Saturday, October 24, 2009

Week of October 23 to October 30 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
By Phil Mann

Jane Campion, the writer/director of BRIGHT STAR is hard to pin down. The movie that made her reputation was The Piano (1993). That was a period piece set in 19th century New Zealand. Her last film was In the Cut, a very contemporary crime-drama in which Meg Ryan tried to escape her reputation as a good girl.

In her new film, Campion turns to historical drama, with a presentation of the brief love affair between John Keats and his neighbor, Fanny Brawne. This is Romance in the purest sense. Keats is, of course, the idealization of the ethereal, passionate poet. And Fanny is the quintessential headstrong 18-year old girl who knows she has found her true love. The setting is the beautifully photographed lush English countryside. But their love relationship is doomed by two of the terrors of Georgian-Regency England, a lack of money and tuberculosis. Keats has both.

Like all good movie romances, the two don’t hit it off immediately. Fanny is a bit too fascinated by clothes and style to suit the serious Mr. Keats and his pal, while he is too shy and bookish to captivate her at first. But true love e’re finds its way. And the poetic pen of Mr. Keats finds its way into love letters that no girl can resist.

It didn’t last for long. Keats was sent off to Italy on doctor’s orders, and soon perished. But oh, those three years until it ends! As puts it, “an unfussy, passionate and gently erotic love story, …. Bright Star burns, and it glows.”

EARTH DAY, a documentary about the founding of the environmental movement is, as the New York Times says, “less a rousing call to action than a bittersweet stroll down memory lane.” Whether you date the movement from the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962, or the first Earth Day in 1970, it’s very recent and yet so long ago. The movie focuses on several pioneers who are still around to tell their stories about the days when being “green” was being weird rather than being President.

You’ll learn a lot – can you believe that Richard Nixon started the EPA? You’ll enjoy meeting Steward Udall, Paul Ehrlich, Steward Brand, Stephanie Mills and others. You’ll be encouraged at how far we’ve come and discouraged at how far we’ve got to go, and you’ll be enthralled by the beauty of the footage.

If you insist on a rousing call to action, Michael Moore’s CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY continues its popular run for another week.

This week’s Monday Night Classic is in the spirit of Fantasy Fest. An over-the-top horror double feature: ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES (1959), produced under the watchful eye of trashmaster Roger Corman, and THE VAMPIRE BAT (1933). The latter stars Fay Wray and was made in the same year as her famed King Kong. She made eleven feature films that year, proving that if you try often enough you’re likely to succeed.

[from Key West, the newspaper -]

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