Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Week of May 14 to May 20 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

I kept a boat on New York’s City Island for a while, so I know the place. If you can imagine Key West uprooted and dropped alongside the Bronx, you might have an idea. The old, raffish Key West, that is. The new movie CITY ISLAND, set on this geographical oddity, is a family story, about a family full of people with secret lives that would feel right at home on our southernmost island.

The father Vincent Rizzo (Andy Garcia) is a corrections officer (don’t say “prison guard”) who really wants to be an actor. His son Vince, Jr. (Ezra Miller) has unusual sex fantasies, while his daughter Vivian (played by Garcia’s own daughter Dominik García-Lorido) isn’t exactly the college student her parents think she is.

But those aren’t the only secrets in this family. Vincent has an even bigger one, and it’s the core of this serio-comic working-class story. No spoilers here, but it involves a handsome hunk of an ex-con (Steven Strait, buff and bold from 10,000 B.C.).

Writer-director Raymond De Fellita has begun to make a modest name for himself with quiet domestic dramas. City Island, a real crowd-pleaser that won the Audience Award at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, may be his breakthrough movie. Producing company Paradigm Productions is said to have put De Fellita and Andy Garcia together. It’s a great arranged marriage.

Though you wouldn’t expect it, there’s even a bit of humor in LOURDES, a narrative film about Christine, a girl with MS who seeks a cure at the fabled French shrine. Sylvia Testud is wonderfully appealing as Christine. You’ll remember her as Edith Piaf’s sidekick Mômone in La Vie En Rose. Lourdes is not a film that tries to explain, investigate, or debunk the healing claims, but rather an“intelligent, rigorously thoughtful, somewhat sly film” (New York Times), “a cosmic black comedy that bumps up against the metaphysical” (Time Out New York). Guess you’ll have to see it to know.

That’s probably not for the kids, but THE SECRET OF KELLS most definitely is. From the production team that gave us the wonderful The Triplets of Bellville, this animated film was nominated for the 2010 Academy Award by some folks who appreciated an alternative to the Disney-Pixar style. There’s a real Book of Kells, a famous medieval illustrated manuscript in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. The movie is the story of a young monk, Brendan, and his adventures to help complete the book. The kids will love the quest adventure, and you’ll marvel at the majestic, illuminated-manuscript-inspired art. A treasure.

And, as they say, last but not least, is a documentary about The Doors and Jim Morrison, WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE. It’s not a talking heads doc, full of interviews. This is an unvarnished Music doc, full of all The Doors music and archival footage, including clips from a movie that Morrison made of himself. “A trippy, fascinating documentary… a mesmerizing, behind-the-music glimpse at a crucial and bizarre moment in rock history. Damn! This shit is powerful, dude.” ( Come on baby, Light My Fire!

[from Key West, the newspaper -]

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