Thursday, January 29, 2015

Week of January 30 to February 5 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

Tropic Cinema Gets Literary With Its Lineup

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications

See the movie, read the book. That’s what I plan to do, since I’ve never read much by Thomas Pynchon. That’s also good advice with other book-based movies playing this week at the Tropic Cinema.

“Inherent Vice,” the new film opening at the Tropic, is adapted from Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 novel of the same name about an inept stoner detective. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, the story is as crazy and complex as he is. Trying to find a missing millionaire at the request of his old girlfriend, he encounters a plethora of loony characters. What’s more, this film got an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. The Guardian calls it “a delirious triumph: a stylish-squared meeting of creative minds, a swirl of hypnosis and symbiosis, with Pynchon's prose partly assigned to a narrating character and partly diversified into funky dialogue exchanges.” And The List describes it as “an anti-thriller, a loose, lunatic, sun-scorched noir that just keeps piling on the madness.”

Another form of literature is the fairytale. And with Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Into the Woods,” you get several storybooks worth -- Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, even Jack and the Beanstalk. As a bonus there’s Meryl Streep headlining as a witch trying to regain her beauty. 3AW says, “Disney's enthralling, enormously entertaining film version of Stephen Sondheim’s 1987 Broadway musical comedy is such a joy it makes you wonder what took them so long...” And Sky Movies observes, “It’s dark and it’s funny and it’s genuinely heartbreaking -- in a world where no one believes in happy ever after, this is the fairytale we need.”

“The Imitation Game” is based on a book titled “Alan Turing: The Enigma,” a biography about the British mathematician who helped crack the Nazi’s encryption code by inventing the computer (kinda). Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, you’re in for a great performance. It also got an Oscar nod for Best Adapted Screenplay. notes that this is “enthralling history unveiled in this well-acted film.” And Monsters and Critics sees it as “a rich performance with the pathos and drama of a new age of technology set within the hardships of war.”

“Foxcather” is not based on a book, but its writers E. Max Frye and Dab Futterman have been nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. This is the bleak story about millionaire John du Pont murdering an Olympic wrestler. Steve Carell steps away from his usual comedy to show he’s also a magnificent dramatic actor. Orlando Weekly calls it “a powerfully gripping layer cake that explores the victims left to wither and die under the malignant, patriotic super-rich,” while The Popcorn Junkie sees it as “a conduit to examine the hubris of America, and the fallout of never living up to the potential of a greatness that may have never existed.”

Also we have “Selma,” the much-talked-about film depicting Martin Luther King, Jr.’s civil rights marches in hostile Alabama. David Oyelowo brilliantly captures the oratory powers of Dr. King in this powerful drama. John Hanlon Reviews says, “A cinematic masterpiece, this feature may be small in scope but it’s momentous in its ability to capture how complex and powerful the civil rights movement was.” And Us Weekly concludes, “Needless to say, Dr. King’s message has never been more relevant.”

I’ve heard people say movies are not as good as the books. That’s not always true.

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