by Phil Mann
A couple of biggies this week, led by PROMETHEUS the mega-budget, 3D, sci-fi thriller from Ridley Scott, director of the Alien series and Blade Runner, as well as reality-grounded films including Thelma and Louise and Black Hawk Down. It’s a new riff on the classic plot, space explorers from Earth travel in a remarkable spaceship (the titled Prometheus) to another world.
But this time, instead of a sharp crew of dedicated scientists, we have a mostly dysfunctional group of, well if I can put it bluntly, assholes. They’re led by a corporate bitch (Charlize Theron) who seems to want the mission to fail, and two starry-eyed idealistic archeologists (Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green) who think they are pursuing the meaning of life. The only solid citizen is the captain of the ship (Idris Elba -- Stringer Bell from The Wire), who brings Baltimore drug-dealer street smarts to this space show.
Nonetheless, the action is unending as this motley crew, with the help of a walking, talking humanoid (Michael Fassbender) who’s smarter than them all, face up to terrifying aliens. There’s a giant guy who looks like a bulked up Woody Harrelson but is played by a 7'1" tall actor (Ian Whyte), and a bunch of slithy toves that gyre and gimble in the wabe. Thank God for little Noomi, whose Dragon Tattoo training comes in handy here. “A magnificent science-fiction film, all the more intriguing because it raises questions about the origin of human life and doesn't have the answers.” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
ROCK OF AGES is a comedic spoof of the heavy metal rock world, with an unlikely set of actors. The lead rocker is Tom Cruise… yes, that Tom Cruise… parading around on the stage with his guitar and no shirt. In the back room, as a club owner and manager respectively are Alec Baldwin and Paul Giamatti. Looking to close the club down is Catherine Zeta-Jones. The plot follows the arc of Drew (Diego Boneta) and Sherrie (Julianne Hough), a couple of aspiring new arrivals to L.A. and the rock scene, who want to make it big.
The movie is reputed to be Mamma Mia for metalheads, but don’t worry, it “doesn't require anyone to love metal, or even like it. It only requires us to laugh at it…. Tom Cruise as a bandanna-headed Axl Rose type will hit you as the purest bit of genius in the man's entire film career.” (Amy Biancolli, San Francisco Chronicle) “Blessed with unstoppable energy, an undeniably bawdy sense of fun and Tom Cruise in backless leather pants, it takes songs you may never have loved and turns them into a musical that's easy to enjoy.” (Kenneth Turan, L.A. Times)
THEY CALL IT MYANMAR: Lifting the Curtain takes us backstage, as it were, to the country known during British Colonial rule as Burma. It’s an exposé of the military dictatorship, but also a tribute to the strength of dissident leader, and Nobel Prize winner, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. With gorgeous Buddist temples, the newly-opened Myanmar is on the short list of exotic travel destinations. This is your chance for an easy preview. The “film, made unofficially and on a shoestring, is nevertheless a thing of beauty; its cinematography, music and contemplative words make it not an angry documentary but more a hymn to a land that has grown out of the oldest cultures in Asia.” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
GOODBYE FIRST LOVE takes us back to a time, as seen through the eyes of a 15-year-old French girl, Camille (Lola Créton), when the discovery of love seemed all consuming. The aptly named director, Mia Hansen-Løve, “limns the ecstasy and tumult of youthful, sometimes self-destructive passion,” as she “charts the bruising consequences of infatuation.” (Patrick McGavin, Boston Phoenix) “Goodbye First Love is like a postcard from a lost Eden, a painfully pure oasis where we're not allowed to linger.” (Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Holdover films this week are Woody Allen's TO ROME WITH LOVE and Wes Andersen's MOONRISE KINGDOM.
Get out your Special Event calendar for Thursday, when Brian Gordon Sinclair brings his one-man show HEMINGWAY ON STAGE: THE ROAD TO FREEDOM PT VI back to the Tropic. Mr. Sinclair’s performances channeling Papa H. have drawn rave reviews in past years. Ernest’s author-granddaughter Lorian Hemingway says "Brian portrays Hemingway On Stage with such brilliant form as to rival Hal Holbrook's Mark Twain." Tix are only $10, and available now at TropicCinema.com/special.html or the box office.
The Saturday $1 Kids Show this week is Steven Spielberg’s THE ADVENTURES OF TIN TIN, an animated adventure story. And the Monday Night Road Trippin’ Classic is MIDNIGHT RUN (1988) starring Robert De Niro as a hard-bitten bounty hunter.
Full info and schedules at TropicCinema.com or TCKW.info