Friday, May 25, 2012

Week of May 25 to May 31 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

You’ve got to be excited about this week.

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL is the kind of movie that ends with spontaneous applause from the audience. How could they not? Take an ensemble cast of great older British actors – Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy – and mix in the young Indian star of Slumdog Millionaire (Dev Patel). The Brits all are ready for a retirement village, but why go to Florida when India is cheaper, and has more elephants? With that premise, director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) and screenwriter Ol Parker, have  delivered “a charming, funny and heartwarming movie…, a smoothly crafted entertainment that makes good use of seven superb veterans.” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)

Each has a story, keeping the action lively as we move back and forth, seeing how their differing attitudes and aspirations guide their adjustments to a world unlike any they have ever known, at an age when settled comfort is more the goal than exotic adventure. “The movie’s charms lie in its frank and amusing assessment of age — the limits often reside solely in your head — and in its heartening message that life isn’t over just because you’ve hit 65. As for the Marigold Hotel, well, it’s not the Delano. But overall it’s a fine spot to spend a couple of hours.” (Connie Ogle, Miami Herald)

The world of BULLY is one many of us are familiar with, if we can remember days in the schoolyard or school bus. Bullying is nothing new. Our local author Judy Blume’s book Blubber took on the problem in 1974. Ijime has long been recognized as a major social problem in Japan, where suicides are not uncommon. But recent events in the United States, including several deaths, have brought it to the fore. There’s even a video game titled “Bully” from the makers of Grand Theft Auto.

Lee Hirsch’s in-your-face documentary is no game. He follows five families in communities scattered around the country, showing not only examples of bullying but also the inadequate responses of administrators who are reluctant to acknowledge the problem. “Bully forces you to confront not the cruelty of specific children — who have their own problems, and their good sides as well — but rather the extent to which that cruelty is embedded in our schools and therefore in our society as a whole.” (A.O. Scott, New York Times) It is “a documentary as vivid as any horror film, as heartbreaking as any Oscar-worthy drama.” (Richard Corliss, Time Magazine)

For all shows of Bully, there’s a special reduced price of $3 for students and teachers (ID required), thanks to a generous grant from former School Superintendent John Padget. The current Superintendent Jesus Jara will introduce the 6:15PM screening on Friday evening.

An antidote to the sad lives of these victim kids is the New Zealand film BOY, set in an impoverished Maori village. The kids here don’t have much, but they have hopes and dreams. For eleven-year-old Boy, the title character, the focus is on his absent father, who returns during the course of the movie. It is “a comedy with a serious core. It's another case of a son having clung to an idealized notion of his father and, in a stunning climax and an exquisite coda, coming of age as he comes to grips with wounding truths.” (Joe Morgenstern, Wall St. Journal)

Monday night’s Mystery Classic is Hitchcock’s STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, starring Farley Granger, Robert Walker and Ruth Roman. It’s a convoluted twist of a murder mystery that will surprise you at every turn.

Full info and schedules at or

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