Friday, December 25, 2009

Week of Dec. 25 to Dec. 31 (Mann)

What's on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

They're deeply into holiday time at the Tropic, standing by for your viewing pleasure. The theater is open every day, Christmas included. It's a gift to you from the wonderful, dedicated staff and volunteer team. So get on down, see a movie, and give them the gift of your smiling presence.

There are plenty of reasons to come, most importantly four great, award-nominated films. The new show in town is UP IN THE AIR, which just opened this past Wednesday. Director Jason Reitman started development of this movie in the good old days before the Great Recession, but it couldn't be more mordantly well timed. Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a professional downsizer, traveling across America firing people with a well developed patter: "I'm a wake up call. This is a rebirth." Seeing how his subjects suffer in direct proportion to their attachments, he resists commitment to anything except his frequent flyer mileage account. The subject is serious, but the tone is light, and the accolades are piling on.

Held over is PRECIOUS: from the novel Push by Sapphire. You've surely heard about this one, so I won't add anything except to say that it's worth seeing for the performance of Mo'nique as the abusive mother of Claireece "Precious" Jones alone.

Also held over are INVICTUS, Clint Eastwood's story of the molding of the new South African nation through rugby,; and FANTASTIC MR. FOX, Wes Anderson's animated rendition of the Roald Dahl tale of a devilish fox.

On the Special Events front, the Tropic will be hosting a visit by Aaron Wolff, the young man who played the Bar Mitzvah boy in A Serious Man. You'll see some clips from the movie, and then Aaron will be interviewed on stage and take questions. All of you who enjoyed this Coen brother's hit will want to meet Aaron. Free to members of the Film Society at 6:00pm on Monday, preceding the Monday Night Classic movie.

This week's classic is CHRISTMAS STORY. No, not the well-known "A Christmas Story" about the boy who wants a BB gun, but a new Finnish movie about how Santa Claus came to be the gift-giving marvel we all love so well. A record-breaking hit in Finland, now dubbed in English, it won the Audience Award at the Sarasota Film Festival. This special treat will be shown for kids (and accompanying adults) on Saturday at the 12:30pm kids matinee (free), as well as Monday night.

There's also another opera, this time COSI FAN TUTTE from the Salzburg Festival. It's a striking modern-dress production of this Mozart opera buffa about two men who, in disguise, seduce each other's fiancées. In movie speak, you might call it a romantic comedy. A great introduction to opera for newbies.

This is my last column of 2009, so I thought I should leave you with a list of my favorites for the year. I've excluded movies currently showing, limiting the list to ones that have passed into the great queue in the sky. Here, in roughly chronological order by release date, are ten movies I would go out of my way to see again:

Let the Right One In (Swedish vampires)
Julie and Julia (femme lib through cooking)
Inglourious Basterds
(boys will be boys)
Valentino (unless they're not)
Everlasting Moments (femme lib through photography)
Hurt Locker (male lib through exposure to death)
An Education (there's more than one way to learn)
A Serious Man (oy vey)
35 Shots of Rum (a slice of French working-class life)
Pirate Radio (just plain fun, with music)

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