Thursday, December 4, 2014

Week of Dec. 5 - 11 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

Tropic Takes a Look at Interesting Characters

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications

This week at the Tropic Cinema the focus is on interesting characters – real, almost real, and fictional.

One of the real ones is NSA leaker Edward Snowden, also known by the cryptogram Citizenfour. Thus "Citizenfour" is the title of this important documentary by Laura Poitras, the filmmaker who flew to Hong Kong to interview him face-to-face. Commercial Appeal says, "Whether you consider Snowden a traitor or hero or something in between, the movie is striking in its immediacy and access and terrifying in its implications." Miami Herald adds that the film "plays like a thriller as it chronicles a complex and vitally important chapter in our history." And Minneapolis Star Tribune opines, "This documentary offers plenty of fuel for a long, ongoing debate."

Although not a documentary, another real subject is theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, portrayed by Eddie Redmayne in "The Theory of Everything." Here we learn what he was like at Cambridge before he developed ALS, back when he was courting his first wife. St. Louis Post-Dispatch calls it "a brainy bio that exerts a gravitational pull on the heartstrings." And Creative Loafing says, "Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones are perfect as Stephen and Jane, providing the humor, strength and emotion required in any marriage, whether it's a real one or a reel one."

"Birdman" is almost real, in that Michael Keaton plays a character very much like himself, the former star of a superhero movie franchise who dropped out to do less memorable roles, and now wants to redeem his career. Film Threat says, "I can’t think of a movie with as much to say about the warped symbiosis between show business and society…" And amNewYork observes "Keaton has tapped into something truly special and deeply personal here and emerged at the helm of a movie that’s a hall of mirrors that reveals a lot about us all."

In "St. Vincent" Bill Murray plays a grumpy old man that only he could play so well, a guy tasked with babysitting the kid next door at near disastrous results. Globe and Mail notes, "‘St. Vincent’ is no conventional hagiography but it’s the movie world’s equivalent -- a star vehicle." And Three Movie Buffs call it "a showcase for Bill Murray."

New to screens is "Force Majeure," a surprisingly funny story about a Swedish family trapped in an avalanche. Chicago Tribune calls it "both funny and sad, often in the same glance-averted instant." Ozus’ World Movie Reviews sees it as a "witty satire on masculinity and morality." And Laramie Movie Scope describes it as "an emotionally powerful film about the struggles of people to deal with the restrictions and limitations of traditional male and female roles in modern marriage."

There you have it, five great character studies in five must-see movies … all playing out their stories at the Tropic.



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