Friday, June 19, 2009

Week of June 19 to June 25

What’s on at the Tropic
By Phil Mann

Sometimes you know you’re in the hands of a master. Sam Raimi, the writer-director of Spider-Man 1, 2 and 3 (with numbers 4 and 5 in the works), knows how to catch your attention with a dramatic jump cut and in-your-face villain. And he’s working a horror string with The Evil Dead I and II (with numbers III and IV in the works). DRAG ME TO HELL, his new horror-pic opening at the Tropic today, sends shivers up your spine in the opening scene, and it never lets them stop, except when you break out laughing at the absurdity of it all.

The heroine, Christine (Alison Lohman), is an otherwise kindly bank loan officer, who in an attempt to prove she can be tough, turns down an old Gypsy woman. Oh, fateful day. Christine is no pushover, more like an action hero, as she fights off the Gypsy, now transformed into a ghastly apparition, who must pause from time-to-time when her false-teeth fangs fall out. She enlists the aid of a fortuneteller, with expertise in warding off such curses, whose not-always-helpful advice just ratchets up the action. Christine, who starts off as a sweet country girl, becomes a wet-t-shirt warrior. But will she defeat the Lamia? I won’t tell, but be assured that it’s “fearsomely scary, wickedly funny and diabolically gross” (L.A. Times). What else could you want on a summer evening?

Okay, I know what else. A Noel Coward drawing room comedy. Not to worry, EASY VIRTUE is here. From writer-director Stephan Elliot, who brought us the over-the-top drag comedy Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, this new work is sort of a “Meet the Parents” set in a British country house in the 1930’s. Kristin Scott Thomas and Colin Firth are the upper crust parents ensconced in their aging pile, and Jessica Biel is the sexy American racecar driver and new wife, brought home by their son Ben Barnes. Throw in two snooty daughters, thirties music and some riding to the hounds, and you can see why this ”deliciously cheeky screen adaptation …. will charm your pants off” (Village Voice).

Or do you want something more serious? Well, there’s TERMINATOR: SALVATION the latest in this CGI-driven series that has left Schwarzenegger behind. The fate of the world, as usual, is at stake – but not for real. For some reality, please turn to THREE MONKEYS from Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, winner of last year’s Best Director award at Cannes. A politician involved in a hit-and-run accident persuades his driver to take the rap. The ensuing drama is “a ripe and pulpy melodrama that might have originated in a James M. Cain novel” (New York Times), but with the pacing and sensibility of one of Europe’s master directors.

Rounding out the week is LA STRADA, one show only, in the Monday Night Classics series.

And get your tickets and your costume ready for next Friday, June 26. It’s the sing-a-long version of MAMA MIA. Door prizes, karaoke, and a champagne/wedding cake reception after the show. You’re all invited!

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

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