Saturday, August 25, 2012

Week of August 24 to August 30 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

There’s a changing of the guard in SuperHeroes Land this week. Spider-Man has gone back to his nest, replaced by Batman and ParaNorman.

PARANORMAN? He can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound and he doesn’t wear a cape. He’s just a kid. But he can speak to the dead, and he’s the only person who can save his town from The Curse of the Witch. He uses his talent for ordinary things, like chatting with his deceased grandmother, but the real focus is on a cult of zombies who threaten the town. They’re horrid creatures with skull-like heads and body parts that drop off and get reattached. The horde of kids with me in the theater loved them.

This is a stop-motion animation from the Seattle-based studio that brought us Coraline, so it’s got a more subdued, less-color-saturated look than the Pixar features. But don’t worry, there are plenty of special effects when the witch roars into town. Thank goodness for Norman and his team – a snarky teen-aged sister, and three low-I.Q. guys – a fat kid, a reformed bully, and a gay hunk – who manage to arrange a sit-down for Norman and the witch. Your kids will be cheering. “It's freakishly funny, suddenly tender, gleefully macabre, genuinely scary, and full of a moral – fear turns weak people into bullies – which is dosed out so gently that it never tastes like medicine.” (Lawrence Toppman, Charlotte Observer)

You probably know the background of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, the final episode of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Long self-exiled, and injured from his previous exploits, the Caped Crusader is forced to come out of retirement to save Gotham from a latter day fascist named Bane. If you’re a fan of Nolan, either his previous Batmans or films like Inception, you’re going to love this for its over the top, epic cinematic superlatives. “The biggest, darkest, most thrilling and disturbing and utterly balls-out spectacle ever created for the screen.” (Andrew O’Hehir, “The best, most troubling, assured and enthralling of all the superhero movies.” (Richard Corliss, Time Magazine)

Meanwhile back in the real world, the genius of narrative story-based film is the ability to conjure up a set of characters and place them in situations of unique stress. How about the group in YOUR SISTER’S SISTER? Iris (Emily Blunt) is a young woman with a secret crush on Jack (Mark Duplass), who also has a secret crush on her. To help him out when he’s out of work and at loose ends, she offers to let him stay in her father’s empty cabin on a remote island. But unbeknownst to Iris, her beautiful sister Hannah (Rosemary DeWitt) is already holing up there, having broken up with her long-term lover.

That’s the setup. It can go a lot of ways. You pretty much know that at some point the crushes are going to get revealed. And at some point the guy and the beautiful sister are going to get something on, though you may keep saying “No, no” to yourself as you see it happening. But what you can’t expect is where the plot goes beyond that, as each step leads to new complications.
“So many movies try to capture human relationships and fail miserably. A few come close. Your Sister's Sister nails it with grace, humor and winning charm.” (Claudia Puig, USA Today) ”Very little is simple in Your Sister's Sister -- not the emotions, the naturalistic tone or the unstudied, easygoing performances. But the film's pleasures are.” (Ann Hornaday, Washington Post)

More for kids on Saturday, with the animated ROBOTS at 10:30am in the Kids $1 Movie series and THE CRAWLING EYE as the week’s Creature Feature at noon.
Adults are back in charge for the Monday Classic with FLASHDANCE (1983) at 7:00pm.
Full info and schedules at or

No comments: