Thursday, August 22, 2013

Week of August 23 to August 29 (Rhoades)

Woody Allen’s Latest Debuts at the Tropic Cinema

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Here’s the one we’ve all been waiting for, Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine.” This annual outing by the Woodman may be set in New York and San Francisco, but it hits close to home because the film is somewhat inspired by “A Streetcar Named Desire,” penned by Tennessee Williams while holed in in Key West’s La Concha Hotel.

Like Blanche DuBois, Jasmine (brilliantly portrayed by Cate Blanchett, who has also starred in the Tennessee Williams Pulitzer Prize-winning play) is a woman who has fallen on hard times and is forced to move in with her sister and her sister’s earthy mate.

Alec Baldwin appears in flashbacks as Jasmine’s Bernie Madoff-like husband, Hal. Sally Hawkins takes on the role of Jasmine’s adopted sister, Ginger. And Bobby Cannavale plays the rough-around-the edges boyfriend, Chili.

Sure, it’s a drama, but written and directed by Woody Allen you know there are funny moments as we watch this fallen socialite come unraveled. Detroit News observes, “As Jasmine's story is revealed, and as Blanchett manages the fragile mask of her character's sanity, the film builds to a mighty emotional pitch.” The San Francisco Examiner notes “Blanchett gives her best-ever performance.” And Austin Chronicle concludes “The Woody Allen mojo is at work in his latest film.”

Still showing at the Tropic is “I’m So Excited,” the Pedro Almodóvar comedy about crew and passengers on a damaged airplane. Unlike  Almodóvar’s more serious films, this is a silly sex farce (with Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz, and Paz Vega appearing in cameo roles). Newsday calls it “Too broad for the tarmac.” And the Philadelphia Inquirer sees it as “A mescaline-alcohol-and-panic-fueled orgy of confessional dialogue, sex acts, arguments, confessional monologues, and more sex acts.”

Also holding over is “Blackfish,” a riveting documentary about aqua-park killer whales who live up to their name. Minneapolis Star Tribune calls it “a compelling case that the cruelty of life in captivity is the cause for a rash of fatal attacks by orcas on their trainers….”

And you can still catch “Despicable Me 2,” the 3-D animated story about a supervillain-gone-good. Voiced by Steve Carell, with the love interest provided by funny girl Kristen Wiig, it’s even better than the first movie. Combustible Celluloid says, “The movie captures that magical mixture: naughtiness and goodness.” Entertainment Spectrum applauds “The minions are back and better than ever.”

Here too we have “The Conjuring,” a spooky movie based on a true story about Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga), the paranormal investigators who discovered the Amityville Horror. The Observer calls it a “smart, stylish horror flick.” And SFX describes it as “a meticulously and ingeniously crafted scare machine.”

Moving over to the Tropic is “2 Guns,” a funny shoot-em-up buddy flick about a DEA agent (Denzel Washington) and a Navy Intelligence op (Mark Wahlberg) who are both working undercover, unknown to each other. Bang, bang. Capital Times says, “There's a relaxed confidence to ‘2 Guns’ that's refreshing.” Boston Globe calls it a “knockoff of 'Lethal Weapon'.” And Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes that “the easy rapport between Washington and Wahlberg makes this well-shot comedy-thriller far more engaging than it has any right to be.”

Yes, it’s a good week at the Tropic Cinema for film fanatics!

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