by Phil Mann
HYSTERIA is hysterical. Director Tanya Wexler and the husband-wife writer team of Stephen and Jonah Lisa Dyer have spun a satirical rom-com out of the story of one Joseph Mortimer Granville, the Victorian inventor of the mechanical vibrator. The movie opens with an on screen message assuring us that it’s a true story… “Really.” Which we need to hear, because the plot that unrolls is so off-the-wall that we would otherwise think it is fantasy. Respectable doctors who built successful practices around massaging women to a happy finish, as cure for female “hysteria”? Really? Well yes. I ran home and looked it up. Guess those Victorians were more progressive than we thought.
Dr. Granville (Hugh Dancy -- The Jane Austen Book Club, Adam) He thinks he’s in love with Emily (Felicity Jones – Like Crazy, The Tempest), the strait-laced daughter of his patron. But her sister Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal – The Dark Knight, Secretary), a radical social reformer and feminist cannot be ignored. It’s a rom-com, so you can guess where these characters are going, but the vibrator is a MacGuffin to be reckoned with.
In MONSIEUR LAZHAR a substitute teacher is hired to replace a woman who hung herself in the classroom. While the suicide is the backdrop of this Quebec film, the movie is more about Lazhar, an Algerian immigrant who does not fully understand the customs of his new country. Tap a student who misbehaves? No, no. Ne touchez pas. But he is a good man, and the kids respond to that.
“What makes the film enthralling is the wisdom and grace with which it addresses the twin subjects of grief and healing, and the quiet beauty of Mohamed Fellag's performance in the title role.” (Joe Morgenstern, Wall St. Journal) “Nélisse, with her tough, Courtney Love puss, and Néron's portrayal of a boy's well-defended torment are extraordinary, as is the film's realization of the small, temporary world that surrounds them. Hitting upon that kind of specificity - of a moment and its emotion - makes for strong memories and a really great movie.” (Michelle Orange, Village Voice) Nominated for Best Foreign Film Academy Award this year.
The regular film schedule is rounded out with holdovers of the very popular THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, BERNIE and DARK SHADOWS.
The Summer of Fun series continues with the Saturday morning $1 Kids Club (no membership needed, and kids can bring adults for the same price) and the Monday Night’s Loveable Losers classics. For kids this week, it’s LITTLE RASCALS, the 1994 update of the old Our Gang comedies, bringing back Spanky and Alfalfa. For adults on Monday, it’s the great CADDYSHACK with Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray. Stay off the golf course.
Wednesday brings the first film presentation from the Summer 2012 Modern Dance Festival. THE MEN WHO DANCED is a documentary about Ted Shawn and the founding of Jacob’s Pillow.
Some future tips for your summer calendar: On Sunday night, June 24, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER comes to the Tropic with a special screening, Disco Costume Contest, Boogie Contest and Night Fever Raffle, all hosted by Frankie KeyWest. Tickets on sale now, $15.
If your tastes are more sedate, the South Florida Symphony will bring its Summer Chamber series to the Tropic stage on Wednesday, July 11, with a Dvořák and Mozart concert. Tickets available soon.
Full schedules and info at TropicCinema.com or TCKW.info