Thursday, April 24, 2014

Week of April 25 to May 1 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

A Quartet of Fascinating Films at Tropic Cinema

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications

Bigger than life, brazen, brawling, a drunken ex-con -- that’s Dom Hemingway, the character portrayed by Jude Law in the same-named film “Don Hemingway.” A safecracker out to even the score for the 12 years he spent in prison, he’s violent, profile, and self-destructive. Why should we care about such a disreputable character? As Detroit News explains, “You don’t so much care where Dom is going as how he's getting there, and he’s getting there loud.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch calls it “a noirish light show with a cockeyed rhythm.” And the Seattle Times opines that the film “has two terrific things going for it: snappy dialogue … and Law, who’s both funny and scary in equal measures.”

Next up: Vivian Maier was a Chicago street photographer whose cityscapes are finding acclaim after her death in 2009. This documentary titled “Finding Vivian Maier” by historian John Maloop brings these images to an appreciative audience while recounting how her work was discovered. Boston Herald describes it as “a penetrating exploration of the link between art and obsession and a major discovery of a 20th-century master.” And Minneapolis Star Tribune says, “This may be the most pleasurable 83 minutes you will spend in a theater this year.”

“The Lunchbox” continues to serve up a tender rom-com that takes place in steamy Mumbai, India. A lunch pail mistakenly delivered by the dabbawalas courier system sets off an exchange of love letters. Newsday calls it “warm, and warmly predictable,” while HeyUGuys terms it “a moving piece of cinema.” And Times-Picayune adds, “This is a charming crowd-pleaser that is made with love -- just like the food in the titular lunchbox.”

IMO, the jewel among these films is Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” a stylistic fable about a hotel concierge (Ralph Fiennes), his lobby boy (Tony Revolori), a dead dowager (Tilda Swinton), her greedy son (Adrien Brody), and the gun-happy Zubrowka police (led by Edward Norton). The Miami Herald says, “The movie is a flume ride through the imagination of one of the most creative minds making movies today, and the pleasure curls your toes.” And Detroit News tells us it’s “an old-fashioned screwball comedy garishly dressed.” And Cinema Signals chimes in, “Any single frame qualifies for wall space in a cinematic museum as the players ingeniously apply their emotive elasticity to fit the Anderson universe.”

And if four winning films were not enough, Tuesday night is the New York Film Critics advance showing of “Locke,” the story of a construction worker (Tom Hardy) whose life is crumbling before our eyes on a nighttime drive to London. Entertainment Weekly notes, “I can't think of anyone I'd rather see white-knuckled behind the wheel than Hardy, who with his bravura performance here has turned me into a true believer.” And concludes, “Tom Hardy owns this taut, telling character study.”

Guess we better change that headline to “A Quintet of Fascinating Films.”

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