Thursday, November 18, 2010

Week of November 19 to November 25 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

It’s hard to believe, but a foreign-language film has been outperforming some of the mainstream alternatives at the Tropic this past week. It’s THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST, which has amassed a following driven by the popularity of the trilogy of books about Dragon Tattoo girl Lisbeth Salander. But the success of the translation to the screen owes much to the brilliant portrayal by Noomi Rapace in the title role.

She’s as hard as males, and more computer savvy than Mark Zuckerberg. You probably know the contours of the story, of Lisbeth’s abuse by the men in her family and by sinister right-wing forces, and her unique and relentless means of gaining revenge. If you’ve seen the first two parts of the trilogy, you’re already committed to this concluding episode. If not, it’s a great story on its own. Lisbeth is again being framed by the evildoers, but she has Millenium magazine and Micke Nyqvist on her side, plus her own gutsy self. She’s held over for another week, just for you.

This week Lisbeth’s competition will come from Russell Crowe starring in THE NEXT THREE DAYS. He’s still a gladiator, but this time he’s fighting the legal system rather than Romans. His wife is serving a life sentence for a murder which she probably didn’t commit, but that’s not important. What’s important is that she has exhausted her appeals, leaving him no choice but extra-legal means to get her out. In other words, a prison break. The script and direction are by Oscar winner Paul Haggis (Crash, The Million-Dollar Baby),  who knows how to generate “an edge-of-the-seat morality play which builds in intensity every step of the way en route to its exciting conclusion.” (

Also coming to the starting line is SECRETARIAT, the biography of the legendary stallion whose record times in the 1973 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes still stand. (His official winning time in the Preakness was not a record, but that time is in dispute, with the Daily Racing Form attributing to him a time that would tie the current record.) I suppose telling you all this might constitute a spoiler, but if you don’t know that this horse won the Triple Crown and is possibly the greatest hunk of horseflesh that ever trod the track, you’re not likely to be a reader of this sophisticated journal. Anyhow, the races are all there, exciting, almost dazzling on screen. Fleshed out by the story of his female owner, Penny Chenery (Diane Lane), and her triumph in a male-dominated world, this is a great movie for the kids, as well as sports fans.

This week’s Special Event is the first in a new series of plays direct from Shakespeare’s  Globe Theatre in London. Joining opera and ballet on the Tropic’s cinema arts calendar, we’ll be seeing Romeo and Juliet and As You Like It later this season. But this week it’s LOVE’S LABOR’S LOST.  An out-and-out comedy featuring wordplay and coy characters, this performance has been specially filmed for high def digital presentation.

I count a visit to the Globe, a replica reconstruction of the original Elizabethan theater, where I stood in the pit to watch a play whilst higher-paying customers were arrayed in stadia seats around me, as a high point in my theater-going life. If you come and see the Globe players at the Tropic in this production, of which the New York Times says, “as dewy as a morning in May…this production lands every joke,” close your eyes and imagine you’re back in 1598. But in one of thepremium seats.

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[from Key West, the newspaper --]

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