Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Week of February 17 to February 23 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

It’s good to be back, and just in time to bring some exciting news. The Tropic folks have always prided themselves on providing the best cinema presentation. And now they’re adding 3-D to their equipment arsenal.

Not just any 3-D system. I don’t want to get all techie on you, but bear with me for some interesting background. The movie industry sets standards for visual presentations, including the required screen brightness measured in something called foot lamberts. The goal for ordinary 2-D projection is 16FL and is easily achieved by most theaters. But because 3-D splits the image in two and also requires dark glasses, the brightness drops dramatically. The standard setters initially called for a standard of 4FL for 3-D because most theaters couldn't do any better than that. They’re now trying to crank it up to 7FL, but the trade press is full of stories of movies that were projected at 1FL and moviegoers were left staring into the darkness.

The Tropic is attacking this problem in two ways. One, its brand-new digital 3-D projectors are provided with ample lighting power. Second, rather than use the passive Polaroid glasses deployed in most theaters, they’ve opted for a more sophisticated system using glasses with electronic shutters. The glasses cost $50 a pair, so the system is not viable for megaplexes. But it provides a better, brighter experience. (By the way, the glasses won’t work at home, so please return them after the show.) The combination lets the Tropic achieve 14FL for 3-D, almost up to the standard of an ordinary 2-D show.

You’ll get your first chance to experience this system this week, when they’re showing Martin Scorsese’s first 3-D film HUGO, nominated for eleven Academy Awards including the biggies of Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography. This family film about an orphan in the Depression who is obsessed by technology and movies is “heartbreaking, funny, passionate and impossibly beautiful …. a must-see” says

And, as you might expect from the Tropic, Roger Ebert has noted that “Scorsese uses 3-D here as it should be used, not as a gimmick but as an enhancement of the total effect.”

Come see 3-D as it should be seen. This, by the way, is a great time to become a Tropic member if you haven’t yet joined. As an introduction to the new system they are waiving any 3-D surcharge for members, who will be admitted for the regular price ($6 matinee, $7.50 evening), while other patrons will be paying premium 3-D prices ($12 matinee, $14 evening).

Held over for another week is THE ARTIST, the odds on favorite to win the Best Picture prize. Betting on puts the likelihood of a win for The Artist at 87.5%, compared to 5% for the next most likely, The Descendants. Get ready. Intrade was right in 11 out of 12 Oscar prediction for 2010 and 2011. This would be the second black and white, silent picture so honored, the only other one being Wings at the very first ceremonies in 1929. I suspect that The Artist, a tender love story, would not have stood a chance in 1929 against the epic Wings, a precursor to Top Gun, full of epic aerial battles and a bare-breasted Clara Bow.

Also held over is THE IRON LADY with Meryl Streep’s commanding, and Oscar-nominated, performance as Margaret Thatcher. The Intrade odds on this category are a little closer, with Streep at 39.1% against Viola Davis (The Help) at 56%. My personal favorite, Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn) is third, but not really in the running, at 2.4%.

The Oscar-nominated shorts, both Live Action and Animated continue to run. These are the only categories where you can see the full range of choice in a single sitting.

Lot’s to see to get ready for the Academy Award ceremonies, which will be broadcast live, on the big screen at the Tropic. Tickets for the show and party are on sale now at the box office or the website.

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