Thursday, December 25, 2014

Week of Dec. 25 to Jan. 1 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

Tropic Cinema Defies North Korea

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications

This week Tropic Cinema opened “The Interview,” the comedy that got Sony Pictures hacked and threatened by North Korea. Seems Kim Jong-un, that country’s Supreme Leader, can’t take a joke.

Plus two other great films join the schedule along with two holdovers.

“The Interview” is a silly movie about Seth Rogan and James Franco attempting to assassinate the North Korean dictator as a favor to the CIA. Philadelphia Inquirer says, “The film is not a dangerous weapon, or a tool for anti-Korean propaganda. It does kill, but with comedy.” And the San Francisco Chronicle describes the film: “Imagine ‘Harold and Kumar Go to North Korea,’ or ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent North Korean Adventure’ or even ‘The Road to Pyongyang’ starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. You get the idea.”

One of the best films of the year, “The Imitation Game” opened also. Benedict Cumberbatch portrays Alan Turing, the British mathematician who cracked the Nazi’s Enigma encryption machine by inventing the computer. But it has a tragic ending. Hey, no spoiler alert needed because this is based on history. Dallas Morning News says, “It would be hard to foul up the story of Alan Turing, and thankfully ‘The Imitation Game’ doesn’t.” And St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes, “Cumberbatch is moviedom’s man of the moment, and with this painfully human performance, the actor who has specialized in difficult geniuses finally cracks the code of compassion.”

Also opening is “Big Eyes,” the Tim Burton film about the guy who painted those distinctive big-eyed Keane pictures. Wait, we mean the woman who ... Turns out, that was the problem, both husband and wife (played Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams on screen) taking credit for the popular artwork. Beliefnet calls it, “A very good film about very bad art.” And Film Racket observes, “Burton pulls back on his traditional Goth goofiness to give these characters and their story the respect they deserve.”

Holding over is “Wild,” the outdoorsy drama with Reese Witherspoon as a woman hiking the length of the Pacific Coast. Her life falling apart, this is a way of coming to terms with herself. Minneapolis Star Tribune says, “What do you do when your heroine is tough but emotionally hurt, bright but glib, grown but immature? Make a film about her that is both painful and uplifting.” And Tucson Weekly proclaims, “I hope this the start of a long, good run of quality films for Witherspoon.”

And still with us is “The Theory of Everything,” a love story based on the courtship of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and his first wife Jane. 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.” And Miami Herald says, “Redmayne makes you forget you’re watching an actor put himself through punishing contortions. He keeps you focused on the soul of a man trapped inside a malfunctioning body.”

Talk about must-see films -- they’re at the Tropic.

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