Thursday, May 8, 2014

Week of May 9 to May 15 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

Woody to Wes, Nic to Anita -- Tropic Cinema Introduces Great Characters

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications

The Tropic continues to be the theater of choice for Woody Allen movies … even when they’re not by Woodie Allen.

“Fading Gigolo” is actually a comedy by actor-writer-director John Turturro even though it seems a lot like a Woody Allen movie. Perhaps that’s because it co-stars Woody Allen. This is the whimsical story of a man (Turturro) who becomes a male prostitute to earn money to help his needy friend (Allen).

Arizona Republic agrees that it’s “a slight, minor comedy that feels like something Woody Allen might have come up with on a lazy afternoon.” And ReelView calls it “a slight movie but enjoyable nevertheless….”

For those of you who saw Lars von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac: Vol. I,” here is more of the same with “Nymphomaniac: Vol. II.” It’s the conclusion of his tale about Joe (played by both Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stacy Martin), a woman addicted to sex. Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd serves as her “father confessor” in this graphic chronicle.

Detroit News notes, “It’s funny, it’s lewd, it’s disturbing, it’s odd, it’s extremely graphic, it’s brutal. And if you can handle all that, it’s pretty good.” And Entertainment Weekly tells us Volume II is “a notch more watchable than Volume I.”

Also we have “Anita,” a documentary by filmmaker Freida Mock profiling Anita Hill, the woman who dared to speak out about now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Film Journal International observes “Hill’s enduring strength and character is the emotional center, but the scandal's residual trashiness, enduring mystery and elusive justice up the entertainment quotient.” And calls it “a serviceable, at times riveting documentary.”

For nature lovers, the Disney film “Bears” is still showing. You get to amble along with a mother grizzly and her two cubs in the Alaskan wilderness. As you can expect, the cinematography is spectacular. New York Times adds, “Despite the bracing beauty of the wilderness, and the respite provided by cubs at play, the movie is primarily a sobering treatise on survival.” And L.A. Biz sees it as “awesome in the classic sense of the word.”

You still have a last chance to see “Joe,” the new drama starring Nicolas Cage in the title role. Here, in one of his better acting roles, he’s an ex-con trying to help a boy (Tye Sheridan) being abused by his alcoholic lowlife dad. Movie Habit says, “Finally, a worthy Nicolas Cage performance.” And NPR adds, “For Nicolas Cage, whose dumb, rant-for-hire projects have lately been making audiences forget how good he can be, ‘Joe’ is more than a rescue - it’s a re-birth.”

And don’t miss “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” the new Wes Anderson fantasy about the concierge of a grand hotel (Ralph Fiennes) accused of murdering his elderly paramour (Tilda Swinton). Like all Anderson films you’ll either love it or hate it … no middle ground. Me, I plan to go see it again!

St. Louis Post-Dispatch says, “After feeding on this sweet buffet, sated cinephiles will want to call the front desk to extend their stay.” And The Standard proclaims, “An argument could be made that this is Wes Anderson’s best film.”

Great characters all. And they’re visiting this week at the Tropic Cinema.

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