Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Week of Sept. 29 to Oct. 6 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

The summer may be over technically, but it’s still in full swing at the Tropic, with plenty of light fare.

In WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER, fright movie star Anna Faris (Scary Movie) crosses over to rom-com. She’s a single girl looking for love, but unable to find Mr. Right. With too many accumulated past affairs, she’s alarmed when a women’s mag suggests she’s exhausted her life quota. Maybe she made a mistake in letting one of her former boyfriends slip away. As unlikely as that may be, she embarks on a quest to find them and try again, with the help of Colin, an attractive, philandering neighbor ((Chris Evans – Captain America: The First Avenger, who has no hesitance about flaunting his bod). And the movie unrolls with a series of guys who are either irredeemable or well-lost, like a gynecologist whom she dated for months, but who recognizes her only when she puts her feet up in the stirrups. Will she eventually wind up with Captain America? You’ll only know if you catch this end-of- summer fun flick.

If this tribute to female insecurity doesn’t do it for you, how about “a raucous celebration of male immaturity.” (A.O. Scott, New York Times) That would be OUR IDIOT BROTHER. Ned (Paul Rudd) is a sort of country bumpkin, forced to leave his pad in upstate New York and serially crash with his three sisters in the City -- a married yuppie mom (Emily Mortimer), a single careerist (Elizabeth Banks) and a hippie lesbian (Zooey Deschanel). As Aesop would agree, the simple country mouse is really smarter than his city mouse siblings. The movie works because of “the endless appeal of watching Rudd's lovable idiot run roughshod over the sophisticated New York mini-universe while winning the confidence and admiration of everyone around him.” (

Enough. Let’s get serious.

GUN HILL ROAD fills that bill. Enrique (Esai Morales) returns to his home in the Bronx after a long stint in prison, full of machismo, but determined to go straight and be a good family man for his wife and fifteen-year-old son Michael (Harmony Sanchez). Trouble is, the son is pre-op transsexual, shaving his body and going to clubs in drag. This is so far off Enrique's radar that at first he thinks Michael just needs a little male bonding – a trip to a baseball game or a prostitute. But the reality eventually hits, and it does not go down well. “Manages somehow to be gritty, delicate, in your face and nuanced at the same time.” (David Lewis, S.F. Chronicle)

The long awaited documentary TURTLE: THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY is finally here. You might say it’s a local hero story, because the loggerhead turtle who is the focal point of the movie could have been born on one of our beaches. Like other nature films – March of the Penguins, The Last Lions – it tells a story through incredible natural footage, but also with shots in a specially constructed tank. The loggerheads might not be as beautiful as lions, or as cute as penguins, but their lives are in many ways a greater adventure. The life cycle followed by the film is, in real time, a twenty five year journey from the beaches of Florida to Africa and back, all to follow a two-hundred-million-year-old, instinct-bred path that only 1 in 10,000 survive. You can see them in local waters, or at the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, after you bond with the species through the movie.

THE HELP and THE DEBT are held over, for those of you who missed them.

Exciting news. The theme for October’s Monday Classics is The Undead Are Fundead. Get it? Opening the series this Monday is SHAUN OF THE DEAD, the ultimate proof that the zombie genre, like its subject, will never die.

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