Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Week of November 18 to November 24 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

Oh my, this week is a dream for moviegoers, but a nightmare for this columnist. Because of Thanksgiving, the movie changeover, which usually occurs on Friday, is taking place mid-week. So we’ve got one batch of films scheduled for Friday (11/18) through Tuesday (11/22), and then a separate batch starting on Wednesday (11/23).

Let’s start with Friday’s new films.

is like a crème brûlée, so French, so luscious, so irresistible. The sound track, which you’ll hear in the Tropic’s unrivaled acoustic environment, is richly Mozartian; the visual setting is the palace of Versailles where the movie was filmed. The garb and accoutrements, both male and female, are true to an era of excess that led to the French revolution. It almost doesn’t matter what the story is, but it happens to be a compelling and dramatic tale of Wolfgang’s older sister Nannerl. She was his idol as a child, inspiring him with her talent. But when the legendary prodigy blossomed, father Leopold relegated Nannerl to the role of harpsichord accompanist, refusing to allow her to study composition, or practice a virtuoso instrument like the violin.

Despite this, her talent was recognized by her peers at the French court, both the Dauphine and the Princess. If you notice a resemblance between Nannerl and the Princess, it’s because they are real-life sisters, the beautiful daughters of the director. “Alive with exuberantly thesped personages and awash in the joy and power of music, the picture is a stunner.” (Variety)

as its title suggests, is one of those little treats you find at the Tropic. Based on the comic memoir of a British celebrity chef, it’s about coming of age with a father who wasn’t taken with his son’s delight in cooking and taking home ec. “Sweet and tart, airy and rich and, above all, a thoroughly irresistible confection.“ (Gary Goldstein, L.A. Times)

Joining these on Wednesday is the much talked about MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE. Just so you understand the perplexing title, Martha was the name given the central character by her family, Marcy May is the name she acquired while living in a patriarchal commune, and Marlene is the all-purpose name used by women in the commune when answering the phone.

We see M ((Elizabeth Olsen) at the commune under the powerful influence of its craggy, charismatic leader Patrick (John Hawkes – Winter’s Bone, Higher Ground), who evokes Jim Jones or Charles Manson. And we see her at her sister’s gorgeous lakeside home – a jarring juxtaposition -- where she goes to escape. What led her to the commune, and what drove her away?

Ms. Olsen is the younger sister of the famed twins, but unlike them she has taken acting seriously, studying at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School. This is a breakout role for her, portraying a woman who struggles to find herself (hence the multiple names). She’s already being touted for major awards. “The story of a scarred, scared woman - an extraordinary, mesmerizing performance from Elizabeth Olsen… a beautifully spooky film.” (Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer)

After this, you’ll be ready for something light, which the French comedy THE WOMEN ON THE 6TH FLOOR nicely supplies. Set in the 1960’s, it’s sort of a French version of The Help, but without the edgy undertones of the Civil Rights movement, as a straitlaced French stockbroker and his wife interact with a bevy of Spanish maids who live on the servants’ floor of their apartment building.

Lots of holdovers: ANONYMOUS, MARGIN CALL, IDES OF MARCH, plus a brief run for RUM DIARY.

And a couple of very Special Events. On Sunday, it’s the ballet SLEEPING BEAUTY, shown live from the new Bolshoi at 10:00am EST (7pm in Moscow), with an encore show in the evening.

On Monday, Susan Orlean (author of The Orchid Thief), will be live on stage at the Tropic, introducing and signing her new book on RIN TIN TIN, followed by a screening of Rinty’s most famous silent film CLASH OF THE WOLVES. It’s all a benefit for the SPCA and the Tropic.

Have a great Thanksgiving.

Full schedules and info at TropicCinema.com or TCKW.info.

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