Friday, August 7, 2009

Week of August 7 to August 13 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
By Phil Mann

It's the battle of the rom-coms this week. Romantic comedies, that is.

In the red trunks, from Hollywood, U. S. A. we have Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in one of this summer's sleeper hits -- The Proposal -- held over for another week. They've got the classic Tracy-Hepburn moves down pat. A most unlikely couple, thrown together by unlikely circumstance, find true love. In this case it's a bitch boss and her seemingly lame assistant.

In the blue trunks, opening this week from Indie Film Land, we have (500) Days of Summer. The differences could not be more apparent. Instead of caricatures, we have characters. Instead of a linear story we have flashbacks and twists. The director comes from the world of music videos, this being his first feature, and that background shows through with musical interludes.

Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Leavitt) is smitten with Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel) from the moment he sees her. She likes him, too, and they hook up as sweet young people are wont to do in this day and age. But she doesn’t want to make a big commitment. Because this is a modern indie movie, and not a formulaic one, we are never really sure where the story is going or how it’s going to get there, except that it’s going to take almost two years (500 days) to play out. Meanwhile, as Rolling Stone puts it, “the sublimely smart-sexy-joyful-sad (500) Days of Summer hits you like a blast of pure romantic oxygen.”

For those of you who have been worried that the Tropic has lost its alternative film mojo, there’s a lot more than (500) Days to reassure you this week.

Rudo Y Cursi is a new film from Mexico starring Gael Garcia Bernal (The Motorcycle Diaries, Bad Education) and Diego Luna (Milk, Y Tu Mama Tambien). They play brothers whose lives surge from rural peasant farming to big money soccer stars when a scout discovers them. Needless to say, the going isn’t smooth, but it’s fun for the audience in this light-hearted buddy comedy that’s “lively and engaging.” (New York Times) The name of the new production company formed to make this movie is a tipoff to its tone – Cha Cha Cha.

And on the documentary front, you can see Afghan Star, for an amazing insight into the new Afghanistan. From the days of Taliban rule with singing banned and women wrapped in burquas, the country is now home to the Asian version of American Idol, with millions following, and voting on, female as well as male televised performers. The movie follows four contestants who are immensely popular, but also at risk of their lives, as they sing their hearts out.

With this selection, it’s a good week to beginning filling up your Summer Sizzles card. See ten movies before November 1, and the next one is free. Just ask for a card at the box office.

[from Key West, the newspaper -]

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