Tropic Cinema Offers a Dark and Funny Brew
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications
With three powerful new films, and one strong holdover, Tropic Cinema gets serious -- in the tone of its new films.
"Rosewater" is political satirist Jon Stewart’s directorial debut, and no, it’s not a comedy. Instead he gives us the true story of Maziar Bahari, an Iranian-Canadian journalist who was held for 118 days in Tehran. Kaplan vs. Kaplan calls it "a compelling film that reveals much about the Iranian ideology, and the paranoia of its leaders." Schmoes Knows says it’s "an incredible experience." And Flick Fhilosopher adds, "Jon Stewart's first film is passionate and principled, as I expected, but also hopeful, almost serene, and even gently amusing, which I did not."
"Whiplash" is the dramatic story of a jazz drummer (Miles Teller) who falls under the tutelage of an old master (J.K. Simmons) at a prestigious music school. Newsday describes it as "primarily two actors and a jazz score, but the result is a crackling good drama that feels almost like a thriller." And Tampa Bay Times calls it a "musical drama with a Hitchcock heart, a minor-key thriller set to a double time swing beat."
"Birdman" is a comedy, but a decidedly black one. A washed-up movie star (Michael Keaton) tries to revive his career by putting on a Broadway play. The pressure mounts and reality fades. The Miami Herald observes, "’Birdman’ takes advantage of every facet of Keaton's talent, from his knack for absurdist comedy to his seemingly effortless ability to tap into graceful profundity without making a big show of it." And the Toledo Blade says, "Regardless of his connection to the role, Keaton is transformative and mesmerizing, altering in moments almost every audience preconception."
Holding over is another dark comedy, "St. Vincent." An old curmudgeon (Bill Murray) takes on a babysitting job, dragging his young ward to inappropriate places such as the horse track and bars. He’s mean, but lovable (sort of). Ozus' World Movie Reviews notes "Bill Murray plays the grouchy old man as well as anybody in Hollywood." San Francisco Chronicle grouses, "One of these days, someone should make a movie about a really nasty old guy who, by the end of the story, is still a nasty old guy." And amNewYork concludes, "It's a chance for Murray to act the hell out of a juicy part."
Dark and funny -- a strong brew at the Tropic.