Monday, August 9, 2010

Week of August 6 to August 12 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

The Tropic is living up to its sultry name right now. Not the temperature in the theaters, which remains as cool as ever, but the hot, hot selection of movies. DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS is the #2 movie overall at the national box office. THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT is the #1 independent movie in America (#12 overall), and THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE is the top foreign film (#18 overall).

Of course it’s a long way from #2 ($23.5 million gross 2,911 theaters), to #12 ($3.5 million in 847 theaters), to #18 ($542 thousand in 174 theaters), but that’s the great thing about having a local independent theater. You get a choice, not just what Hollywood pumps into the malls of America.

Since I’m a devotee of character and story, I’d recommend The Kids, which also manages to pull off a good deal of comic relief as it tells the story of a sperm-donee family gone somewhat awry.

Anyhow, all three of these movies are being held over, with a couple of popular, more kid-oriented choices added to the mix. Opening this week and splitting the screen in the Taylor Cinematheque are THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE and THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE. The former features Nicolas Cage as a sorcerer defending Manhattan from an evil genius with the help of a young apprentice. Just right for your under ten boys. The latter is, of course, the latest – and everyone seems to think bestest – of the Twilight saga. Just right for anyone who loves vampires, Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner. If you don’t know who they are, don’t bother.

For all the older groupies, the best shot is the Monday Night Cult Movie Classic, this week featuring MONTY PYTHON’S LIFE OF BRIAN, from 1979. How do we categorize this movie about the baby born in a stable in Bethlehem next to you-know-who? Religious farce for anyone who doesn’t take life too seriously?

Since I’ve still got space, can I be permitted a rant? The #1 box office movie, edging out Dinner For Schmucks, is Inception, which is drawing raves from almost all quarters. Not here.

Anyone who has ever tried to write a screenplay knows that dream sequences are cheats. Like life, a dream sequence doesn’t have to make sense or relate to anything, and when it’s over, it doesn’t matter unless you want to say it does. Well, the “plot” of Inception is a dream within a dream within a dream. So anything and everything can happen. And it does, but mostly it’s car chases and video game shooter sequences. Oh yeah, and some fancy CGI. Meanwhile, the overarching notion driving the story is that the hero (Leo DiCaprio) has devised a high tech, sci fi way to get into people’s minds and plant ideas. WFT? Who needs sci fi? Did you ever hear of advertising and PR? The best example of planting an idea in people’s minds is the way the Warner Brothers machine has gotten people to think this is a great film.

Oh, damn, now you’re going to want to go and see the movie. Hey Dennis and Rhonda: Don’t print the last two paragraphs.

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[from Key West, the newspaper --]

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