Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Week of December 2 to December 8 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

It’s always a treat when a new Pedro Almadóvar film comes out. Early in his career, the titles alone were enough to get your juices flowing: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990). The Key West Film Society/Tropic Cinema has presented every Almadóvar opus released since the Society’s founding in 1999. They had a great time presenting All About My Mother at a gala fund raiser at the San Carlos, inviting Monroe County’s legendary “Queen Mother,” County Commisioner Wilhelmina Harvey, as a guest of honor. Believe me, the octogenarian Harvey didn’t expect a movie about a transvestite father and a pregnant nun.

Almadóvar’s more recent titles have pulled back a little, but the subject matter is always off-beat and provocative . His new film THE SKIN I LIVE IN continues the tradition. The New York Times’ Manhola Dargis can’t decide if it’s “an existential mystery, a melodramatic thriller, a medical horror film or just a polymorphous extravaganza.”

A quick summary, without giving away the plot twists which keep you guessing. Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) is a brilliant plastic surgeon who has become more a mad scientist, as he tries to develop a new technique for saving burn victims by experimenting on a human subject. The woman, named Vera Cruz (Elena Anaya), is beautiful and, by turns, dutiful and belligerent. “Part Vertigo, part Beauty and the Beast, part Bride of Frankenstein, Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In is yet another casually masterful work, from a director who has barely put a foot wrong in his 30 (!) years of feature filmmaking.” (Shawn Levy, Portland Oregonian)

Also opening this week is MELANCHOLIA. the latest from the notorious filmmaker Lars Von Trier (Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark, Antichrist). Justine (Kirsten Dunst) is an oddly affectless, anhedonic woman who is getting married on the day that a rogue planet (named Melancholia) is threatening to crash into the earth. Her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), who has paid for the lavish wedding, tries to break the spell (and maybe save the Earth?).

Dunst won the Best Actress Award at Cannes, while Von Trier was drummed out of town for making obnoxious remarks. So it goes in the world of film festivals. He later apologized. But this side story has nothing to do with the movie which is beautifully filmed. Rene Rodriquez in the Miami Herald describes it well as “an intergalactic sci-fi metaphor for a psychological disorder…. a tremendously daring movie.”

The Europan opera season continues this week, with DON GIOVANNI live from La Scala in Milan. It’s the festive opening night of the Milanese opera season, with Daniel Barenboim conducting and the gorgeous Anna Netrebko as Donna Anna.  You can be there for the live show Wednesday at 12:00PM EST (6:00PM in Milan). There’s also an encore broadcast in the evening.

Held over are MARY MARCY MAY MARLENE, J. EDGAR, and RUM DIARY, as the Tropic’s winter movie season move into high gear and we begin the run up to Christmas.  Time to consider Tropic Gift Cards for your loved ones – ten percent discount on all cards for members. Or check out the Elves link on the Tropic’s home page. Are you naughty or nice?

Full schedules and info at or

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