Saturday, August 11, 2012

Week of August 10 to August 16 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

There’s a lot going on this week. Let’s take it day-by-day.

On Friday, the Visiting Filmmaker Series brings in Kevin Hanlon, the director of the new documentary BILL W., about Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Wilson was a modest man, committed to the low-profile ethos of AA, refusing even an honorary degree from Yale. But Time Magazine named him one of the most influential men of the 20th Century, for his role in creating a program that has provided a lifeline for millions and spawned imitators for other addictions.

The film, eight years in the making, is full of recovered images and footage of Wilson, and captures the history of the program as well as his contributions. “Laudatory but never simplistic, Bill W. is a thoroughly engrossing portrait of Wilson, his times and the visionary fellowship that is his legacy.” (Sheri Linden, L.A. Times)

Mr. Hanlon will attend the 6:45PM show on Friday, and take questions afterward. The movie will be running all week.

Also opening Friday is DARK HORSE, the latest from provocative filmmaker Todd Solondz. He’s known for his dark comedies, about sweet characters like pedophiles (Happiness, Life During Wartime). As he puts it: "There's good laughter and bad laughter. As long as they're not laughing at the expense of any of these characters, it's OK. My films are comedies, but they're sad comedies …." By that standard, Dark Horse is a barrel of laughs. The main character Abe (Jordan Gelber) is a 35-year-old loser living at home and working in his father’s office, while fantasizing about action figures. His parents, played by Christopher Walken and Mia Farrow, are a couple who make you understand why he might be messed up. But he thinks he’s found his true love in Miranda (Selma Blair) a depressed, affectless creature who doesn’t know how to say no. He wants to marry her and bring her home to live in his room.

 “Solondz’s most waywardly endearing film — his gentlest triumph.” (Richard Corliss, Time Magazine) “Dark Horse is irritating, baffling, disturbing and hypnotic.” (Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Saturday brings two Special Event films.
In the morning, at 10:30AM, it’s the Kids $1 Movie Club with BLACK STALLION (1979), the quintessential boy and his horse film. When I search my brain for the perfect family movie to please all ages, one of the first titles that always comes to mind is 1979's fantastic adventure, The Black Stallion." (Michael Booth, Denver Post) With Mickey Rooney as the wise old horse trainer, even grandparents will be able to indentify.

If this is too refined for you,
at noon you can slide over to the August Creature Feature, ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES (1960). Produced by the cheapie horror film master, Roger Corman, it’s drive-in theater nostalgia.

On Monday, the Everything ‘80ties Classic Series features FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (1982), the original high-school scorcher, starring Jennifer Jason Leigh and Sean Penn, among others.

And on Wednesday, there’s Cinema and Cuisine, a special fund-raiser and screening of JULIE AND JULIA. It’s for the benefit of the American Cancer Society, which selected the film as a tribute to writer/director Nora Ephron. Free food, silent auction and more. Tix only $20.
Meanwhile, the regular movie schedule rolls on, with BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, SAVAGES, TED, and BRAVE (in 3D), all held over.

Full info and schedules at or

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