Thursday, January 28, 2010

Week of January 29 to February 4 (Mann)

What's on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

Three new movies, two great holdovers, an opera and a classic. What are you waiting for?

We haven't had a big musical film in a while, so fans of that genre will welcome NINE, the new film from Rob Marshall, director/choreographer of Chicago. If ever a Broadway musical was destined for the screen, this 1982 Tony Award winner is it. The story is based -- very loosely -- on Frederico Fellini's struggles with life, love and filmmaking, depicted in his famed film 8 1/2, the period between his eighth and ninth movies.

Daniel Day-Lewis is Guido Contini, a filmmaker who, in addition to dealing with his creative block, must contend with an array of women -- his muse (Nicole Kidman), his mistress (Penelope Cruz), his wife (Marion Cotillard), and a stalking journalist (Kate Hudson), while a couple more females try to help him out -- his costume designer (Judi Dench), and, in flashback, his mother (Sophia Loren). They all have songs, and being a Rob Marshall movie, all are supported by big, bold production values. The roots of Nine may be in Italian cinema, but this is unquestionably a Hollywood musical with spectacles that Busby Berkeley might be smiling down upon.

Nine is "loud, brash, brassy, sexy and sometimes tacky or silly, but always entertaining," says the Wall St. Journal. It won the Satellite Award for Best Musical of 2009, and was nominated for Golden Globes and Broadcast Film Critics Awards in that category.

NO IMPACT MAN, is another of those movies about people who undertake offbeat challenges. Remember Supersize Me, in which Morgan Spurlock ate nothing but fast food for a month? Or Julie Powell who cooked her way through Julia Child? Well, No Impact Man is the opposite. Colin Beavan persuaded his wife to join him in living for year without impacting the economy. Living off the grid, so to speak (no electricity, no heat or AC), eating only local produce, and using no transport, not even buses. And, oh yes, no toilet paper. Tough, eh. Well they really did it, and in Manhattan, with a two-year-old child. Seeing is believing... all this week at the Tropic.

THE BEACHES OF AGNÈS is also a documentary, about the well-known director Agnès Varda. Made by Varda herself, the film is more of a cinematic poem than a routine life narrative. We see marvelous scenes like Varda setting up a shot on a beach with vertical mirrors. It doesn't make any sense until the final visual appears, and then we understand. That's the essence of filmmaking: it starts with the director's vision. She is one of the founders of the French New Wave, a friend and colleague of Godard and Belmondo, and was married to Umbrellas of Cherbourg director Jacques Demy. The Beaches, winner of the French Cesar award, is a Valentine to her late husband, and to the art of film.

Speaking of the art of film, Tom Ford's A SINGLE MAN, held over for another week, is one of the most beautiful movies ever made. Not because of the scenery but because it is the work of a master designer. That is enough reason to see it. But more than that, it is a moving story of the love between two men, based on an iconic, devastating Isherwood novel that speaks to anyone who has lost a lover. The Tropic's film programmer had his eye on this Venice Film Festival Queer Lion winner from the moment it was announced. Word to the wise: this will probably be its last week here.

This week's opera is Verdi's comic opera FALSTAFF, performed at the Royal Opera House in Liège, Belgium. That's Tuesday night.

And the Monday Night Classic is Carole Lombard and Federic March in NOTHING SACRED, a 1937 screwball comedy written by Ben Hecht, with a score by Oscar Levant.

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[from Key West, the newspaper -]

1 comment:

wine of the month club said...

No Impact Man sounds interesting. May have to give it a go.