Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Week of April 16 to April 22 (Mann)

What's on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

It's a week for music lovers at the Tropic.

Heading the bill is THE RUNAWAYS, the story of Joan Jett and Cherie Currie's mid-70's teen-girl rock band. Directed by music video legend Floria Sigismondi, it's "a portrait of excess, including lots of sex, drugs and rampaging groupies. But its bigger focus is on the transformative powers of rock 'n' roll." (

It stars the Twilight duo of Kristen Stewart (The Yellow Handkerchief) and Dakota Fanning (The Secret Life of Bees) as Joan and Cherie. They do their own singing, and have music like Cherry Bomb to keep the scene hopping. If you were there, then, it's a chance to recapture your youth. But come on, you young'uns, too, to the Tropic for a rocking good show, and maybe learn a little about the underside of the music biz. It's on every day, all week.

And then there are two very special music events.

Saturday night brings us THE GRATEFUL DEAD: CRIMSON, WHITE AND INDIGO. It's a three hour live concert performance, a newly remastered mix, in 5.1 surround sound, of their July, 1989 concert at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. The three-DVD set will be released next week, but you can see it big and bold with your buds (friends, not flowers, that is). One show only starting at 8:00pm.

If your tastes are more classical, the next in the Tropic's live operas from Europe is Mozart's THE ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO. This performance is delivered live from the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona at 2:00pm on Wednesday (8:00pm in Spain), with an encore broadcast at 7:00pm that night. Sung in German, with English subtitles, this innovative modern-dress production runs over three hours, plus two intermissions.

It's your choice. Three hours of Mozart, or of Jerry Garcia. Name your pleasure.

There are regular movies, too, from biopic to comedy to thriller.

CREATION is a "moody, and strangely moving, vignette" (Phila. Inquirer) about Charles Darwin's struggle with the implications of his work. The defining event of the movie is not his scientific discoveries but the early death of his daughter, and how that affected his faith and that of his wife. The real-life husband and wife team of Paul Bettany (The Young Victoria, Master and Commander) and Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, Reservation Road) portray the Darwins.

MID-AUGUST LUNCH is an Italian comedy-drama about a cheerful gent of a certain age saddled with the job of entertaining a passel of elderly mamas. "The movie glows," says the New York Times about these Golden Girls and their cuddly escort.

The thriller is TERRIBLY HAPPY, a Danish delight that the New York Times calls a "diabolical comedy" as well as an "expertly constructed psychological thriller," all the while being "wickedly entertaining." Like The White Ribbon, it's set in a rural European town full of secrets that the hero, a reassigned cop from Copenhagen, must uncover. The title is ironic; the setting is a grim boggy land; and the characters could easily find homes in a David Lynch film.

If you haven't yet seen it, ALICE IN WONDERLAND with Johnny Depp is held over, along with THE GHOST WRITER and CHLOE.

Not enough? You want more? How about the new Disney nature epic OCEANS? The successor to last year's Earth, it opens as a special presentation for Earth Day, April 22. Filmed by the team that made Winged Migration, it's full of incredible footage of the watery world, including interspecies battles and majestic aquatic athleticism. The Tropic is doing special shows for school classes. Call Lori at 294-5857 for information.

A word of warning. You might wonder how the Tropic team manages to fit so much into a four-screen theater. It's all in the scheduling, which can get complex, and varies from day to day. So check your showtimes calendar carefully. And thank Matthew, Lori, Scot and Patricia for reintroducing the spreadsheet calendar at, and for all their hard work.

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