Thursday, September 25, 2014

Week of Sept. 26 - Oct. 2 (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

Engage Your Emotions and Intellect at the Tropic Cinema

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Want to see a good movie? Well, you can still catch "The Drop" and "Love Is Strange" at the Tropic Cinema, and it’s adding "My Old Lady" and "The Skeleton Twins" -- a crime drama, a gay marriage, a quirky old woman, and strange siblings.

"The Drop" stars Tom Hardy as a Brooklyn bartender who keeps his nose clean, until finding a battered pit bull pup in a trash barrel sets events in motion that violently changes things. A robbery, an old murder, the Chechen mob, and James Gandolfini (in his last role) figure into the neo noir film based on a Dennis Lehane short story ("Animal Rescue"). Chicago Reader observes, "Lehane’s climactic plot twist is all the more laudable because it springs directly from complexity of character; you realize the truth has been obscured not through a writer’s trickery but through your own simple reading of the action." And’s Andrew O’Hehir calls it "a masterful construction that held me rapt from first shot to last…"

That not-so-odd-couple Ben and George (John Lithgow and Alfred Molina) get married, then things go wrong in "Love Is Strange." So much for marriage equality laws when George gets fired and the two are forced to live apart. Love in modern times, we discover. Toronto Star describes it as "An unforgettable portrait, set to a dazzling soundtrack of Chopin piano pieces, of the sense of loss we all feel when we are obliged to move into unfamiliar and uncomfortable surroundings." And Charlotte Observer adds, "By the end, when love is in the air again, we realize the title is meant ironically. Love isn’t strange, after all."

Maggie Smith and Kevin Kline are at odds in "My Old Lady," the dramedy about a New Yorker who inherits a Parisian apartment that comes with an unwanted tenant. Toss in Kristin Scott Thomas as the old woman’s daughter and you complete the unlikely trio. Newsday says, "What starts as an elaborate sitcom becomes an emotionally substantial tragicomedy." And Philadelphia Daily News tells us, "Just when you’ve recalibrated your emotional receptors ... the movie shifts back again to whimsy…"

And in "The Skeleton Twin" you have former Saturday Night Live cast members Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader playing it straight as brother and sister who cheat death on the same day and pause to commiserate on what went wrong in their lives. Grouch Reviews says, "Wiig and Hader’s shared history beautifully informs their entirely credible screen relationship, which can be as testy as it is loving, as distressingly haunted as it is funny..." Popmasters observes, "This is one of the best films about the lingering effects of dysfunction that’s been made." And Common Sense Media calls it an "irreverent, mature, deeply affecting drama about siblings."
There you have it, four films guaranteed to engage your emotions and intellect … a typical week at the Tropic.

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