Thursday, January 8, 2015

Week of January 9 to January 15 (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

Tropic Focus On True Stories With This Week’s Selections

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications

This week Tropic Cinema has narrowed its focus down to a handful of must-see films. All of them are based on true stories.

New to Tropic screens is “Selma,” the much-talked about depiction of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery. Drawing fire is how King’s relationship with President Lyndon Johnson is depicted. But whatever your opinion, you cannot turn your eyes away from David Oyelowo’s powerful performance as Dr. King. Seattle Times says, “History becomes breathtaking drama in ‘Selma’; there’s an urgent realism in the storytelling, as if we’re seeing this just in time. And indeed we are ...” Star Democrat offers, “Though these events occurred half a century ago, their power and relevance are undiminished.” And RedEye calls it, “A film of great power and integrity, fiercely attentive to the tipping point of progress and the difficult decisions that push it forward.”

Another powerful performance comes with “The Imitation Game,” the story of how British mathematician Alan Turing built a machine – the first computer, it turns out – to break the Nazi’s Enigma code. Benedict Cumberbatch will amaze you with his tour de force portrayal of a man with secrets. The Daily Mail says, “Cumberbatch’s sensitive, moving performance is the film's beating heart, and the best reason to see it.” The Standard opines, “impressive, particularly due to Cumberbatch…” And Monsters and Critics describes it as “a rich performance with the pathos and drama of a new age of technology set within the hardships of war.”

Another thought-provoking film is “Wild,” Reese Witherspoon’s proof that she’s more than another legally blonde actress. Here she plays Cheryl Strayed, a woman who decides to walk the 1000-mile Pacific Crest Trail as a way of exorcising her personal demons. HitFix says, “Witherspoon does really uncompromising work here, playing Cheryl without any hesitancy or any fear or any ego.” And Minneapolis star Tribune sums it up, “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.”

Finally we have “Big Eyes,” director Tim Burton’s wonky tale about Walter and Margaret Keane, the painters behind those big-eyed waif-like paintings of the ‘60s. Christoph Waltz is the overhyping hubby and Amy Adams is the underrated talent in this satiric true story. Austin Chronicle says, “Waltz may play Walter as a mincing gadabout and Lothario whose real talent lies in self-promotion, but it’s Adams’ Margaret and her dawning realization of her own inner strength that holds the film aloft.” Charlotte Observer notes, “Burton has always paid tribute to artistic misfits in his movies, from self-deluded film auteur Ed Wood to blade-fingered sculptor Edward Scissorhands. But I don’t think he’s made a film with such contempt for everyone in it, except the main character.” And Times UK concludes, “It’s not the kind of performance that screams for attention. No showboating physical transformation or wrenching psychological endurance test. She barely even raises her voice. But as the artist Margaret Keane, Amy Adams is quietly extraordinary.”

“Breathtaking.” “Impressive.” “Uncompromising.” “Extraordinary.” Yes, all four of these films should be on your moviegoing list this week.

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