Thursday, April 18, 2013

Week of April 19 to April 25 (Rhoades)

This Week Take a Trip to (and With) the Tropic Cinema

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Front Row at the Movies

What geographic variety! From New York (“The Place Beyond the Pines” and “Koch”) to Japan (“Emperor” and “Like Someone in Love”), this week’s films at the Tropic take you around the world.
If you liked Ryan Gosling’s performance in “Blue Valentine,” you’ll be equally impressed by his “The Place Beyond the Pines.” Both were directed by Derek Cianfrance. Gosling helped Cianfrance come up with this story about a motorcycle stunt rider turned bank robbers … and an aftermath that affects the next generation. Bradley Cooper matches Gosling’s emoting as the ambitious cop who shoots it out with the not-so-bad guy.
In “Emperor” Tommy Lee Jones as Gen. Douglas MacArthur doesn’t get enough screen time, but his brief moment with Takatar├┤ Kataoka as Japan’s Emperor Hirohito is quite moving. However, at its heart, this is Matthew Fox’s movie, where he plays Gen. Bonner Fellers, MacArthur’s subordinate tasked with determining whether or not Hirohito is guilty of war crimes. With a tad of fact-bending, director Peter Webber gives us a fascinating history lesson and a love story all rolled into one epic movie.
Jude Law stars as a besieged shrink in Steven Soderbergh’s last film, “Side Effects.” Here you’ll find a medical thriller with lots of surprises. A suicidal young wife is prescribed a new drug by the shrink, only to have its side effects wreak havoc on his career, his family, and his relationship with the patient. Edge of your seat stuff!
Former New York City mayor Ed Koch is profiled in the same-named documentary, “Koch.” As directed by Wall Street Journal reporter Neil Barsky, the film delivers a fair assessment of the self-proclaimed People’s Mayor -- from political battles to accomplishments, scandals to colorful afterlife. As one who lived in NYC during Koch’s three terms I can attest to the film’s accurate portrait of a mayor who “fiercely loved” his city.
“Like Someone in Love” is a French-Japanese production directed by an Iranian filmmaker, Abbas Kiarostami. This subtitled film tells of the odd relationship between an elderly professor and a young Japanese student who finances her studies as a sexual escort. It features former teen model Rin Takanashi and 81-year-old stage actor Tadashi Okuno (in his first starring role). Their brief encounter is less about sex than needs. The old Ella Fitzgerald song lends its title to the movie … the emphasis on the word “like.”
No, you won’t be seeing Judy Garland clicking her red shoes, for “Oz the Great and Powerful” is a prequel to 1937’s beloved “Wizard of Oz.” Here, we have James Franco as a humbug named Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs … or to take the first two initials of his name: Oz. This 3-D extravaganza tells how the wizard came to rule the Land of Oz by overthrowing some evil witches and an army of Flying Monkeys.
New York, Japan … even Oz. Great travels at the Tropic.

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