Saturday, April 5, 2014

Week of April 4 to April 10 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

Comedy, Drama, Romance, Documentary, War --
Tropic Cinema Covers the Film Genres

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications

Jason Bateman is known for his dry comedic delivery. He often plays a put-upon everyman or the straight man in a comedy duo. In his recent movie “Identity Theft” he was both. However, in “Bad Words” -- Bateman’s new film that’s now showing at the Tropic Cinema -- he is neither. Perhaps that shift is because he got to direct himself in “Bad Words,” his first time actually helming a movie.

Yes, “Bad Words” is funny, the story of an irascible guy who finds a loophole that allows him to compete with the kids in a national spelling bee. Here he’s not exactly an everyman, nor a straight man, for he leads the film with laughs. New England Movies Weekly declares, “If you take this as, in a sense, a dirty fairy tale, it is absolutely hilarious.” And Detroit News adds, “This is twisted, funny stuff.”

Everybody’s bad-boy director, Lars von Trier (remember when he got into trouble for praising Hitler?) is back with another edgy film, “Nymphomaniac: Vol. I.” Starring some of his favorite actors (Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd), this is a racy story recounted by a self-declared loose woman to a man who rescued her from a dangerous situation. And as the title implies, there is a Vol. II to follow. Minneapolis Star Tribune observes, “Master of controversy Lars von Trier has baited his hook with the promise of lewd spectacle, but he reels us in for a philosophical sermon.” Paste Magazine calls it “a rigorous, riveting and surprisingly funny cogitation on sexual liberation, gender double standards, love, sociopathy and any number of the filmmaker's other obsessions.”

“Le Week-End” holds over, the tale of a British couple (Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan) who return to Paris for their 30th Anniversary. But the marriage has worn thin after three decades of bickering and bitterness. Washington Post describes it as “an alternately prickly and knowing tone poem to desire and disappointment whose light touch belies far deeper, darker human understandings.” And Chicago Sun-Times sees it as “a nuanced romance for grown-ups.”

“Tim’s Vermeer” continues its run, a document about Tim Jenison, a computer geek who tries to replicate the painting techniques of the Dutch master. This interesting exercise was produced by magicians Penn and Teller. Seattle Times tells us it “is about many things - art history, technology, painting technique, beauty - but ultimately it's a beguiling study of fascination.” And Philadelphia Inquirer calls it “film as forensics, bringing math and science to bear to solve an art-world mystery.” And Arizona Republic brands it “a movie for people who like to think, who like to ponder the big questions surrounding art and the act of creation.”

Still telling an important story about a team of soldier assigned to rescue stolen art from the Nazis, “The Monuments Men” stars George Clooney and a handful of his pals. A tad preachy at times, it recounts an important cultural mission we didn’t read much about in the history books. Urban Cinefile says, “It's a story with scale, texture and layers and whatever it lacks in grit and tension (required for a story based on fact) is compensated by chutzpah.” And QuickFlix concludes, “One day we'll discover George Clooney is actually a long-forgotten screen idol from Hollywood's golden age who became unstuck from time, and all of this will make total sense.”

Bateman to Clooney, Lars von Trier to Penn and Teller -- gotta admit the Tropic offers us variety.

No comments: