Saturday, August 20, 2011

Week of August 19 to August 25 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

ONE DAY combines the talents of a major star – Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries, Devil Wears Prada, Academy Award Nominee for Rachel Gets Married); an unusual Danish film director – Lone Scherfig (An Education, Italian for Beginners); and the writer of a best-selling novel who has now adapted his work for the screen – David Nicholls. I might also mention that it’s a co-venture of a notable indie film producer – Focus Features, and the book publishing giant Random House. I give you all this background because the plot has hints of a conventional Hollywood romantic comedy. Emma Morley (Hathaway) and Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) begin a relationship at their college graduation on July 15, 1988. They have very different world views. She wants to make the world a better place, while he is interested only in himself. But they meet again each year on July 15 over two decades, and the film uses those days to build “a languid romantic drama full of the ups and downs of life, as well as friendship” (, “a film which understands the devastating but also very funny heart of its source material.” (

THE FIRST BEAUTIFUL THING was Italy’s submission to the Academy Awards this year, rather than the better known I Am Love (which the Tropic showed last summer). This is a delightful, crowd-pleasing family story, with an emotional heart. Bruno, a dissolute, screwed-up high school teacher returns home for a final visit with his mother in hospice. She was, and still is, a beautiful woman – the first in his life. And that’s the story we see through flashbacks. “A smart, enjoyably sudsy multi-decade melodrama… It’s practically a blueprint for the national psyche.” (Boston Globe)

The real not-to-be missed film, being held over for another week, is BUCK, the true story of Buck Brannaman, horse whisperer extraordinaire. If you don’t believe me, listen to my esteemed editor Rhonda, who tweeted “If you love horses (or seeing abuse survivors win at life) you should … go see BUCK @ TropicCinema right away.”

Also coming this week is a movie about a kid named Harry Potter. I’ll just quote from the Tropic’s Facebook page. “A few of you may have heard of this film, and we need your help to spread the word. It's a shame more folks don't know about it. Starts Friday: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART II. See it before it quietly floats away to oblivion...never to be heard from again.”

Did you notice that I’m quoting from tweets and Facebook pages? Just a little tip that you can now follow the Tropic on both. It’s @TropicCinema on Twitter and the Tropic Cinema fan page on Facebook. Check it out.

Oh, and the Monday Summer of Fun: Murder and Mayhem Classic is Quentin Tarantino’s RESERVOIR DOGS (1992), the movie that put him on the map as a major filmmaking talent.

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