Sunday, October 21, 2012

Week of October 19 to October 25 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

The test of a great actor is the ability to switch personas. Nicole Kidman certainly qualifies. In her latest release, THE PAPERBOY, opening at the Tropic this week, she’s Charlotte Bless, a tackily dressed slut, whose hobby is corresponding with convicts. Meanwhile, she’s currently filming the role of the definition of elegance, Grace Kelly (in Grace of Monaco).

In The Paperboy, she’s fallen in love with one of her more sinister correspondents, a murderer named Hillary Von Wetter (John Cusak), who seems to have a way with words. This brings her in contact with Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey), a crusading journalist who thinks that Von Wetter was wrongly convicted. McConaughey continues his 2012 role roll at the Tropic, following up on Killer Joe, Magic Mike, and Bernie, in which he’s been showing his acting chops.

With the help of his brother Jack (Zac Efron), another journalist (David Oyelowo) and Ms. Superslut, they form a team to take on a redneck Florida town and Evergladian swamps, where the corrupt officials and demon nature seem to be conspiring against them. And they have little help from Von Wetter, who, when the team visits him in prison, is more interested in getting Charlotte to spread her legs for his amusement than talk to his saviors. She obliges with gusto.

“A fever dream of a mystery yarn - about sex, about race, about violence, about wide lapels and bouffant hairdos. And did I say it's about sex?” (Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer)

 “Everybody in this lurid insane asylum of a movie wants everybody else. This is just the sort of movie certain people are hoping to see when they go to the movies but would never say they go to the movies for.” (Wesley Morris, Boston Globe)

KEEP THE LIGHTS ON is also about sex, about a gay affair that begins as phone sex and builds into a long term relationship that lasts for a decade. The place is New York City, and stresses of gay life and a drug habit create a tense and revealing portrait.

“A haunting, immersive portrait of a romance between two men, one that's marked - and marred - by both drug dependency and emotional codependency. Not unlike last year's gay-themed drama, Weekend, it proves an important and mature piece of business.” (Gary Goldstein, L.A. Times)

“Its subject is not addiction or ambition, or even love in a conventional romantic sense, but rather the more elusive and intriguing matter of intimacy: how it grows, falters and endures over time.” (A.O. Scott, New York Times)

On the lighter side, we have PITCH PERFECT, a breakout role for Rebel Wilson, whom you’ll recognize as the plus-sized girl from Bridesmaids. Now she’s the self-described “Fat Amy,” part of a college song and dance group that’ll knock your socks off. Bridesmaids meets Glee, and what’s not to like. “A comedy about an all-female collegiate a cappella group. And to paraphrase one of the characters in the movie, it's A-Ca-Awesome.” (Randy Cordova, Arizona Republic)

Or what about FRANKENWEENIE 3D, Tim Burton’s animated, black and white tribute to a rogue’s gallery of horror villains. It’s all about a boy who reanimates his beloved dog with a Frankenstein-like electrical jolt. “Great cinema, good fun, a visual feast for pie-eyed Burton fans - and a terrifically warped reminder of just how freaky a PG film can be” (Amy Biancolli, San Francisco Chronicle)

If that appeals to you, then break out your costumes for THE UNDEAD LIVE… a revival of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD on Sunday. It’s a benefit for the Tropic Volunteer Program, with a raffle, appetizers and Blood Punch!

Full info and schedules at or

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