie director Peter Weir. This movie about the mysterious disappearance of several school girls on a summer excursion in 1900 is fraught with sinister Stephen-King-like undertones, and gained fame as Australia's “first international hit” when released in 1975. Perhaps it's because Vincent Canby in the New York Times called it “both spooky and sexy.”

Full info and schedules at
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