Saturday, March 19, 2011

Week of March 18 to March 24 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

The Tropic and The Studios of Key West join this week in a celebration of the work of documentary filmmaker Helen Whitney. She’s a visiting artist-in-residence at The Studios all month, offering advice and counseling to aspiring filmmakers. But this week is her time to shine in her own right, with a festival of her work on the Tropic screens.

The kickoff is Friday night, with a fund-raising reception and screening of Part One of her forthcoming two-part PBS series FORGIVENESS: A TIME TO LOVE AND A TIME TO HATE. In this world of rancor and revenge, she shows that humanity has another side… sometimes. Part Two will show on Sunday, and both parts, along with her other documentary films -- RICHARD AVEDON: DARKNESS AND LIGHT; THE MONASTERY; and HOMOSEXUALS -- will be shown throughout the week.

This week also brings a couple of new movies. THE LINCOLN LAWYER is a sharp, tense courtroom/crime thriller, starring Matthew McConaughey. He’s a criminal defense lawyer named Mick Haller, a guy who’s accustomed to representing lowlifes, and is as tough as they are. The title refers not to any President-like qualities, but to the fact that his office is the back of a Lincoln town car. He’s got an ex-wife (Marisa Tomei) and a sweet little daughter, but he’s not your settle-down-at-home kind of guy. Still, he wants to do the right thing. You know the type.

His new client is a rich boy charged with brutally assaulting a prostitute, not his usual client type, but the money is good and that’s what counts. Or so he thinks until the twists of this cleverly plotted story (based on a novel by mystery writer Michael Connelly) lead him down a dark alley that threatens his family and his career. “A don't-miss cinematic page-turner with enough twists to fill five movies.” (Box Office Magazine)

THE COMPANY MEN has even more star power, with Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner and Maria Bello. The plot is the flip side of last year’s George Clooney hit, Up in the Air. That film celebrated Clooney’s character who was a master axe man, a guy who tried to get you to see the bright side while he chopped off your means of livelihood. In this one we focus instead on Bobby Walker (Affleck) and Phil Woodward (Cooper), who have been removed (excuse me, downsized) from high-paid executive positions at a multinational conglomerate named GTX. They are sad characters, beaten by the system, but feisty nonetheless in the style of Howard Beale’s “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.” They have on their side an honorable executive at the corporation (Jones), and, in Walker’s case, his building contractor brother-in-law (Costner), but ultimately they have to find their own way out, or not. “A solid, intelligent, emotionally satisfying work of Hollywood liberalism.” (The New Yorker)

The star-power for ANOTHER YEAR comes from its writer-director Mike Leigh (Secrets and Lies, Topsy-Turvy, Vera Drake). Nominated for this year’s Best Original Screenplay Academy Award, it’s a small drama about a loving older couple, their grown son, and their relationship with an unmarried woman of a certain age whose closest thing to home is visiting with them. An “intimate miracle of a movie“ (Rolling Stone), “a visually rich, musical, unmannered slice of life that magnifies experience rather than miniaturizing it.” (Washington Post)

And closing out the week on Thursday are a couple of cultural extremes. In the afternoon, Mozart’s MAGIC FLUTE comes live via satellite from La Scala in Milan, in a production directed and staged by the multi-talented artist William Kentridge.  An encore “delayed live” will show in the evening.

And at 10:00pm the Tropic’s new Late Night Live series presents MISS RICHFIELD 1981: THIRTY YEARS ON THE THRONE, a drag show featuring improv audience interaction that offends everyone. Straight from P-town via Wilton Manor in Ft. Lauderdale.

Since the timing of the evening opera and Miss Richfield overlap, for a while we’ll have the two audiences mingling at concessions – wine and brie for one, and beer and pretzels for the other? Where else but … the Tropic Cinema.  

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[from Key West the newspaper -]

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