What's on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann
The Tropic is moving into its A.A. period. That's After Awards, when the commotion dies down and we can begin looking at some great movies that don't happen to be clamoring for statuettes. Three new films in that category open this week.
ME AND ORSON WELLS features newcomer Christian McKay in an incredible performance as the incredible Mr. Welles. He's directing his first play for the Mercury Theater company in New York. This is before his notorious War of the Worlds radio show that scared the pants off America, and before Citizen Kane. But the 25-year-old Welles was already the enfant terrible of performing arts.
The play-within-a-movie is a production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, set in Mussolini's Italy. But wrapped into it is a love story between the teen-aged Richard (Zak Efron), who is roped into the production by Welles, and another Mercury theater member, Sonja (Claire Danes). It's "steeped in theater lore... not only entertaining but an invaluable companion to the life and career of the Great Man" (Roger Ebert), and "necessary viewing for anyone whose imagination has been seduced by the charms of art." (New York Times)
THE ROAD brings another of Cormac McCarthy's novels to the screen (following the 2008 Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men), this time a post-Apocalyptic tale of a The Father (Viggo Mortensen) and The Boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) roaming the now desolate countryside (which seems to be in South Florida), trying to reach the sea. There are no animals, no crops, and almost no sunshine through the enveloping haze. The tone is lightened with flashbacks to an earlier life, with Charlize Theron as the wife, but it's otherwise grim. If you're like me, almost any movie with Viggo Mortensen is worth seeing, and this one has him in form as the rare kind of man who could survive in such an environment, and even be a good guy. Yet, as Mortensen has said in inteviews, "there's something uplifting" about the journey.
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN takes us to the suburbs of Paris, and a French film based on the 2004 true story, which became an international incident, of a young girl who falsely claimed she was the victim of an anti-Semitic attack. The girl Jeanne, played by Émilie Dequenne (Rosetta), is an enigma, rebelling against her widowed mother Louise (Catherine Deneuve). The plot draws in Louise's ex-lover, a Jewish activist lawyer, and his troubled family. Complex and layered, as we expect a good French film should be, The Girl on the Train is from well-known director André Téchiné (The Witnesses, Wild Reeds).
All three are the kind of movies that help make the Tropic the extraordinary venue that has won the "Best Cinema in Florida" rating from Florida Monthly magazine. The theater has the best popcorn in South Florida, all fresh-popped with heart-healthy canola oil, but they also have serious and thought-provoking movies to give you something to chew on.
Meanwhile, the eclectic lineup also includes holdovers of the wildly successful CRAZY HEART and THE HURT LOCKER.
Sunday brings an encore production from the European hi def Opera in Cinema Series of IL TROVATORE, from Barcelona.
There's another winner in the Monday Night Classic Murder series, THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS, with Barbara Stanwyck in the title role, plus Van Heflin and Kirk Douglas. She's rich, unscrupulous and with a dark secret. Oscar nominated for Best Screenplay, NoirOfTheWeek.com calls it " a superlative film noir... one of the most superbly realized of the big budget noirs."
[from Solares Hill]