Thursday, October 24, 2013

Week of Oct. 25 to Oct. 31 (Rhoades)

From “Prisoners” to “Wadjda” to “Muscle Shoals,”
Tropic Cinema Fills Its Screens With Watch-Worthy Films

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

If you haven’t seen “Prisoners,” the powerful kidnapping movie with Hugh Jackman and Terrence Howard as fathers who have lost their daughters, and Jake Gyllenhaal as the lawman trying to find them, here’s your chance as it moves to the Tropic. Sometimes you’ll be tempted to shut your eyes, but this is brilliant filmmaking nonetheless. Screenwize notes “This moody police procedural with Jake Gyllenhaal in sublime form may be nearly three hours long, but it's worth every minute.” And 3AW says, “It captures that white-hot skewer of fear that must run through the heart and mind of every parent who has ever suddenly looked around them and thought, ‘Where's my kid?’”

New to local screens is “Wadjda,” a Saudi Arabian film about a young girl who wants to earn money to buy a green bicycle. Director Haifaa Al-Mansour is the first Saudi female to ever direct a feature film. St. Louis Post-Dispatch observes, “This delightful debut feature by a Saudi woman uses a bicycle as a metaphor for freedom.” Austin Chronicle says, “Al-Mansour's story is relatively simple, although the world it reveals is deeply complex.” And Boston Globe reminds us that the delightful film “offers a character with universal resonance and appeal.”

Another new film is “Muscle Shoals,” an ear-filling documentary about the Alabama studio where such legends as Percy Sledge, Gregg Allman, Mick Jagger, Bono, Aretha Franklyn, among others, made music. Behind it all is Rick Hall, the man who created the Muscle Shoals sound. Variety proclaims, “Greg Camalier’s debut feature offers a worthy if sometimes ponderous take on a significant slice of U.S. popular music history.” And Hollywood Reporter says, “Even casual music fans will enjoy this behind-the-hits doc.”

Still playing is “Don Jon,” Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s portrait of a young man who loves his porn more than his relationship with a hot chick (Scarlett Johansson). But an older woman (Julianne Moore) helps change his outlook. Richard Roeper calls it an “offbeat, frank and often surprising gem.” And Laramie Movie Scope sees it as “a very funny, well-written film. Unlike most romantic comedies, it is both thought-provoking and introspective.”

Also holding over is “Enough Said,” a rom-com about two divorced middle-aged people (Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini) who make unforgivable mistakes that may just deserve forgiveness. Time Out calls it “a smart comedy about dating in your 50s.” And Detroit News says, “The easy chemistry between Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini is wonderfully charming -- you’re rooting for them even as the falsehoods pile up and the poison begins to flow.”

That’s a darn good movie lineup, a perfect antidote for the silliness of last week’s Fantasy Fest.

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