Thursday, May 1, 2014

Week of May 2 to May 8 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

From Bears to Baddies, Tropic Cinema Screens Some Terrific New Indies

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications

Nobody documents nature better than DisneyNature. This independent label was founded by The Walt Disney Studios in 2008. Since then it has given us intimate glimpses of African cats, flamingoes, chimpanzees, oceans, even the earth itself. Now we get an up-close look at bears. Narrated by John C. Riley, “Bears” follows a family of grizzlies living in the coastal region of Alaska. The film follows a mother and her two cubs for a year as they roam this great northern wilderness. Atlantic City Weekly says, “Nature movie fans will enjoy seeing the incredible cinematography of these magnificent creatures in the wild.” And Globe and Mail notes, “All this is heartwarming, in a bloody, ursine-centric way.”

“Joe” is the story of an ex-con (Nicolas Cage) looking to redeem himself. That opportunity comes when he befriends a youngster (Tye Sheridan) who is being abused by his not-so-likable lowlife dad (Gary Poulter). But is Joe willing to pay the price? Rolling Stone observes, “The film belongs to Cage. You can feel his compassion as Joe defies the reduced options of his life. There’s not an unfelt moment in Cage’s performance. Or in the movie.” Cinemalogue calls it “... a dynamic examination of masculinity and redemption about complex characters whose macho posturing masks an inner vulnerability.” And Shared Darkness sees it as “a tender, lyrical slice of underclass drama.”

“The Lunchbox” looks at the dabbawalas system of delivering lunchboxes in Mumbai. In this Indian indie, a mixed-up delivery put a lonely accountant (Irrfan Khan) and a sad housewife (Nimrat Kaur) into an epistolary letter-swapping romance. Minneapolis Star Tribune calls it “a feast of delights, one of the best stories about the connection between food and love the movies have ever seen. And Time Out agrees that “it's carried off with charm and wit.”

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” offers dozen of stars (mostly unrecognizable in their stage makeup), but the name on the marquee is director Wes Anderson. Here, Ralph Fiennes plays the amorous concierge of a fading grand hotel who is unjustly accused of murder. This stylistic comedy is among Anderson’s best -- even counting “The Royal Tanenbaums” and “Moonrise Kingdom.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch tells us, “After feeding on this sweet buffet, sated cinephiles will want to call the front desk to extend their stay.” And Concrete Playground calls it “eloquent, offbeat and charming.”

“Dom Hemingway” gives Jude Law the chance to play an unlikeable baddie, a drunken, brawling ex-con out to collect for keeping his mouth shut in prison. Forget about the money, can he reestablish a relationship with his grown daughter? Miami Herald says the film is “often viciously funny, and every time you think the movie has run out of steam, it spins things in a new direction.” And Fresno Bee concludes, “The brutal emotions of the script mixed with the untethered performances make it the kind of movie that viewers will either deeply hate or passionately love.”

You will want to see them all of these -- bears to baddies.

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