Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Week of October 8 through October 14 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

A secret of life is learning to take pleasure in small things. I’m proud that I once climbed the highest mountain…. in Southern Western Australia. It was only a slog up a big hill, but on an effort to reward scale it rates pretty high - a few hours, no advance planning or particular anticipation; to get a spectacular view, pleasurable fatigue, and interesting companions on the trail.

I mention this because the Tropic has a couple of such pleasures this week, movies that you haven’t heard much about – certainly not in TV advertising , but that you should be willing to give a shot because you know that Scot and Jeff (who select the Tropic’s films) usually come up with something worth your time. (But there’s never any guarantee in matters of taste!)

JACK GOES BOATING marks the directorial debut of the multi-talented Philip Seymour Hoffman, who also stars in the movie. He’s the eponymous Jack, a socially inept livery cab driver, who’s looking for love without any idea how to go about it. But Clyde -- his best friend, his wingman and social guide -- manages to set him up with his wife’s co-worker, and the foursome evolves in ways I can’t tip off. But Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle gets it right: “Jack Goes Boating is a successful work of art. To see this movie is to feel that you've lived it…. [It] won’t exactly change your life, but, in a small but definite way, it will expand your experience.”

ANIMAL KINGDOM may sound like a National Geographic channel special, but don’t be fooled. The allusion is to the predatory world of a jungle, which is where 17-year-old Josh finds himself when his mother O.D.’s on heroin. The jungle is the Melbourne (Australia) underworld, home of his diabolical grandmother and sinister uncles, a pathological crime family, who make Tony Soprano and his gang look almost peaceable. “A distinctive, ominous and hypnotic work of cinema” (, Animal Kingdom is talked of as the Australian Goodfellas.

Get ready for Mesrine, coming soon, about a French gangster known as Public Enemy No. 1. Everybody, all over the world, loves a gangster thriller.

If you haven’t seen CAIRO TIME yet, this will be your last chance to catch this little gem about a stranded American tourist (Patricia Clarkson) and an Egyptian coffee bar owner who becomes her guide. Another simple pleasure.

Rounding out the schedule is a passel of the big budget movies that fill in the Tropic’s program during the summer/early fall season: SCOTT PILGRIM V. THE WORLD (slacker kid must defeat rivals for his new love); EASY A (innocent high school girl turns false rumors about her loss of virginity into an asset); THE AMERICAN (George Clooney is an American hit man trying to do his last job); and TAKERS (Matt Dillon as the good cop in a slick heist movie).

Isn’t it great how they can show seven different movies on only four screens? And that’s not all.

On Monday, the Movie Classics series resumes with a Cult Horror Month. This week it’s Ed Woods’ PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE, which has been called a “masterpiece… one of the most significant films of its era” (, as well as ”an absolute, incomprehensible mess” ( You decide.
And Wednesday brings the first in the new Live Opera series, with a new production of Bizet’s CARMEN direct, as it happens, at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona.


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