Sunday, December 12, 2010

Week of Dec. 10 to Dec. 16 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

Oh my gosh! Have you seen the new front of the Tropic? A boldly refinished sidewalk, featuring a life-sized statue of Marilyn Monroe with her iconic flaring skirt, to welcome you to Key West’s film heaven. Stop by, even if you aren’t going to the movies.

Leading the film card this week is TAMARA DREWE, the latest from the great British director Stephen Frears (Queen, High Fidelity, My Beautiful Launderette).

Gemma Atherton, playing the title role, is an established babe, from her past roles in the Bond flick Quantum of Solace (she was Strawberry Fields) and the recent mega-messes Prince of Persia and Clash of the Titans, but Frears has relocated her to a bucolic location, far from the madding world of those epics.  Loosely based on a graphic novel, which was in turn based on Hardy’s “Far from the Madding Crowd,” the setting is a rural English village, locus of a writer’s colony run by a writer-philanderer-husband and his long-suffering wife.

Tamara has returned to town, having left some years ago as an ugly duckling, but now looking like Strawberry Fields, come to take care of her deceased mother’s estate. So she’s foxy, rich, and a successful London columnist, to boot. Catnip for this crowd. Add in a self-absorbed sexy rocker and a collection of wannabe writers inhabiting the colony and you’ve got “a hugely exuberant black comedy,” that is Frears “most entertaining” film. (Ella Taylor, NPR).

Counterpoint to this frivolous comedy are two serious studies of genius.  IN SEARCH OF MEMORY documents the life of neuroscientist Eric Kandel, who won the Nobel Prize in 2000 for his work in understanding how the mind deals with memory.  Born in Austria but living in New York since the 1930’s, Kandel is another exemplar from that mother lode of Nazi refugees that has so enriched American life. Thanks to Kandel’s effervescent  personality, and the inherent interest that we all share in the subject, the movie sparkles. “An engrossing portrait…, a generous introduction to someone worth knowing, who knows an awful lot.” (New York Times)

GENIUS WITHIN: THE INNER LIFE OF GLENN GOULD  focuses on the mind of a particular musical genius. As famous for his eccentric behavior as his brilliant playing, Gould was one of the legendary artists of the mid-twentieth Century.  You might see the Kandel movie first, to gain insight into the workings of the brain, and then the Gould one to see a very odd one in operation. The movie is full of filmed interviews with him (though he stopped performing in public in 1964, he continued to give interviews for many years until his death in 1982). The movie is “a tour de force of archival research and dogged interviewing, and the portrait it presents is remarkably complete.” (New York Times)

For all you aspiring filmmakers, there’s a Special Event this weekend. The Monroe County Film Commission is presenting a free two-day seminar on the ins and outs of film location work. The Location Manager  is the person who finds the places that fit a film director’s vision and needs, negotiates the arrangements for use of the places, and makes sure the shoot there goes down smoothly. William Bowling, Location Manager on such films as Talledega Nights, Red Dragon, and Saving Private Ryan will conduct the seminar intended to provide basic training the skills needed.  Details at Call Rita Brown at the Florida Keys & Key West Film Office at 305-296-1552 to reserve your place.

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[from Key West, the newspaper -]