Friday, April 8, 2011

Week of April 8 to April 14 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

There’s so much going on at the Tropic this week I feel like an air traffic controller on a foggy night trying to keep it all sorted out. Let’s take it in chronological order.

First up, opening Friday night, are three new movies.

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU is based on a story by sci fi icon Philip K. Dick. It has elements of The Minority Report (also based on a Dick story) and last year’s Inception, in that the plot centers on an other-worldly team (the titled Bureau) that runs life on earth according to a plan, and sometimes intervenes to keep things on track. David Norris (Matt Damon) and Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) are a couple who meet by accident – that is, not according to plan. When they go off-message, it doesn’t sit well with the black-suited, black-hatted adjusters led by John Slattery and Anthony Mackie. (Reminding us of the enforcers in Brother From Another Planet.)

The Adjustment Bureau is the first directing effort by screenwriter George Nolfi (The Bourne Ultimatum, Ocean’s Twelve) who brings a writer’s respect for character and dialogue to it. And he keeps the story centered on the affair between David and Elise, creating “an end-of-winter cinematic palate cleanser that delivers a sweep-you-off-your-feet love story along with a few gooey, chewy, slightly silly philosophical niblets” ( In other words, a sci fi film for romantics and a romance for the Inception crowd.

CERTIFIED COPY is also a romance, this time between James, an American art historian who’s in Tuscany to deliver a lecture and Elle, a French antiquities dealer (Juliette Binoche). Directed by famed Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami and set in the beautiful Italian countryside, it’s an international effort, but the dialogue is mostly English. You needn’t fear subtitles, but the story will keep your mind alert. The theme of James’ professional work is the relationship between a real object, its depiction in a work of art, and a copy of it. The movie explores that question and so does the emerging relationship between James and Elle. It’s “an endless hall of mirrors whose reflections multiply” (New York Times) that won Binoche the Best Actress award at Cannes.

And, moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, PEEP WORLD is a silly farce with a talented cast led by Rainn Wilson, Sarah Silverman, and Ron Rifkin. It’s a comic version of that Dogme 95 exemplar The Celebration, in which a family is gathered to celebrate the father’s birthday, but it doesn’t go down so well because one brother has published a best-selling novel about his family’s dysfunctionality. Welcome to some not-so-unusual family dynamics.

Saturday morning brings a repeat screening of the Monday Night Classic, NATIONAL VELVET, the first in this month’s series honoring Elizabeth Taylor.

Then, on Sunday, the environmental blockbuster SILENT SNOW will be screened in a special preview introduced by its Dutch director Jan van den Berg. The film, which received accolades in introductory showings in Europe, focuses on the Arctic, where worldwide chemical residues accumulate. We see it through the eyes of an Inuit woman who travels the world in search of the sources of this pollution. Key West locals John Padget and Jacob Gelt Dekker were sponsors of the film and have graciously arranged for this premiere screening as a fund-raiser for the Tropic.

On Monday, Ms. Taylor is back, this time as Maggie, the cat, in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. Paul Newman and Burl Ives round out the cast in this Tennessee Williams-based masterpiece.
And finally, Tuesday is the day for Shakespeare’s AS YOU LIKE IT, filmed in high def at the Globe Theater in London.

Not enough? Well, THE LINCOLN LAWYER and THE LAST LIONS are held over, both don’t-miss cinema entertainments.

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