Friday, February 14, 2014

Week of February 14 to February 20 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

Four Screens Filled With Oscar Nominees at the Tropic Cinema

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Offering more Oscar-nominated films than you can count on two hands, Tropic Cinema is determined to prepare you for this year’s Academy Awards. And, as usual, that March 2nd event will rate a red-carpet celebration at the Tropic.

The three collections of films you’ll f’sure want to catch are the Oscar Nominated Shorts. Where else are you going to see them in advance of the Academy Awards ceremony? Here we have five short animated films (“Feral,” “Get a Horse!,” “Mr. Hublot,” “Possessions,” and “Room on the Broom”), five short documentaries (“CaveDigger,” “Facing Fear,” “Karama Has No Walls,” “The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life,” and “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall”), and five short live action films (“That Wasn’t Me,” “Just Before Losing Everything,” “Helium,” “The Voorman Problem,” and “Do I Have to Take Care of Everything”). The New York Times proclaims these shorts “especially outstanding.”

Returning to the Tropic following its advance showing as part of the New York Film Critics series is David O. Russell’s “American Hustle.” Based on the infamous ABSCAM sting, this dark comedy stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner. An odds-on favorite, it’s up for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Production Design. Quad City Times calls it “smart, sophisticated and slick.”

“August: Osage County” continues its familial battles with Meryl Streep as the acerbic mother and Julia Roberts as her embittered eldest daughter. Both nominated for Academy Awards, the two great actresses are pitted against each other like a later-day clash between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. Media Mike calls it “a two hour showcase of talent.” And ReelViews says it’s “all about the acting.

Disney’s “Frozen,” is the animated retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen.” Starring the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, and Jonathan Groff, the fairy tale’s up for Best Animated Feature and Best Song (“Let It Go”). Baret News describes the film as “a touching tale of sisterhood.” Rolling Stone says it takes the lead in the Oscar race “by default.”

And you better put on your reading glasses for “The Great Beauty” (“La grande bellezza”), the subtitled contender for Best Foreign Language Film. This Italian masterpiece will remind you of a less ferial “La Dolce Vita” as an aging socialite (magnificently portrayed by Toni Servillo) looks back on his wasted life. Globe and Mail sees it as “an utterly ravishing portrait of listless luxuriance, a fantasy of decadent wealth and beauty.”

And “Labor Day” lingers at the Tropic like a summer memory, with Josh Brolin as an escaped convict who steals the hearts of his captives (Kate Winslet and Gatlin Griffith). Great chemistry between the stars overcomes any threats of sentimentality or mawkishness. Christian Science Monitor dubs it “Engagingly sappy.” And Total Film declares it as “first-rate work from Winslet and Brolin.”

The 86th Academy Awards is fast upon us. You’ll want to catch these films while you can.

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