Thursday, June 13, 2013

Week of June 14 to June 20 (Rhoades)

Spanning Time With Four Tropic Movies

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

From the Jazz Age to the Future, this week’s films at the Tropic Cinema cover an amazing span of time.
Baz Luhrmann’s over-the-top telling of “The Great Gatsby” captures the opulence of the Roarin’ Twenties while at the same time unfolding F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tragic love story. Jay Gatsby (brilliantly played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is a self-made man who throws lavish parties at his Long Island mansion in hopes of luring his lost love (Daisy Buchanan as embodied by British actress Carey Mulligan) back into his arms. Witness to these love-gone-awry events is Daisy’s cousin (Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway). Infidelity, unbridled wealth, fast cars, and an effort to recapture the past mesh together to make this a must-see film. Some literary authorities find it spot-on, while others think it misses the mark. You decide after accepting this invitation to Gatsby’s party. ABC News says, “When you throw in the extravagant sets, costumes and visual effects, it’s as if you’re watching a moving painting. New York in the 1920s could not look any more beautiful.” And Detroit News opines that it’s “a cool movie, in both the positive and negative sense.”
At the other page of the calendar is “Star Trek Into Darkness,” the latest voyage of the starship Enterprise -- boldly going where no one has gone before. Here, Captain James Kirk (Chris Pine) and his first officer Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto) take on the wrath of Kahn as they chase down a renegade Starfleet officer who killed Kirk’s old mentor. You’ll find this second J.J. Abrams trek worth the journey, with all the familiarity of Gene Roddenberry’s original, plus an uncredited guest appearance by Spock Prime (Leonard Nimoy) and new CGI effects that move at warp speed. The Quad City Times notes, “Even old-school Trekkers will enjoy this voyage.” And the Wall Street Journal says, “While the action is often electric, it’s the relationships that matter.”
Closer to our time frame is “Tiger Eyes,” the bittersweet movie based on a favorite Judy Blume young adult novel. As directed by her son Lawrence, you will be touched by the story of a teenage girl dislocated from New Jersey to New Mexico after the death of her father. Willa Holland is engaging as the eponymous Tiger Eyes and Tatanka Means shows star quality as Wolf. Especially moving is the last screen appearance of Tatanka’s real-life father, Native American actor and activist Russell Means. The Chicago Tribune describes it as “a gentle, honest and shrewdly realized film ... worth seeking out.” The Dallas Morning News concludes, “The story, adapted by Blume with her son, director Lawrence Blume, seems as fresh, painful and poignant as when she wrote it.”
And new to Tropic screens is “Kon-Tiki,” the dramatization of Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 expedition on which he sailed from Peru to the Tuamotu Islands on a flimsy raft to prove that primitive people could have crossed the Pacific. A Ryan Gosling lookalike, Pål Sverre Hagen is convincing as Heyerdahl in this beautifully filmed sea adventure. The Philadelphia Inquirer described it as “a widescreen man-against-nature epic, beautifully shot and boasting seamless, stunning visual effects.” And the Austin Chronicle called it “absorbing and often lyrical.”
Yes, movies are the ultimate time machine.

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