Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Week of October 14 to October 20 (Mann)

What’s on a the Tropic
by Phil Mann  

Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler proved that a film about guys in a ring can transcend the sport. That is, you didn’t have to be a WWE aficionado to appreciate it. And boxing movies that are popular with non-boxers have been a staple of great film drama, from Requiem for a Heavyweight to Raging Bull to The Fighter. Now mixed martial arts (MMA), the most violent and most brutal of ring sports, gets its cinema champion.

In WARRIOR, Tommy (Tom Hardy – Inception) and Brendan (Joel Edgerton – Animal Kingdom) are brothers but have been estranged from each other and from their alcoholic father (Nick Nolte) for years. For very different reasons, they both choose MMA fighting as a way to earn needed money, setting the brothers on a collision path. You know it’s going to conclude with the ultimate fight, of course, but the story of the three men, like that of the family in The Fighter, is a character-driven drama that draws the viewer into their lives. And the fight scenes will blow you away. Mere boxing or wrestling seems trivial by comparison.

It’s a hit with both critics and average moviegoers -- “This movie wants to knock you out. It will.” (A.O. Scott, New York Times), “
LOVED THIS MOVIE! I am a 49 year old woman whose sport tastes usually only include dancing and couples figure skating, but this movie was awesome! "(raygirl on Metacritic)

The central characters in the French dramatic comedy THE HEDGEHOG could be from another planet, by comparison. Paloma is a precocious eleven-year-old, making a video about her plan to kill herself in a few months, and Renée is the surly concierge-superintendent of the luxury apartment building where Paloma lives with her very refined, and very distant, parents. Renée has a passion for literature and Japanese cinema that she conceals because “no one wants a pretentious janitor.” She’s the hedgehog of the title, tough on the outside, but soft inside. Put Mr. Ozu into the mix – a new tenant who strikes up an unusual relationship with Renée – and you have a quirky coming-of-age comedy reminiscent of Rushmore, with a touch of Amélie.

The Hedgehog “sneaks up on you with its heartfelt storytelling and sophisticated wit.” (Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch), “a treat: a movie that's smart, grown-up, wry and deeply moving” (Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post)

This week’s Classic in the Undead Are Fundead Series, BEETLEJUICE (1988) featuring Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin as a deceased young couple required to haunt their earthly house, with Michael Keaton as their fellow-poltergeist and a very-young Winona Ryder as the winsome daughter of the new tenants. The first big hit from director Tim Burton, who quickly followed with Batman and Edward Scissorhands. Come down on Monday to warm up for Fantasy Fest.

A full house of held over hits rounds out the schedule: THE HELP, CONTAGION, DRIVE, WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER and TURTLE: THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY.

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