Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Week of July 2 to July 8 (Mann)

What’s Up at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

How about seeing a film that Roger Ebert calls “one of Michael Douglas’ finest performances?” Whether you like Douglas or not, you have to admit that he’s established a powerful persona as an immoral but nonetheless charming man – think Gordon Gecko in Wall Street. That role will be reprised next fall in a sequel, Wall Street Never Sleeps.

But you don’t have to wait until the fall, because he’s starring right now in SOLITARY MAN, which opens at the Tropic this week. Ben Kalmen (Douglas) is a man who once had everything – family, business success, professional acclaim – and managed to lose it all in a spiral of self-destructive actions that seem endlessly repeating. Like last year’s similarly named A Serious Man, this is a black comedy with some very dark moments. But the two Men could not be more different. The “Serious Man” was endlessly good, seeking an explanation for why his earthly rewards were not commensurate. The “Solitary Man” is almost endlessly bad, and reaps both the rewards and punishments that naturally accrue.

With a supporting cast of Mary Louise Parker, Susan Sarandon and Danny DeVito, the result is “a sharp, small-scale comedy of male misbehavior that turns out to be one of this dreary spring’s pleasant cinematic surprises.” (New York Times) Put it on your list.

A character like Douglas’s is one we sometimes call “a piece of work,” a remarkable, though not necessarily admirable, individual. For a real-life example, look no further than Joan Rivers, and that’s the title of her life-documentary JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK. The filmmakers, two women who previously made a documentary about Darfur, followed Ms. Rivers for almost a year on her hectic schedule of standup and show appearances, including a stint on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice. As she says of herself at one point, “there’s nothing Joan won’t do” and by the end you believe it, maybe adding “there’s nothing she won’t say,” and “there’s no one she won’t attack.” If you’re ready for a rip roaring, politically incorrect hour and half, you’ve come to the right place.

Legendary filmmaker James Ivory and his long-time screenwriting collaborator Ruth Prawer Jhabvala join again for THE CITY OF YOUR FINAL DESTINATION to bring us “as pure an example of the Merchant Ivory brand of upscale literary cinema as devotees of ‘Howards End,’ ‘A Room With a View’ and ‘The Remains of the Day’ could ask for.” (New York Times)

The setting is Uruguay, not England or France, but the place is a lush country estate populated by a cosmopolitan elite, the family of Jules Gund, a deceased (by suicide) writer. Caroline (Laura Linney) is his patrician widow, but also in residence are his gay brother (Anthony Hopkins), his girlfriend (Charlotte Gainsbourg) as well as other family and quasi-family members. Into this mix comes, unannounced, an American graduate student seeking permission to write a biography of the late author, which he desperately needs to complete his thesis.

Can the Ivory-Jhabvala team (minus Ismail Merchant, who has died) work their period magic with a more contemporary story? “The answer is a resounding yes,” says Rex Reed in the New York Observer. “This is a typical James Ivory work, but more deeply wounding and emotionally involving than most. I was transfixed from beginning to end.”

The surprise hit ONDINE, is held over, and, on the summer fun front, the Jonah Hill comedy GET HIM TO THE GREEK moves in for laughable run.

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


shelby said...

Wish there were more child appropriate shows during summer. We visit for 6 weeks, leaving July 17th and could only see one movie so far!!!We love your theatre!!!Everyone is very friendly.

Florida Keys Girl said...

I saw Get Him to The Greek on July 4th. I can only say, I'm glad it was $4 day. It had some humorous moments, but overall was predictable and not very funny. Oh, and to the people that brought their 10-year-old kid the movie - really? What made you think that was appropriate?