Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Week of June11 to June 17 (Mann)

What's on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

The Tropic has been busy this week with a couple of wide-release movies -- KILLERS and SPLICE - that are bit of a change of pace from the usual fare. Both are getting raves from locals. SPLICE, in particular, seems destined for cult movie fame. These two are being held over, now joined by two other popular films, assuring that there will be plenty of cool entertainment for the hot weather.

LETTERS TO JULIET stars Amanda Seyfried (Chloe, Mamma Mia!) as a young American romantic bent on helping an older British woman (Vanessa Redgrave) find her long-lost Italian love. The terrain is Tuscany, the search is exciting, and even if we know how it's going to turn out, who doesn't enjoy another trip to Italy?

On the other hand, if you'd prefer to travel all over the world encased in a metal suit, IRONMAN 2 is the movie for you. (Can someone tell me why it isn't IRONMAN II? If ever a movie called for the self-important escalation of Roman numbers, this would seem to be it.) Anyhow, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, II) is back in his XXI Century armor, doing battle with adversaries that include the Russian scientist Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke). It's all a CGI festival, but with the human enhancement of these great actors. Just plain fun.

But there's also plenty for serious Tropic habitu├ęs.

In the face of government censorship and repression, an underground arts movement persists in Iran. Several film directors have been jailed, and others have chosen to continue to work in exile. Director Bahman Ghobadi shot his film in secret over 17 days inside the country, knowing that the subject matter would never be approved. NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT PERSIAN CATS is the story of a group of young Iranian musicians trying to get passports and visas to perform at a concert in London. They have to rehearse in basement rooms, insulated with walls covered in egg cartons. The only source of travel documents is a black market forger who promises he can produce anything from an Iranian passport to an American green card.

The movie takes us inside Tehran, into the cellars, and through the streets on motor bikes. It weaves the music throughout -- Iranian indie rock, Iranian rap, and even traditional Iranian music, all with a political message. I guess they're all "Persian cats."

Ghobadi got out of Iran and was able to premier his film at Cannes last year. He can't go back. But his film will get you as close as you're likely to get.

EVERYONE ELSE also takes us to Italy, but to the island of Sardinia, much wilder and more remote than the Tuscan mainland. A pair of German vacationers, Chris and Gitti, are given the opportunity to explore the extent of their love while alone at Chris' parent's vacation villa. But a couple of dinners with a more established neighboring couple confuse the situation. It "might not be perfect, but so much is right and true in this lovely, delicate work that it comes breathtakingly close," says Manhola Dargis in the New York Times. Or listen to Kevin Lee in Slant Magazine, a publication that loves to be contrary: "Not only is Everyone Else an instant contender for the pantheon of breakup movies, its manifold splendors evoke entire periods of great cinema." It's not usual to get these critics on the same page.

On the Special Events calendar, the Tropic is joining with The Studios of Key West and the Coffee Mill in a Modern Dance Festival revolving around a visit to Key West by Mauricio Nadal and Daniel Fetecua Soto. principal dancers of the Martha Graham and Jose Limon Dance Companies. They'll be teaching a course at the Mill and giving a talk at the Studio... and screening a couple of documentary films at the Tropic. A unique opportunity.

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