Friday, May 29, 2009

Week of May 29 to June 4 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
By Phil Mann

Key West is a baseball hotbed. So is the Dominican Republic. So all you baseball fans will appreciate SUGAR, the story of a 19-year-old Dominican pitcher who is discovered by scouts and shipped off to Iowa for a run in the American minor leagues. SUGAR (the nickname of the lead character) is part baseball movie (“best baseball movie ever” and part human-interest look at the struggles of a youth in a foreign land (”authentic inside view of the immigrant experience” – Entertainment Weekly), but overall a great movie (“A film of rare intelligence, beauty and compassion.” Washington Post).

It’s another of those movies that you can see only at a theater like the Tropic. No stars, no hype, no full-page ads in all the newspapers, or television commercials. Just a great film. The writer-directors are Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, whose last effort, Half Nelson featuring Ryan Gosling as an inner-city schoolteacher, got an Oscar nomination and a half-dozen Independent Spirit nominations. They’re a team to watch.

Backing Sugar up, with a bit more star power, is LYMELIFE. Lyme disease is messing up lives in a suburban Long Island community, and Scott Bartlett (Rory Culkin) is a 15-year-old who has to deal with it, along with an unrequited love, a disaffected older brother who’s running away to the Army (Kieran Culkin), and a philandering father (Alec Baldwin) who’s screwing the mother (Cynthia Nixon) of Scott’s wanna-be girlfriend. Roger Ebert calls it “a tender, sometimes painful, sometimes blackly comic, story.”

Foreign-movie fans will love LEMON TREE, an Israeli film that captures one of those sad human dramas that lurks behind the political and military news that takes over the front pages. A Palestinian widow finds her lemon tree grove threatened when the Israeli Defense Minister moves in next door and wants to cut it down. (He thinks it will provide cover for terrorists.) But she fights back, with the unexpected support of the minister’s wife. Based on a true story, the New York Times calls it “a wrenching, richly layered feminist allegory, as well as a geopolitical one.”

If all this rare intelligence, tender and painful drama and richly layered allegory are too much for you, the Tropic has an alternative, X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERVINE. See this prequel to the X-Men movies and find out how Wolverine got his healing powers and his retractable claws. See mutants, old and new. See Hugh Jackman’s muscles. See CGI, lots and lots of CGI!

The Saturday matinee revival program this week features Gregory Peck as a wounded hunter, and Ava Gardner and Susan Hayward as his lovers in Hemingway’s THE SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO (1952), and the Hitchcock in hi def movie TORN CURTAIN (1966) with Paul Newman and Julie Andrews as innocents drawn into a cold-war spy thriller.

The Monday night classic is THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER a retelling of the Faust legend set in 19th century New Hampshire. When Jabez Stone, the farmer who made the pact with the devil, finds his time is up, he hires the great lawyer Daniel Webster to save him, and a trial ensues with such luminaries as Benedict Arnold on the jury. In other words, it’s a uniquely American spin on the legend.

Save the date! Coming on June 26 at the Tropic, the MAMA-MIA Sing-A-Long. Full wedding dress optional!

Full info and schedules at
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[from Key West, the newpaper]

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