Saturday, April 14, 2012

Week of April 13 to April 19 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

The oddly named SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is an offbeat comedy about… well, salmon fishing in Yemen. You see, Sheikh Muhammed, a Yemeni top dog, loves to go fly fishing, which makes sense in Scotland, where he discovered it, but not in the hot, dry desert where he lives. But this is just the sort of story that screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) loves to run with. And he’s got all-star support with director Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules) and actors Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Harriet (Blunt) is a young British aide to the Shiekh (Amr Waked – Syriana). She’s charged with the implausible conversion of a corner of Yemen into the Scottish Highlands. Dr. Alfred Jones (McGregor) is the UK fisheries expert who tells her it is impossible. And Patricia Maxwell (Scott Thomas) is the British Prime Minister’s press secretary who sees the international political capital to be gained, and tells Dr. Jones that he pretty damn well ought to make happen.

You see the possibilities. “An engaging love story that should appeal to moviegoers with a flair for the offbeat.” (Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post Dispatch) “A surprisingly lush, endearing little film, in which a swelling sense of romanticism thoroughly banishes even the most far-fetched improbabilities.” (Ann Hornaday, Washington Post)

It must be the week for fish stories. BIG MIRACLE is a docudrama about a pod of whales trapped in the ice at Barrow, the top of Alaska, in 1988. (Okay, whales aren’t fish, but….) Rachel Kramer (Drew Barrymore) is an enviro-activist trying to save the creatures. With her leading the way, as the world watched, the community gathered to help and the Soviets dropped their cold-war animosity.
This is real family fare, but “it’s an exciting, charming and often quite funny family film.” (Lou Lumenick, New York Post), and “a screwball comedy” to boot. (Liam Lacey, Toronto Globe and Mail)

While we’re on the subject of family-environmental movies, don’t miss THE LORAX, the latest animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss. The title character, in case you don’t know, is a grumpy forest creature fighting to save his world. And Ted is a boy who learns that you have to “really care” to do good. In 3D with the Tropic’s extraordinary Xpand active glasses giving you a sharper, brighter picture than anywhere else in town.

“A purely warm, wonderful, wise and hilarious family entertainment that is fantastic movie fun for everyone.” (Pete Hammond, BoxOffice Magazine)

If all this leaves you wishing for something more serious, THE KID WITH A BIKE is the answer. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, and a Golden Globe Best Foreign Film nominee, this movie tracks the plight of Cyril (Thomas Doret), an eleven-year-old boy who has been abandoned by his single-parent father and lost his bike in the process. If you’re familiar with the previous work of the Belgian writer-director team of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (Rosetta, The Child) you’ll understand that this is not going to be a glossy Spielbergian tear-jerker. But Cyril does find a home of sorts with a local hairdresser (Cécile De France), and their relationship provides an anchor as he copes with a life on streets ruled by Fagin-like toughs.

“Working on a scale that's minuscule by studio standards, the Dardenne brothers have made yet another movie that does what Hollywood used to do—keep us rapt, and leave us grateful.” (Joe Morgenstern, Wall St. Journal) “A quietly rapturous film about love and redemption…” (Manhola Dargis, New York Times)

This week’s Special Events bring us the Maysles brothers' classic documentary on Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter, Edie, GREY GARDENS. These relatives of Jackie Kennedy Onassis are her polar opposites in life style, living in not very genteel poverty in a dilapidating mansion.

And the European opera series returns with RIGOLETTO, from the Royal Opera in London. It’s on Tuesday, live at 2:15pm (EDT) (7:15pm in London), with an encore showing at 7:00pm (EDT).

Full schedules and info on these and the holdover films W./E. and JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME, at or

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