Friday, July 10, 2009

Week of July 10 to July 16 (Mann)

What's on at the TropicBy Phil MannDave Eggers burst on the literary scene in 2000 with his tongue-in-cheekly titled memoir, "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," which quickly rose to #1 on the New York Times best-seller list. In other words, he knows how to get a reader's attention. In the years since he's been busy running his own offbeat publishing company (McSweeney's), setting up a nationwide series of tutoring/writing projects for inner-city youth (826 Valencia projects) and publishing a couple of novels including the striking story of a Somali immigrant, "What Is The What." None of this has anything to do with movies, but when Eggers turns his attention to a screenplay, with his wife Vendela Vita (also a novelist), you know it's going to be a force to be reckoned with.
It's titled AWAY WE GO, and, as if to prove my point, they nailed Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) to direct, and Maya Rudolph of Saturday Night Live fame and John Krasinski from The Office to star. The movie is, contrary to what you might expect, a romantic comedy, the story of a young couple expecting their first child and traveling around the country looking for a place to settle down. Make that a road-movie/romantic comedy. Their adventures are peopled with a collection of outrageous comic characters led by Allison Janney and Maggie Gyllenhaal, who shows us she can do light comedy as well as she does dark characters.

Some reviewers have sniffed at the movie because the lead characters are too good to be true, but who cares? They take us on a rollicking adventure, and even make us think a little. So what else do you want?

Maybe some heavy metal? Then check out ANVIL: THE STORY OF ANVIL, a movie Entertainment Weekly calls “a hilarious, and unexpectedly moving, documentary about the greatest metal band you've probably never heard of.” Who else should I quote? Peter Travers in Rolling Stone, who called it “the heart of rock and roll,” or at the other end of the spectrum The New Yorker, who called it “the most stirring release of the year.” This is not a story of triumph. Anvil is a failed band. They had a brush with success in the early 80’s but now they draw 174 people to an arena holding 10,000. But they’re together and they’re doing their thing, so it’s no downer but “one of the sweetest, funniest films” of the year. (Boston Globe) Give it a shot.

Meanwhile, you’ve got another chance this week to catch Woody Allen’s new comedy, WHATEVER WORKS. Key West is full of Woody Allen fans, and with Larry David in the starring role, it’s just the movie for all of you.

Or come on Monday night for the most off the wall movie ever shown in the weekly classics series, TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE. I don’t know what to say about this one. It’s one of those so-bad it’s good. If classic refers to standout achievement, this is classically bad and classically low-budget ($20,000, they say). Calling all John Waters fans.

More info and schedules at
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[from Key West, the newspaper -]

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