Friday, October 11, 2013

Week of October 11 to October 17 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

Romeo, Where Forth Art Thou? At the Tropic

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

The Bard now has a co-writer. For this latest film based on William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” Julian Fellowes (creator of TV’s “Downton Abbey) decided to help out with the dialogue. He has come under fire for rewriting certain passages.

“Of course I understand why Shakespeare experts are upset,” says the Oscar-winning screenwriter. “They feel he is either the greatest or one of the greatest writers that ever lived and why tamper with him.”

Why then? Fellowes says the idea was to make the story "more accessible and clearer," not to mention much shorter. “I mean the play is four hours,” he says. The movie is half that length.

“All the stuff you remember is all in, I don't think we've cut any line that is ever one of the quoted ones ... About 70 per cent of it is Shakespeare.”

The Oregonian says, “It works pretty smoothly, and should allow folks … to follow along without alienating too many purists.” Variety calls it “a desultory new version of Shakespeare's tragedy.” But Total Film sees it as a “perfectly respectable” production.

Another bard gets his due in “Salinger,” the new documentary about the author of “Catcher in the Rye.” J.D. Salinger was a great writer, but reclusive to the point of ceasing to publish his writings after 1965. Why? Filmmaker Shane Salerno tries to answer that question. “What emerges is a portrait of an enigma,” says the Seattle Times. And Globe and Mail calls it “a riveting picture of a contradictory, deeply selfish, troubled man.”

Moving to the Tropic is “Don Jon,” Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s study of a narcissistic guy whose world revolves around “My body, my pad, my ride, my family, my church, my boys, my girls, my porn.” Especially porn. Which creates a problem when he meets the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen in his life (Scarlett Johansson). Detroit News calls it “a convincing, authentic, funny, modern romance.” Three Movie Buffs dubs it “an impressive debut as writer/director/star.” And the Star-Democrat sees it as “very funny and with some social commentary.”

In “Enough Said” a divorced mom (Julia Louis-Dreyfus of “Seinfeld” fame) meets a less-than-perfect divorced dad (James Gandolfini) Things get complicated when she discovers that her massage client is her new boyfriend’s ex-wife. Philadelphia Inquirer says it’s “a romantic comedy about hurting the people you love.” And describes it as “a believable and organic funny-sad-dramatic tonal medley.”

Still playing is “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” a masterful look at the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of a White House butler who served eight presidents. Forest Whitaker makes his mark with this one, but Oprah may walk away with an Oscar nod. “A film with its heart very clearly in the right place,” says Antagony & Ecstasy. And Denver Post waxes that it’s “A history lesson in violence and endurance. A sentimental journey. A tribute. Director Daniels and the dedicated cast of The Butler deliver all that.”

As Shakespeare wrote, “These violent delights have violent ends/ And in their triumph die, like fire and powder/ Which, as they kiss, consume.” That’s this week’s movies.

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