Thursday, August 8, 2013

Week of August 9 to August 16 (Rhoades)

Two New Films and Three Holdovers Add Up As “Plenty to See”

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Two new films edge onto the screens at the Tropic Cinema -- “Unfinished Song” and “Fruitvale Station.”

Once a pretty boy, now-75-year-old Terence Stamp acts his age in “Unfinished Song,” the story of a grumpy old widower who joins a chorus against his better judgment. Yes, it changes his life. Funny, serious, and a great performance by Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave, and Gemma Arterton. The Seattle Times describes it as a “gentle story of a marriage, and of how music can help make a broken heart whole again.” While the Chicago Sun-Times sees it as a “modest, tear-jerking charmer ….”

The other new entry, “Fruitvale Station,” offers a grim view of life in the Bay area. Winner of both a Grand Jury Prize and an Audience Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, it tells the true story of Oscar Grant (played here by Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old who vows to change his life for the better … and does, sorta. But as the old saying goes, No good deed goes unpunished. The Denver Post says, “It’s hard not to watch ‘Fruitvale Station’ with a coiled dread....” The Sacramento Bee notes that the film’s “arrival in theaters corresponds with the outcry over the Trayvon Martin case.” And Reno News and Reviews calls it “One of the year’s best films.”

Still playing are those two wonderful coming-of-age films, “The Way, Way Back” and “The Kings of Summer” -- a counterpoint to the aforementioned embracing-old-age film, “Unfinished Song.”

“The Way, Way Back” has the ring of truth as it follows dorky Duncan (Liam James) on a summer vacation to the Massachusetts Shore with his mom (Toni Collete) and her mean-spirited boyfriend (yes, Steve Carell) … to a life-changing encounter with Owen (Sam Rockwell), the cool manager of the Water Wiz aqua park. New Yorker says, “Once again, the oppressed American teen-ager lopes and shuffles to center stage, there to display his woes.” However, The Atlantic counters that it “just may be the best movie of the summer.”

“The Kings of Summer” harkens back to “Stand By Me” as three disparate teens run away from home and claim their freedom in a tree house. The Miami Herald calls it “A warm and affectionate comedy about that last great summer when you're 13 or 14 and you don’t realize just how much your life is about to change and things will never be the same.” The Dissolve describes it as a “hand-me-down Wes Anderson.” Nonetheless, Creative Loafing says it’s “pretty much guaranteed to make viewers feel like a million bucks.”

Simply want a few giggles? Well, the Tropic is still turning up “The Heat,” the cop comedy that pairs Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy as odd-couple lawmen … uh, I mean lawwomen. says, “There’s an edgy but rewarding chemistry between Bullock and McCarthy.” Movie Talk calls it “crude and rude,” but concludes that “as Bullock’s by-the-book prissiness collides with McCarthy's slobbish street savvy, its leading ladies strike scintillating comic sparks off each other.”

There you have it, two new films and three continuing offerings. Plenty to see at the Tropic.

No comments: