Friday, February 19, 2010

Week of February 19 thru February 25 (Mann)

What's on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

I'm stoked for the opening of BROKEN EMBRACES, the new film from that most unusual, most insightful, most thought-provoking of directors, Pedro Almodovar. The Tropic's unbroken embrace of Almodovar began with a major fund-raiser in 2000 -- a showing of All About My Mother at the San Carlos -- when the Tropic was no more than a gleam in anyone's eye.

I remember watching the reaction of the octogenarian ex-Mayor of Monroe County Wilhelmina Harvey. Invited as a celebrity guest and expecting a proper motherly movie, as she cringed before Almodovar's plot about a deceased child, a transvestite father and a pregnant nun.

Since then, the Tropic has shown everyone of his films -- Talk to Her in 2003, Bad Education in 2005, and Volver in 2007, plus a retrospective of all his older films two years ago. Pedro Almodovar may not be the King of American cinema, but he's unquestionably one of the Princes of the Art House world.

As always, his films are hard to describe. As in Talk to Her, a horrific accident incites the plot, in this case an auto crash that blinds the hero. And, as in All About My Mother and Volver, the female lead is Penélope Cruz. I won't say more, except that BROKEN EMBRACES "is irresistible." (New York Magazine). "It ravished me," says Roger Ebert.

The Academy Awards draw nigh. The big night is Sunday, March 7, just a little over two weeks away. The newspaper advertising spreads (if you are addicted to a real-world newspaper, as I am) seem to be struggling single-handedly to overcome the financial woes of print media, and the interviews with actors and directors fill the airwaves. It's the thinking-man's March Madness, with a final ten instead of four.

The Tropic's Oscar Gala this year will be in the main Carper Theater. Party with all your Tropic friends as the ceremonies unwind on the big screen, from beginning (7:00pm) to end. Tickets on sale now at the box office or online.

You can also buy Tropic Oscar ballots to test your cinema acuity. Fill out as many ballots as you like, for $5 a pop. Win free movies for a year, or a bunch of free passes. The ballots are available now at the theater, and must be turned in before the first award is announced on Sunday night.

Two of the ten Best Picture nominees continue at the Tropic, THE BLIND SIDE (Best Picture and Best Actress-Sandra Bullock) and AN EDUCATION (Best Picture, Best Actress-Carrie Mulligan and Best Screenplay-Nick Hornby). They're joined by two others of the Oscar anointed -- CRAZY HEART (Best Actor-Jeff Bridges and Best Supporting Actress-Maggie Gyllenhaal) and THE LOVELY BONES (Best Supporting Actor-Stanley Tucci). So you can hone your knowledge with a few screenings.

The Tropic, by the way, has shown 8 out of 10 Best Picture nominees, 4 out of 5 named in the Best Director category, all 5 named for Best Actor, 4 of 5 from the Best Actress category, 3 of 5 Best Supporting Actor films, and all 5 Best Supporting Actress films. As always, it's the place to come for winners.

It's also a place that honors local talent. Two short films made by local filmmakers and set in Key West follow their celebratory opening last Wednesday with a full week run starting Friday, February 19. That's THE NEWCOMER, the saga of Key West's first gay mayor and early AIDS casualty Richard Heyman; and AUDIENCE WITH THE QUEENS, a backstage look at Sushi and her cohorts at 801 Duval. Both filmmakers will be on hand for Q & A at selected screenings.

Comments, please, to
[from Key West, the newspaper -]

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