Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Week of November 23 to November 29 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic

by Phil Mann

ARGO is the feature film answer to Homeland, a suspenseful story of CIA intrigue in combating Middle East terrorism. In this case, it’s Iranian revolutionaries, who are trying to capture six Americans who fled to the Canadian embassy when their compatriots were being taken hostage. We all know about the others, but this group took a different path, thanks to a CIA “exfiltration” expert named Tony Mendez. And it’s apparently a true, stranger-than-fiction story. Ben Affleck directed and stars in the film, and he’s already gathering Oscar buzz.

“Tony's plan is … utterly preposterous as well as inventive and wildly daring…. If you've forgotten how gratifying a Hollywood studio film can be, this is the best good idea you could ask for.” (Joe Morgenstern, Wall St. Journal). “Argo is movie magic. Ben Affleck's third directorial outing is an entertaining, real-life, race-the-clock thriller that nabs you at the start and never makes a wrong move. (Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News)

The title of DETROPIA is an amalgam of Detroit and dystopia, which is what the formerly great city has become. Yet, there’s hope. If we could save GM and Chrysler, why not their milieu? It’s a frank, but sympathetic look at the city, at what happened to it, and at what it might become. “This documentary film, about the deconstruction of a great American city, is surprisingly lyrical and often very moving. (David Denby, The New Yorker). “The oddly beautiful documentary made by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Gray is subtler and richer than its blunt title suggests.” (Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune)

 TRADE OF INNOCENTS is a Cambodian-set thriller about a couple (Mira Sorvino and Dermot Mulroney) on a mission to break up the sex trade in young girls. Not a documentary, but nonetheless an exposé of a social horror. “I think the beauty of Trade of Innocents is that we see that the "commodities traded" are actually beautiful, sensitive little children being bought by adult men for sex. It puts the human tragedy front and center,” says Sorvino.

The BIG NEWS for next weekend is the Key West Film Festival. It kicks off on Thursday with a welcoming party at the Hemingway House, followed by a screening of WHILE WE WERE HERE at the San Carlos. The movie stars Kate Bosworth (Straw Dogs, 21, Superman Returns) as a married woman having an affair with a young man on an Italian island. The Playlist says it “delivers the sensuality of the sunkissed shores of Naples.” Writer/director Kat Coiro will be on hand to introduce it and take questions afterward.

The full Festival program rolls into action on Friday, on all four Tropic screens and at the San Carlos. With more than thirty movies, I can’t cover them all. Look back at my past columns for comments on SHADOW DANCER, STARLET, THE SAPPHIRES, TIGER EYES, THE PLAYROOM and QUARTET. Week of Nov. 9 to Nov. 15, Week of Nov. 16 to Nov. 22.

Here’s a peek at a couple more.

SOMEWHERE BETWEEN is a documentary about four international adoptees, “Chinese girls emotionally divided between the Asian country in which they were born and the America in which they were raised... you’d have to be a stone not to be moved.” (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times). Another documentary is EL MEDICO: THE CUBATON STORY. Like Buena Vista Social Club it combines the personal story of a Cuban musician with plenty of his music and dancing. Is he El Medico – the doctor his mother wants him to be, or Cubaton -- the reggae singer his Swedish music producer is trying to develop? “Takes us on a wonderful authentic trip into the heart of Cuba.” (Linda Sweatt, SBCC Film Reviews)

IN ANOTHER COUNTRY presents us with three overlapping small love stories, all featuring the same cast headed by the well-known French star Isabelle Huppert. It’s directed by Sang-soo Hong (known as Korea’s Eric Rohmer) and set at a seaside town in his home country. “While it doesn’t shy away from telling moments of harshness, it’s for the most part bright and breezy viewing, matching its picturesque and sunny seaside scenery with mischievous insights.” (James Mudge, Beyond Nominated for the Palm d’Or at Cannes, this is a must for fans of French cinema. (Despite its foreign aspects, the movie’s language is English. How else can the French and Koreans communicate?)

GAYBY is one of several LBGT-themed films at the Festival. This one’s a comedy about a straight girl who wants to get pregnant, and her male gay best friend who helps her “the old fashioned way.” Sharp and witty, and set in Brooklyn, you’ll be reminded of Lena Dunham’s Girls, with cameos from her cast-mates Adam Driver and Alex Karpovsky. “Like Dunham's show, Gayby draws zeitgeist-y, situational laughs from the lives of people it seems to know, rather than straining to position itself as a hip authority…. If it's not the best comedy of the year, it's easily the best to transcend the comedy formula.” (R. Kurt Osenlund, Slant Magazine)

LET MY PEOPLE GO is another comedy from the LBGT-themed group. Reuben is a French-Jewish gay working as a postman in Finland (after completing his degree in comparative sauna cultures). It’s “a hectic, colour-saturated Euro farce that sends up a multitude of stereotypes.” (Craig Takeuchi,
There’s a lot more at this link: That’ll bring up the full schedule with interactive links to info about each film. Just hover your mouse over any movie in the schedule for a summary and cast list.

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