Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Week of December 23 to December 29

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

Christmas always brings “don’t-miss-film-week” to the Tropic, and this year is no different, with three great new movies.

Leading the pack is THE DESCENDANTS, a film on everyone’s top ten list and a sure bet for an Academy Award nomination. Combining the writer/director talents of Alexander Payne (Sideways, About Schmidt, Election) and the acting of George Clooney, it’s the story of Matt King, a man whose seemingly idyllic life in a Hawaiian paradise, seems to be crumbling around him. He’s wealthy, the lead heir of a haole family that has lived on the islands for generations and owns 25,000 acres of pristine beachfront land worth a small fortune. He’s got a lovely family, wife and two daughters.

But, as Matt tells us in an introductory scene, don’t think life in paradise is necessarily paradisiacal. (A message which we Key Westers can take to heart.) We quickly learn that his wife is in a coma, the result of a power boat racing accident. (More Key West!) His older daughter is acting out, and, by the way, he’s been cuckolded. While dealing with all this, he’s also got the ultimate responsibility of deciding what to do with the family’s land, caught between those who want to cash it in for big bucks, and those who want to preserve nature’s bounty. (Sound familiar?)

A pitch-perfect movie that threads a microscopically tiny needle between high comedy and devastating drama.” (Ann Hornaday, Washington Post) “Heartwarming, tragic and, at times, hilariously funny drama.” (Gail MacDonald, Toronto Globe and Mail)

You will all want to see this movie. But I especially recommend it to Roger Bernstein of the Wisteria Island family.

The Tropic is, of course, the Key West home of the iconic Marilyn Monroe, her skirt flying up to the delight of every passing tourist who sneaks a peek under her. But this week she moves inside the theater, in the person of Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine, Brokeback Mountain) in MY WEEK WITH MARILYN. It’s a story of Beauty and the Boy, the latter being young Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne – The Yellow Handkerchief). He’s a production assistant on the set of a film that Marilyn is shooting in England with Sir Lawrence Olivier (The Prince and the Showgirl). She is newly married to Arthur Miller, who accompanies her, but then has to return to the States, leaving Colin with the estimable duty of looking after the Showgirl.

The movie is based on a true story, from a journal kept by Colin. Who knows how much of it is his wishful remembrance? But the film gives us a chance to share in the fantasy that we, too, can spend a week alone with the ultimate femme fatale. To think that she, who sought dominating males to bed (Joe Dimaggio, Arthur Miller, maybe Jack and Bobby Kennedy) still might have had a place in her heart for us.

“Michelle Williams… evokes so many Marilyns… we're probably looking at one of this year's Oscar nominees.” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times) “
What an extraordinary thrill to leave a movie exhilarated instead of drained, sated instead of empty, rejuvenated instead of depressed. It's a magical experience.” (Rex Reed, New York Observer)

As great as they are, neither of these movies is really for the kids whom you’ve got to entertain over the holidays. For them, the Tropic has BEING ELMO: A Puppeteer’s Journey. Don’t be confused; this is not The Muppets movie that’s currently showing at some mainland theaters. That’s a muppet show. This is the inspiring story of Kevin Clash, the soul of Elmo, and how he got to be that way. It’s also the backstage story of the Muppets, how they are made and made to move.

“A wonderful, touching story, one that made me want to scoop up every kid I know who has a scrap of creative talent, and have them watch the film. Because Elmo's story is sweet -- but Clash's is nothing short of inspiring.” (Mike Scott, Times-Picayune)

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

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