Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Week of August 31 to September 6 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

Can you imagine being married to Meryl Streep and not wanting to sleep with her… not even sleep in the same bedroom? Can you imagine Tommy Lee Jones as a sexless, boring tax accountant? Well, be prepared to suspend your disbelief and check out HOPE SPRINGS.

Kay (Streep) and Arnold (Jones) live in a nice house in Omaha and have two nice grown children. He has a nice job, she has a nice one in retail, and they are perfectly nice to each other, with not an unkind word ever uttered. All perfect… except that they barely relate. They don’t talk and haven’t slept together in years. Just two souls who happen to live in the same house, who once meant something to each other. But all that is challenged when she coerces him into attending an “intensive” couple’s counseling program in Maine. The counselor (a very earnest and serious Steve Carrell employing his Office-style deadpan but without the absurdity) leads them though a serious of exercises. Starting with just touching, the goal is to get them to a home run.

Go and root for the home team. “An oddly ambitious blend of bland humor and startling insight into the realities of married life. It’s something like Ingmar Bergman’s “Scenes From a Marriage,” as translated into the universe of the Lifetime Network.” (Andrew O’Hehir, “A surprise that sneaks up and moves you.” (Joe Morgenstern, Wall St. Journal)

It seems to be that whether you’re a liberal or a conservative, a Democrat or a Republican, a Tea Partyer or an Occupyer, you should be worried about the impact of worldwide droughts and declining water resources. Ditto the pollution of water supplies by poor environmental practices. I mean guys, this is Water we’re talking about.

That’s the theme of LAST CALL AT THE OASIS , a documentary that tries to open our eyes to an emerging crisis. So in a rational world you would expect universal interest in the movie. But we live in a world where anything smacking of environmental concerns is treated as an anti-American conspiracy. If you believe in creationism (as 46% of Americans apparently do), and that climate change is just God playing around, then of course droughts are just another Godly act. But if you’re from the rational half of the population, you might appreciate viewing this movie. “As a lucid, emotionally involving portrait of the looming crisis surrounding water --supplies of which are dwindling as contamination rises - Jessica Yu's smartly constructed argument works less as a tutorial than as an infectiously impassioned call to arms.” (Ann Hornaday, Washington Post) “Whether the glass is half full or half empty isn't the point of the effervescent Last Call at the Oasis: It's whether there'll be anything in the glass at all.” (John Anderson, Variety)

Since last week was a short one, what with the Sunday closure for Isaac (more fun from God), three films are held over: the stop-motion animated story of a witch-taming kid PARANORMAN (in 2D and 3D); the conclusion to the latest Batman trilogy THE DARK KNIGHT RISES; and the indie relationship comedy YOUR SISTER’S SISTER.

The Saturday Kids series is over for the summer, but the Monday Classics continue with a September theme of Back to School. There’s a new reduced pricing policy: only $6.00 for Tropic members and $8.50 for others. The opening movie in the series is Richard Linklater’s DAZED AND CONFUSED, a rollicking tale of 1976 Texas high schoolers celebrating the beginning of summer. “The ultimate party movie -- loud, crude, socially irresponsible and totally irresistible.” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)

On Wednesday, WomenFest comes to the Tropic with I STAND CORRECTED, a bio-pic about the great jazz bassist, Jennifer (formerly John) Leitham. Check out for more on Jennifer.

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