Saturday, May 7, 2011

Week of May 6 to May 12 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

    There’s a broad range of movie genres on display this week.
     If you’re a fan of high concept adventure fantasies that revolve around the superpower, supernatural or superscience themes that are a staple of Hollywood, the Tropic tries to show the best of the new releases. HANNA is the latest. The director, Joe Wright, cut his teeth on literary adaptations -- Pride and Prejudice, and Atonement– that have typed him as a darling of the culturati. So when he does an action thriller about a teen-aged girl trained to be an assassin, you can expect something different. You won’t be disappointed.
    Saoirse Ronan (who starred in Atonement, as well as The Lovely Bones) is the 16-year-old girl, a killing machine trained in martial arts, who speaks multiple languages, and has memorized an encyclopedia. But she was raised in the wild and has never met another person her age or seen an electric light. Watch what happens when she comes into contact with the world, and CGI effects. “It's the thinking man's chick-action flick,” says
     If feel-good real human drama is more your preference, then SOUL SURFER is for you. New teen star AnnaSophia Robb (Bridge to Terabithia, Race to Witch Mountain) expands her acting reach in this biopic portrayal of surfer Bethany Hamilton. The daughter of surfers, Bethany seemed destined for hang ten stardom until a shark ripped off one of her arms. If you don’t mind a bit of Lifetime TV style and a faith-based pitch, her recovery and return to surfing, make for “an uplifting, entertaining, and wonderfully-acted account,” (Orlando Sentinel) with remarkable ocean footage. I understand that Bethany performed all the surfing in the film, with visual effects substituting AnnaSophia’s face, so you’ll get to see the real girl in action.
     Or do you prefer unusual documentaries? BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK is certainly that. Cunningham is a legend in the fashion world, an ascetic living in a sparely furnished studio, whose entire life is photographing fashion. Not those flashy, haut style shoots that you associate with the likes of Richard Avedon, but shots of ordinary people on the streets of New York and at New York events. Have you ever noted the “On The Street” feature of the Sunday New York Times? That’s Cunningham. The filmmakers (director Richard Press along with a cameraman and producer) followed him for years as he bicycled around New York on one of his Schwinns (not that he needs more than one; they just keep getting stolen). Supplemented by interviews with Anna Wintour, Brooke Astor, Tom Wolfe and others, it’s a testament to a man and how you can make a life out of a lovely obsession.
     I’m certainly no fashionista, but I must admit that I’ve loved the fashion-driven movies that the Tropic has been showing in recent years -- Coco Before Chanel, Valentino: The Last Emperor; even The Devil Wears Prada, and Sex and the City. Add Bill Cunningham New York!
    Rounding out the film schedule are holdovers of the Civil War courtroom drama THE CONSPIRATORS and the Catherine Deneuve/Gerard Depardieu French farce POTICHE.
     If you’d prefer to ignore the movies and just have fun, well drop by on Saturday afternoon at 4:00pm. They’re having a Kentucky Derby Fund Raiser for Hospice-VNA and the Tropic. Full strength Mint juleps, traditional Derby fare, games of chance and, of course, The Race on the giant screen in the Carper Theater. Tix are $75, all for a good cause.
     Comments, please, to
[from Key West, The Newspaper -]

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