Friday, June 6, 2014

Week of June 6 to June 12 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

A Half-Dozen Films Entertain at the Tropic Cinema

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications

Six movies playing at the Tropic Cinema -- four of them new to its screens, two popular holdovers. A great selection this week for moviegoers.

Leading the lineup is “The Immigrant,” director James Gray’s look back to the ’20s when immigrants were crowding onto Ellis Island, hoping to become part of the American dream. Here, Ewa (Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard) is the immigrant in question, falling prey to a pimp (Joaquin Phoenix), her only hope being a questionable stage magician (Jeremy Renner). NewCity says, “Memories upon memories upon memories upon legend upon lore upon sorrow upon sacrifice and ache: there is much of another time in James Gray’s great and tender and sublimely sincere, emblematically cinematic ‘The Immigrant.’” And Minneapolis Star Tribune proclaims it as “one of those rare, strikingly beautiful film experiences that transport you to another world.”

“The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden” takes us back to the ‘30s on the island of Floreana, where a series of disappearances shattered the primeval tranquility. This documentary (voiced by Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett and others) probes the mystifying crime. Rotten Tomatoes describes it as “Darwin meets Hitchcock in this true-crime tale of paradise found and lost.” And the Patriot-Ledger says, “It’s killer in every sense of the word.”

Also new is “Exposed,” a documentary that takes us behind the scenes of modern-day Burlesque, both funny and sexy and above all a new art form. Time Out New York tells us, “The performance footage is indeed eye-popping, though the greatest jolt comes from seeing these larger-than-life iconoclasts stripped of their makeup and armorlike personas.” And New York Times expounds, “While these lubricious entertainers are making political points by pulling American flags from unlikely locations, or dancing a beautiful dark ballet with a severed hand, they’re mostly just interested in showing us a really good time.”

A gentle curve ball from Disney titled “Million Dollar Arm” gives us Jon Hamm as a sports agent out to recruit an Indian cricket player to be a baseball pitcher. Laramie Movie Scope tells us “Although this film is based on a true story, it looks as if the facts were smashed to a paste which was then molded into the exact shape of a typical sports underdog story. It works.” And calls it “A Grand Slam.”

Still playing at the Tropic is “Belle,” a historical drama about Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race woman who was raised to be a British aristocrat, and perhaps influenced the abolition of slavery in England. Miami Herald calls it “an interesting history lesson.” And The Virginian-Pilot adds that it is “a wonderfully informative film while being entertaining at the same time.”

Last up is “Chef,” Jon Favreau’s return to his indie film roots with a story about a fancy L.A, chef who finds his salvation in a refurbished taco truck. Philadelphia Inquirer observes that “Jon Favreau’s bouncy paean to the culinary arts wins you over in a stridently upbeat, crowd-pleasing way...” And Quad City Times concludes that it’s “a fresh, character-driven comedy with a father-son relationship at the center. It’s a recipe for those who are weary of CGI battle scenes.”

Six films, a half-dozen winners!

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