Saturday, March 22, 2014

Week of March 21 to March 27 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

From Docs To Adultery, War Epic To Animation,
Take Your Pick At The Tropic.

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications

This week at the Tropic Cinema you will find some great new documentaries. Just for starters.

Up front is “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me,” a look at the 89-year-old Broadway star who was still belting out show tunes when this documentary was made by Key West visitor Chiemi Karasawa. We watch the brassy old singer rehearse for a Sondheim cabaret performance while reminiscing about her 70-year show biz career. Chicago Sun-Times declares it “a must-see for anyone who loves theater.” And says, “Stritch’s life seems tailor-made for a documentary.”

Another top-notch doc is “Tim’s Vermeer,” the story about Tim Jenison, a computer geek who decides to “paint a Vermeer.” His research into the technique of the Dutch Master will astound you and you’ll learn a lot about art history along the way. Madison Movie calls it “a sophisticated treatise on the intersection between creativity and technology,” while Detroit News describes it as “unexpectedly dazzling.”

Not to be missed is “Gideon’s Army,” the latest in the “4 Nights 4 Justice” series. But hurry … this documentary about young public defenders is a one-night-only showing. Hollywood Reporter says it offers “compelling insight into the staggering pressures faced by court-appointed public defenders.” And New York Daily News warns, “It makes us think about something we'd rather not.”

Also one-night-only is the latest entry in the NY Film Critic series, “Breathe In.” Here, a middle-age family man (Guy Pierce) is tempted by a young UK exchange student (Felicity Jones). Movie Talk offers this insight: “Older man, younger woman? This could easily be clich├ęd or icky, or worse. Fortunately, Doremus handles the pair’s relationship with restraint and his leads, improvising their dialogue, deliver terrific performances.”

Another illicit romance is found with “In Secret,” where a Parisian woman (Elizabeth Olsen) is trapped in a loveless marriage with her sickly cousin, but faces tragic consequences after entering into an affair with her husband’s friend (Oscar Isaac). NYC Movie Guru terms it “spellbinding, intelligent and suspenseful.” And ReelViews sees it as “an effective period piece thriller that incorporates love, lust, desperation, and madness into a stew thickened by a gothic atmosphere.”

In case you haven’t seen it yet, “The Monuments Men” is holding over. This is George Clooney’s film about US soldiers assigned to rescue stolen artwork from the Nazis. Denver Post says, “Think of them as Inglorious Art Historians.” And 3AW observes, “It’s sort of like Ocean’s Eleven Go to War.”

And for the kids there’s “The Lego Movie,” an animated film based on those same-named toys. Who would have thought they could make a movie about plastic building blocks? However, Quad City Times tells us it’s “smart and hilarious, with writing as brilliant as the colors of Lego blocks.” And Independent adds, “Adults who go to The Lego Movie out of a weary sense of parental duty are in for a very pleasant surprise.”

We like surprises. Especially at the movies.

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