Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Week of June to June 10(Mann)

What's on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

Have you ever gone to a sneak preview? Well here's your chance. THE KILLERS, a new romantic spy-comedy opening at the Tropic this week is a super-sneak. It hasn't even been shown to critics. All anyone knows is that the movie stars Katherine Heigel (Grey's Anatomy, Knocked Up) and Aston Kutcher (What Happens in Vegas, Canon camera commercials), and that the couple's attempt to lead a normal life in the suburbs is being thwarted by an international team of assassins out to get Kutcher. Seems he offended someone with a long memory when he worked as an international spy hit-man a few years back.

Of course, it's a comedy, so more Austin Powers than James Bond. I have checked out a few clips and they look promising. But be your own critic. Let me know what you think.

As you might have guessed the Tropic is well into its "summertime and the livin' is easy" mode. That means a few movies like The Killers and also SPLICE, a sci-fi thriller. Clive (Adrien Brody of The Pianist and The Brothers Bloom) and Elsa (indie film favorite Sarah Polley, the writer-director of Away from Her) are a team of bio-researchers investigating the potential of DNA manipulation to create new drugs. But then they decide, against orders, to mix in a little human DNA. You see where this is going, I suppose. No you don't. Believe me, this movie goes places no man, woman or clone has ever gone before. Did I mention that it's really a horror flick? Yes, it is. Also a monster movie.

Splice was a popular favorite at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Salon was impressed by its "slick, enjoyable, black-comic monster movie... with its sleek surfaces, terrific special effects and disturbing sexiness," and the Philadelphia City Paper said it "balances the mundane and the mythic with as much grace as Steven Spielberg in his prime."

If you'd like something a bit more sedate, check out BREAKING UPWARDS. Daryl (first-time writer-director Daryl Wein) and Zoe (Zoe Lister-Jones) are a Gen-Me couple in Brooklyn who decide to undertake a trial breakup. An interesting twist on the usual movie formula, where people meet and fall in love, this one has them falling the other way. Or will they? Light comedy.

After all this, you'll probably appreciate something serious. That would be AJAMI, an Israeli film nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. Co-written and directed by an Israeli Arab and an Israeli Jew, you know the film's heart is in reconciliation. But this is no liberal bleeding-heart story. Set in the mean streets of Tel Aviv, amidst gangs and drug dealing, the plot involves a mistaken killing and a cycle of vengeance fed by the underlying tribalism of Israeli society. The plot structure is reminiscent of Crash, with multiple story lines you know are destined to converge... but how? After two plus hours, says the New York Times, "You emerge from “Ajami” moved and also a little worn out, but mostly grateful for the heart, craft and intelligence the movie has shown."

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[from Key West, the newspaper -]

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