Saturday, May 18, 2013

Week of May 17 to May 23 (Rhoades)

Tropic Cinema Mixes Inspiring Features and a Doc-Hybrid.

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

You can catch some great feature films this week at the Tropic. As well as a feature-like documentary.
Take “Mud,” for instance -- a Mark Twain-like tale about two Arkansas boys who happen upon a fugitive hiding out on a small Mississippi island, waiting to rendezvous with his elusive true love. Matthew McConaughey is the titular man on the run and Reese Witherspoon is the girl with “good luck” nightingales tattooed on her hands. “Mud” ranks an impressive 98% on Rotten Tomatoes based on a poll of 119 film critics. The Observer says it’s a “film is drenched in the humidity and salty air of a Delta summer.” Quad City Times calls it “a sublime coming-of-age film.” And New York Post proclaims it as “a wonderful, piquant modern-day variation on Huckleberry Finn.''

“The Sapphires” will have you tapping your feet as an alcoholic Irishman (Chris O’Dowd) fashions four Australian Aborigine women into Motown-like soul singers. Although mostly a comedy, it has its serious moments as the manager goes missing during a Vietnam tour. The Toronto Star calls it a “Commitments-style mashup of music and melodrama.” And the Movie Report declares it “a surefire crowd pleaser.”

“Disconnect” connects with today’s world of invasive technology, a multi-story drama with usually droll Jason Bateman in a serious role. Bateman is a father whose son is a cyber-bully, while Alexander Skarsgard and Paula Patton are victims of identity theft, and Andrea Riseborough is an journalist who gets involved with a teen who does online porn. It’s enough to make you put away your computer. “A dark but powerful cautionary tale,” says the Times-Picayune. “There’s no way to see this film and not be concerned every time an electronic device is used,” warns the Fresno Bee.

“42” tells the inspiring story of Jackie Robinson, the Brooklyn Dodgers ballplayer who crossed the color line. Chadwick Boseman is convincing as the African American with the guts not to fight back, and Harrison Ford turns grumpy old man as Dodgers exec Branch Rickey. Denver Post describes this as “a vital chapter in this nation's history.” And Combustible Celluloid saw it as a “wonderful, huge, glossy, mythical portrait of America's growing pains.”

“Angels’ Share” is a Scottish comedy (yes, with subtitles) about four miscreants who decide to steal a valuable cask of malt whisky from an auction house. You’ll learn a lot about distilling liquor as you join Paul Brannigan in this humorous little crime caper. The East Bay Express describes it “as heartwarming and uplifting as any tale could be that features vicious beatings and grand larceny.” And the St. Paul Pioneer Press advises moviegoers to “Drink it up!”

“No Place on Earth” is a documentary about two families of Jews who hid in a Ukrainian cave for a year and a half to avoid Hitler’s Gestapo. While this is a true-life documentary, many of the events are reenacted, making it a “doc-hybrid.” Paste magazine termed it “an incredible story of endurance.” And The Philadelphia Enquirer calls it “both terrifying and inspiring.”

There you have it, five features and a documentary. Or what you might call “a good week at the Tropic.”

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