Thursday, September 11, 2014

Week of September 12 - 18 (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

Six Films Take You on Cinematic Journeys at the Tropic

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

At the Tropic Cinema you’ll find four films good enough to be held over -- plus two interesting newcomers. This is the ebb and flow of movies in Key West.

New to the screens is “The Trip to Italy” with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. A sequel to their previous talkie travel buddy movie (“The Trip”) the boys are on the road again, this time dining and bickering their way through Italy. The New Yorker says, “This hedonistic japery is shot through with middle-aged melancholy and the fear of death.” And Detroit News concludes, “If it's your cup of tea, you're likely to spill it from laughing so hard. Somebody send these two on another holiday.”

Also new is the slam-blam new James Bond movie … well, not exactly. It’s Pierce Brosnan as a former CIA assassin known as “The November Man.” Plenty of action as Brosnan tackles his first spy movie since giving up the 007 role. Laramie Movie Scope tells us “The pace of the film is fast and it generates a lot of tension. The acting is solid, led by Brosnan, who handles this role with aplomb…” And Three Movie Buffs exclaims, “It's a thrill seeing Brosnan in action once again.”

Holding over is “Land Ho!” -- another talkie-travel movie, this time with two older guys (Paul Eenhoorn and Earl Lynn Nelson) going to Iceland. The babble of conversation and the stark beauty of the scenery will pull you along on their journey. Chicago Reader describes it as “engaging, low-key character study.” And Seattle Times adds “Eenhoorn brings an understated wry quality to his performance that nicely counterbalances Nelson's unflagging bonhomie.”

Another journey is … well, “The Hundred-Foot Journey/” that’s the distance between two restaurants, one a dignified French dining establishment overseen by Madam Mallory (Helen Mirren), the other a raucous Indian eatery that disturbs her sense of decorum. But romance is served up on two levels as a young Indian chef goes after Michelin star ratings. Richard Roeper calls it “Food porn with a sweet albeit predictable menu.” And Movie Talk elaborates, “Swedish director Lasse Hallström serves up the cinematic equivalent of comfort food, but if that is your fare of choice then this culinary culture-clash comedy will go down a treat.”

“Lucy” features Scarlett Johansson as the titular heroine, a young woman who gets exposed to a drug that activates unused portions of her brain, turning her into an all-powerful scourge against an army of Korean drug thugs. Morgan Freeman is on hand to explain it all like he does in those TV science programs. Los Angeles Times describes it as “Part philosophical/scientific treatise, part action movie…” And Village Voice notes that “Scarlett Johansson carries the film effortlessly.”

And last -- but not least, as they say -- is “The Last of Robin Hood.” This biopic tells of the last days of matinee idol Errol Flynn, star of the classic Robin Hood movie. Here Flynn (played by Kevin Kline)  falls for 15-year-old Beverly Aadland (Dakota Fanning) while urged on by her mother (Susan Sarandon). True story mostly. Suburban Journals of St. Louis observe, “While this movie is a fairly middling biopic, it is actually a much more fascinating look at the trappings of fame, show business and celebrity culture.” And Newcity concludes, “Kline plays Flynn as a concatenation of jitters, fearful not only of fading but of death; Fanning is steely yet bright-eyed, and Sarandon flutters meaningfully.”

There you have it holdovers and newbies -- a great week at the Tropic.

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