Thursday, July 7, 2011

Week of July 8 to July 14 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic

by Phil Mann

There’s a lot of fluff at the Tropic right now, which is to be expected for the summer season. Whether it’s the ghosts of Ernest Hemingway, Salvatore Dali and Pablo Picasso holding court in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS; the female versions of the Hangover guys engaging in shenanigans in BRIDESMAIDS; Morgan Spurlock jerking the chains of corporate America in THE GREATEST MOVIE EVERY SOLD; or J.J. Abrams channeling Steven Spielberg in SUPER 8; you know you can just kick back and enjoy the show.

But for the thinking filmgoer, INCENDIES is the movie to see. This noir thriller/anti-war movie was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year, and by the judgment of many should have won. It starts out in Montreal (the home of director Denis Villeneuve), where twin 20-year-old brother and sister Simon and Jeanne Marwan are given sealed letters from their just-deceased mother, with instructions to deliver them to their father and brother. Since the twins had no idea that the father was still alive, or that they had a brother, the plot quickly thickens.

Both of the addressees are living in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, which is easily identified as Lebanon. As they travel there to carry out their mother’s wishes, Simon and Jeanne are thrust into the middle of a religious/ethic civil war that is wracking the country, and the movie pulls no punches showing the horrors of the war. We discover through flashbacks that the mother fled the country because of these tensions. But why did she want to thrust her children back into such turmoil? Didn’t I say it was a mystery?

“Tells a story-masterfully-of courage, cruelty, family mysteries and a chain of anger that can only be broken by love.” (Wall St. Journal) “Painful, searing and something close to brilliant.” (Arizona Republic) You’ll want to discuss it over a glass of wine in the lobby rather than just amble out of the theater.

The Ballet in Cinema Series also brings a note of seriousness on Saturday, with a presentation of CHILDREN OF PARADISE danced by the Paris Opera Ballet and shown live at 1:30pm EDT (7:30 in Paris), with an encore evening performance at 7:00pm EDT. It’s appropriate that this new ballet come to the Tropic because it’s based on the classic 1945 film Les Enfants du Paradis, rated by Gallic critics as the greatest French film ever.

Two special events round out the week.

On Monday, the Summer of Fun Classics Series features the PEEWEE'S BIG ADVENTURE (1985). This was director Tim Burton’s first hit, preceding Beetlejuice, Batman and Edward Scissorhands, and of course it’s Peewee Herman’s greatest achievement. Recapture your childhood this Monday, and every Monday in July with a classic kids’ film.

For a special treat on Thursday, local cinephile and director Mike Marrero has collected a group of short films from local Key West filmmakers, including Chris Shultz, David Sloan, Mark Pierson, Chad Newman, and Mike himself. These guys are doing great things in the local cinema community. Support them and enjoy yourself.

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