Saturday, November 17, 2012

Week of Nov. 16 to Nov. 22 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

We’ve seen touching, and even crowd-pleasing movies about physically disabled heroes before. Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly brought us the true story of a fashion magazine editor with locked-in syndrome, who managed to write a book using eye-blinks. The Intouchables became the highest grossing film in French history with its story of a quadriplegic whose caregiver takes him on adventures like hang-gliding.

They’ve paved the way for THE SESSIONS, another true story, this one of a polio-stricken young man who is confined to an iron lung most of the day (John Hawkes). The adventure he seeks is more personal, sexual intercourse. And, thank God, there’s a sexual surrogate (Helen Hunt) and a tolerant priest (William H. Macy) who make it happen.

"The Sessions isn't really about sex at all. It is about two people who can be of comfort to each other, and about the kindness that forms between them. This film rebukes and corrects countless brainless and cheap sex scenes in other movies. It's a reminder that we must be kind to one another.” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)

The cast of A LATE QUARTET features some of our favorite actors: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, and Christopher Walken. But it’s Walken (who’s also starring in the held over SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS) who steals the show. He’s the senior member of a fabled string quartet, now in its 25th year, who has just received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. The movie is about that, and about how he and his fellow musicians deal with the impending collapse of their collaboration.

There are movies that seduce major actors with the prospect of becoming an action figure, and then there are others that earn their world-class casts by providing scenes that remind actors why they became actors. A Late Quartet is the second kind of movie.” (Mick LaSalle, S.F. Chronicle)  “Leave it to Walken to upstage Beethoven.” (Eric Kohn, Indie Wire)

HELLO I MUST BE GOING adds an unusual rom-com to the schedule. Melanie Lynsky (Win Win, Heavenly Creatures) is a 30-year-old divorcee who has crawled back to her parents’ house in suburban Connecticut. How about a hot 19-year-old to get her spirits up? “Warm and funny, real and raw, Hello I Must Be Going deserves a hearty welcome from moviegoers looking for an honest and frank comedy that never forgets to help us care about its characters.” (James Rocchi, The Playlist)

AN AFFAIR OF THE HEART, from the Toronto Hot Docs Festival, is the Rick Springfield story, his life and career as seen through the eyes of several dedicated fans. “A surprisingly touching look at how the 80s pop star has impacted the lives of his fans through his music, and how they in turn have affected him.” (Lauren Flanagan,

Speaking of festivals, now is the time to plan your weekend at the KEY WEST FILM FESTIVAL, coming up in only two weeks (Nov. 29-Dec. 2) More than forty movies will be unspooling in the San Carlos and on all four of the Tropic’s screens. I told you about SHADOW DANCER, STARLET, THE SAPPHIRES and TIGER EYES last week. Here’s a peek at a couple more.

QUARTET (not to be confused with The Late Quartet, discussed above) is Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut. The foursome of the title are retired opera singers, Maggie Smith and Tom Courtenay among them, sharing digs at a retirement home and finding a way back to their glory days. “Quartet has a warmth and charm that'll likely make it a firm hit with the same crowd that turned out for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” (Simon Reynolds, Digital Spy)

THE PLAYROOM features another appearance for the versatile John Hawkes. He’s the star of The Sessions (discussed above) and was a scene stealer in Winter’s Bone and Martha Marcy May Marlene. Now he’s a parent carousing downstairs while his four children invent a game of their own in the attic playroom. “An emotionally rich drama set in suburbia in 1975. Gathered around a candle to simulate a campfire setting, they improvise a tale about four orphaned kids who escape from their lonely castle and set out for adventure.” (Eric Snider,

The full schedule and descriptions of all the movies (and the parties, too) is at You’re sure to find something of interest. And, by the way, if you want this festival to succeed and come back next year, it’ll need your support. Come on folks, see at least one movie…. Or two or three.
See you at the Festival!

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