Thursday, July 31, 2014

Week of August 1 to August 7 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

Tropic Cinema Gives You Mystery, Love, Music, and Magic

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications

Headlining this week at the Tropic is “A Most Wanted Man,” a John Le Carre spy story starring Philip Seymour Hoffman in his last film role. Set in Hamburg, a spymaster has 72 hours to recruit an agent before his own colleagues kill him. Dark and murky and complex are the hallmarks of Le Carre, who was once a real-life British intelligence agent. Metro Times says “A fitting showcase for Philip Seymour Hoffman's tousled talents ... and a sad epitaph of a title for one of Hollywood's most talented character actors.” And NYC Movie Guru calls it “an intelligent slow-burn thriller.”

“Bicycling With Moliere” gives us a popular actor (Lambert Wilson) trying to recruit a retired thespian (Fabrice Luchini) to co-star in Moliere’s “The Misanthrope,” but the cranky old boy has become a recluse himself, preferring to cycle around Île de Ré, rather than again facing an audience. LA Times tells us “It deals lightly with topics like ego, friendship, rivalry and love, and it does so within the context of an exploration of the personal and professional lives of a pair of actors.” And Washington Post says it “gives some insight into the way art imitates life, and also the way life informs art.”

Hard to believe, but it’s the 50th Anniversary of “When Harry Met Sally,” that classic boy-meets-girl romantic comedy by director Rob Reiner. His latest film, “And So It Goes,” is also a rom-com, but rather than a youthful Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan combo, here we have an elderly Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton. He’s a cranky realtor, she’s a weepy widow -- but together they find a middle ground that will resonate with Baby Boomers. Richard Roeper calls it “the cinematic equivalent of comfort food.” And summarizes it as “Curmudgeon Finds Humanity.”

Baby Boomers will also enjoy “Jersey Boys,” Clint Eastwood’s paean to the doo-wop music of the ‘60s. This musical biopic of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons will have you tapping your toes as you follow the up-and-down career of the boys from New Jersey. Crikey says “when Jersey Boys hits its stride it reveals a lightness of touch uncharacteristic of Eastwood's oeuvre.” And Total Film calls it “a solid watch that seeks to deepen the emotion of the jukebox musical.”

Thirtysomethings will go for “Begin Again,” a musical rom-com about a British songwriter (Keira Knightley) who gets discovered by a down-and-out music producer (Mark Ruffalo) after her hunky boyfriend (Adam Levine) dumps her for a singing career. says, “The wholesome, hopeful, let's-put-on-a-show enthusiasm may sound hokey but it's actually infectiously joyful.” And Quad City Times tells us it’s “an exquisite film by John Carney, who wrought the equally superb 'Once.'”

“Tammy” is a mother-and-daughter road trip with the magical combination of Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon. Star-Democrat notes that this film is “more character-based than the typical summer comedy.” And the Virginian-Pilot adds that it “forgoes cheap laughs in favor of heart.”

Real magic is the backdrop for “Maleficent,” the Snow White fairy tale as seen from the viewpoint of the wicked enchantress (Angelina Jolie). says it “remains surprisingly faithful to the original while recreating the title character...” And observes: “Disney's #1 villain...they've turned her into a glorified nanny and a prankster.”

Seven diverse movies playing at the Tropic. As they say, “variety is the spice of life” … and movies!

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