Tropic Cinema Offers a Spectrum of New Films
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
From a colorful rom-com to a stark black-and-white drama, that’s the range of movies at the Tropic Cinema this week.
“Words and Pictures” stars Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche in a delightful battle of the sexes … and a confrontation between (as the title tells us) words and pictures. He teaches writing, she’s an art instructor. Can these two lonely people connect? BeliefNet calls it “a witty, grown-up love story.” And Leonard Maltin reminds us of “the considerable appeal of its stars and the touch of its director, Fred Schepisi, who maintains a light hand throughout.”
“Ida” is a Polish drama that looks like an album of family photographs -- a paced, thoughtful exploration of who we really are. Here, a novice nun learns that she’s not really Anna, but rather a girl named Ida whose Jewish parents were executed by the Nazis. This sets Anna/Ida (played by newcomer Agata Trzebuchowska) off on a road trip with her acerbic aunt to discover her lost heritage. Minneapolis Star Tribune sees it as “a story of faith and identity, an exquisite, austere drama in a plaintive minor key.” The Jewish Advocate notes the “finely etched character studies of two women, trying to make sense of a discovered or rediscovered Jewish past,” And Philadelphia Inquirer terms it “a masterpiece.”
Still packing them in at the Tropic is “Chef,” Jon Favreau’s homage to food … and hubris. A fancy L.A. chef (Favreau) is fired for insulting a famed food critic, but finds redemption in a battered taco truck. Toronto Star observes, “Favreau has assembled a terrific cast for a road trip that is joyous and revelatory, all set to a great soundtrack ...” And St. Louis Post-Dispatch adds, “Best of all is Favreau. Instead of mass-producing another superhero epic, he has given the overfed public a dish of right-sized comfort food.”
If you’re looking for laughs, try “Neighbors,” a rude, crude, make-you-guffaw frat-boy comedy. Newlyweds (Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne) are pitted against the fraternity house next door and their BMOC nemesis (Zac Efron). MediaMike says it “tries to be a cross between ‘Animal House’ and ‘Old School,’ while Film Threat sees it as a funny “leave-your-brain-at-home flick.”
And still wreaking havoc is “Godzilla 3D,” that gigantic Japanese reptile that doesn’t seem deterred by atomic bombs or competing monsters. Brian Cranston and Juliette Binoche make brief appearances as scientists trying to figure out the apocalyptic results of science gone wild. Cinema Sight describes it as “More disaster movie than monster movie, "Godzilla" is a thrilling film with a faint examination of imperialistic hubris.” And Slate says, “It's a smooth, sleek, technologically awe-inspiring 3-D blockbuster with a top-shelf cast…”
Yes, it’s a good week at the Tropic.