Friday, July 20, 2012

Week of July 20 to July 26 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic

by Phil Mann

Benicio Del Toro was a Mexican anti-drug cop in the movie Traffic, back in 2000. Now, in SAVAGES, he’s back as a drug thug, head of the “northern” branch of a Mexican cartel headed by the beautiful Elena Sanchez (Salma Hayek). These Mexicans are savages, relishing torture and decapitation to keep the competition in line. Now they want to move in on the business of a couple of California surfer dudes,  Chon (Taylor Kitch) and Ben (Aaron Johnson), who have built a successful, though slightly illegal, business selling “premo” marijuana, while remaining nice guys. Chon is an ex-Navy Seal, back from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, while Ben is a Buddhist-botanist, who gets his pleasure building water systems for African villages. What bonds these guys together is their business, and their shared (in all ways) love for Ophelia (Blake Lively) a blonde airhead.

Think you knonw who’s going to win when the cartel pursues its unfriendly takeover? Not so quick. Director Oliver Stone is a talented guy, winner of three Oscars (Midnight Express, Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July), who knows how to crank up a plot. Turns out the boys have an ally in the local D.E.A. agent (John Travolta) who’s on their payroll, plus Chon has a cadre of ex-Seals who know a thing or two about armaments and munitions, and Ben’s buddies are IT masters.
I can’t tell you how it’s going to turn out, but I can assure you that there’s lots of blood and guts on the way. “Savages is Oliver Stone's strongest work in years - a stylish, violent, hallucinatory thriller with both a mean streak and a devilish sense of humor.” (Ty Burr, Boston Globe)

In keeping with the Tropic programmer’s efforts to bring a mix of offerings to The George, he’s lined up a nature documentary and a drama.

The subject of the documentary, OTTER 501, is sea otters, surely one of the most anthropomorphizable creatures on earth. Watch one floating on his back, with his tummy as a plate and managing his food with little hand-like claws, while giving you a look of “don’t you wish you could do this,” and you’ll be smitten for life. That’s what happened to Katie Pofahl, a 20-something woman who volunteered at the Monterey Aquarium and helped rescue an injured otter. It’s a great, and beautifully filmed, nature lesson that goes down easily. “The stars of the film are so entertaining, the tricks seem superfluous. Sometimes all you need are otters.” (Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle)

The drama PEACE, LOVE AND MISUNDERSTANDING depends on human stars, in this case Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, and Elizabeth Olsen. They are three generations who come together on a Woodstock farm. Grace is an aging hippie (Fonda); Diane her straight, lawyer daughter (Keener); and Zoe their ripening daughter/granddaughter (Olsen). Diane has been estranged from her mother for twenty years in rebellion against the potted lifestyle, but a sudden breakup with her husband has shaken her. Piling her kids in the SUV, she decides to pursue reconciliation. With a good deal of comedy and easy-listening dialogue, things work out. “There is something kind of groovy about Peace, Love & Misunderstanding…. rarely has head-to-toe tie-dye been pulled off with such flare.” (Betsy Starkey, L.A. Times)

A duo of summer hits, MOONRISE KINGDOM and TO ROME WITH LOVE are held over.

Special Events all weekend. On Friday morning, Brian Gordon Sinclair repeats his one-man show HEMINGWAY ON STAGE: THE ROAD TO FREEDOM.

Saturday morning Kids $1 Club shows PETER PAN.

On Sunday night the Florida Keys Help Line has put together a benefit “Sunday Evening with Papa.” They’re showing the classic TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, plus a cocktail reception and silent auction. You can just come to the reception, or add the movie, as you wish. Details at

And on Monday it’s Burt Reynolds in THE CANNONBALL RUN for this week’s Road Trippin’ Classic.

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