Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Week of March 30 to April 5 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

FRIENDS WITH KIDS. Time for some (rom)comic relief. But with bite. Take a couple of the stars from Bridesmaids (Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd), and everybody’s favorite hunk from Mad Men (Jon Hamm), and throw in an awesome hunkette (Megan Fox), and you have the background for a modern urban fable. What happens when two Yubbies (young urban Brooklynites) decide to have a baby without committing to a relationship. You’ve heard of “friends with benefits?” How about “friends with burdens?”

Writer/director Jennifer Westfeldt (Kissing Jessica Stein) is Julie, the female lead, with Adam Scott as Jason, her live-action sperm donor. Thanks to her sharp dialogue and insights into her characters, “it’s funny without being ridiculous, sweet without turning sentimental, even though it involves parenthood. Its raunchy sense of humor helps.” (Connie Oggle, Miami Herald). David Edelstein in New York Magazine says it’s what we’d get “If Ingmar Bergman Were Funny…the best breeder movie in years.”

You might wonder how things would have turned out if Julie and Jason’s baby were to be something other than a delightful bundle of joy. For a take on that question, check out WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN. Our much loved Tilda Swinton (the only living movie star featured in the Tropic lobby), suffers through a life of living hell because of her son Kevin, who seems to have been put on earth to plague her. There’s no romance, and certainly no comedy here.

Kevin is a psychopath. He knows how to act lovingly, so as to fool his father (John C. Reilly) into thinking his bad behavior is because “he’s just a boy.” But we know better, and so does his mother Eva. We know it from the outset, as we learn of a horrible crime, because the director takes us back and forth in a non-chronological path. But the center of the film is Eva, and her torments. How does a parent deal with the knowledge that she has brought evil into the world?

It’s “a masterful film” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times), giving further proof that Ms. Swinton deserves that place of honor in the lobby. “The movie toggles between two periods---before and after a catastrophe---and, were it not for Swinton's magnetism, it would be unbearable. Instead, you'll want to stay for the wallop.” (Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York).

Three films are held over, the controversial, NC-17-rated, SHAME, starring Michael Fassbender; the Freud-Jung bio-story, A DANGEROUS METHOD; and the Iranian Best Foreign Film, A SEPARATION. The latter has established some kind of record at the Tropic, being the first subtitled movie to be the top grossing film of the week. Come and see why.

This Monday, April 2, also marks the start of a new Classic Film Series. The theme for April is Cult Colors, beginning with the old favorite, PINK FLAMINGOS, featuring former Key West habituĂ© Devine in John Water’s first color movie, and the one that launched his career as the master of bad taste. The Purple Rose of Cairo, Grey Gardens, Blue Velvet, and Yellow Submarine round out the rainbow on successive Mondays.

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