Thursday, November 12, 2009

Week of Nov. 13 to Nov. 19 (Mann)

What's on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

There's a line my partner uses on me: "You're very seldom right, but this time you're wrong."

That's what I wanted to shout at the mass of movie critics when I saw AMELIA, the bio-pic of famed aviatrix, Amelia Earhart, now going into its second week at the Tropic. A common critical complaint seems to be that the movie "just tells the story" of her life. Well, duh, with a life like hers that's more than enough.

A girl from Kansas who would rather wear pants than a wedding ring, she became the first woman to solo across the Atlantic and the nation's sweetheart. Her life is the stuff of legends, and Director Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair) and Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby) capture it dramatically. If you want the real scoop, just ask one of the hundreds of locals who have seen it over the past week. The movie has been enough of a hit for the Tropic to move it into the big Carper Theater auditorium. So now Amelia and her Lockheed Electra are swooping across an even bigger screen.

Also continuing its run is another bio-pic, COCO BEFORE CHANEL, the story of the early life of the fashion icon. Coco's life may not have had the winged drama of Amelia's, but the two were sisters in spirit, both strong-willed and committed to making their mark in a world that offered little room for such women.

Maybe it's a coincidence, but the theme that Craig Wanous has chosen for this month's Monday Night Movie Classics is "Wild, Wonderful Women." Joining Amelia and Coco on Monday night will be Mamie Van Doren as a Venusian woman in the sci-fi/spoof film VOYAGE TO THE PLANET OF PREHISTORIC WOMEN. Mamie, for those of you too young to remember, started her movie career with great promise as Universal Studios tried to do with her what 20th Century Fox had done with Marilyn Monroe. But that was in the '50s. By 1968 Mamie was off on Venus wearing a clam shell bra over her 38DD pair. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, who would hit the big time with The Last Picture Show three years later, it's quite a combination of talents.

Have you been to the new Peggy Dow theater yet? It's still lacking a few cosmetic touches, but this new space has quickly become my favorite of the Tropic's four screening rooms. This week it's showing a wonderful little film, NEW YORK, I LOVE YOU. Ten well-known directors each made an eight minute short about love and marriage in New York City. Mira Nair (Amelia) features Natalie Portman as a Hasidic woman about to marry and, as required by her religion, cut off her beautiful hair. There's Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman as a quarrelsome married couple, and Orlando Bloom and Christina Ricci as young lovers . Some segments are great, others not so, but if you're bored you can always look around and admire the beautiful new theater for eight minutes until the next one starts.

Looking for something more serious? FLAME AND CITRON is a Danish World War II noir political thriller. The eponymous leads are part of the resistance who murder traitors to their cause as well as the Gestapo. Based on a true story of two men who became Danish national heroes, it is reputedly the most expensive Danish movie ever made. That shows in a very stylized, and stylish production to accompany the tense events on screen. The critics have loved this one. I think this may be one of those seldom cases where they're right.

[from Key West, the newspaper -]

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