Friday, March 5, 2010

Week of March 5 to March 11 (Mann)

What's on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

I don't know if you've ever seen Blue Man Group, a wonderfully inventive team of performance artists who stage a combination musical/artistic/comedy routine all while covered in blue paint. It's become a worldwide phenomenon with troupes from Tokyo to Las Vegas. I couldn't help thinking of them while reading about AVATAR, which has now found its way from North Roosevelt Boulevard to the Tropic Cinema.

Avatar, as you of course know, is Blue Man Group meets Star Wars, with the blue people on a distant planet. It's been called everything from "a quantum leap in movie magic" (Chicago Reader) to "stupendously friggin' rad" (Slate), and is shattering box office records. Along the way, it has picked up nine Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Score -- not to speak of the Best Visual Effects, which may be the surest bet at Sunday's award ceremonies.

Avatar may not be the Tropic's usual fare, but as cinematic breakthrough it well deserves a place in any theater devoted to the art of film. So, if you haven't seen it yet, or haven't had a chance to enjoy it in a pristine environment, pop down to the theater this week where it will have a full run -- except for Sunday night when the theater will be turned over to a live broadcast of the 2010 Academy Award Ceremonies.

This year's Oscar Gala at the Tropic will occupy only the main Carper Theater. So if you're disposed to see a an award-nominated movie instead of sitting through the TV show, the other three screens will be running their regular programs. THE LAST STATION (Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress), CRAZY HEART (Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress) and all the OSCAR NOMINATED SHORTS (both Live Action and Animated) are held over.

Joining these holdovers is the opening of another award nominee, THE MESSENGER. Woody Harrelson (Best Actor) and Ben Foster are an Army team dispatched to inform the next of kin that a loved one has been killed. Not an easy job, and not an easy film. But the tension between the two men -- Harrelson is a tough guy, but not a war hero; while Foster is softer, but with a medal for bravery -- and how it plays out, drives the story forward. The Messenger is another of a group of Iraq-Afghanistan war movies, like In the Valley of Elah and Lions for Lambs, that focus on the home front implications. Even the much acclaimed The Hurt Locker, while taking place mostly in Iraq, has much to do with what goes on back in the North Carolina. This is not an era of John Wayne war movies.

Heading the Special Events calendar is a repeat performance of the JAZZ DUO PIANO CONCERT on Saturday at noon. Regular tickets are $30, but students of any age are admitted free, along with an accompanying adult. That's free, as in F-R-E-E. An amazing opportunity.

On Sunday, there's a repeat performance of CARMEN from La Scala at 1:00pm, and, of course, the big Academy Awards show in the evening at 8:00pm.

Monday Movie Classics has the theme of murder this month. This week it's JIGSAW (1949) starring Franchot Tone, with uncredited bit roles for John Garfield, Henry Fonda and Burgess Meredith. The movie was an early effort to shoot in actual locations in New York rather than the studio-lot focus of Hollywood films. And the story, featuring hate-mongering right wing "Crusaders," has contemporary undertones.

And on Tuesday evening at 7:30 HOMETOWN PAC sponsors a free State of the Island forum.
Get out and enjoy yourself at the warm! Tropic.

Full schedule and details at
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1 comment:

Action Movie said...

The movie was the first to use a fully rendered CGI character in a hand drawn environment, not to even mention the most emotional ending of an animated movie I've ever seen.