Thursday, February 12, 2015

Week of February 13 to February 19 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

Tropic Cinema Crowds in Oscar Nominees

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications

Fifteen films crowd the four screens at the Tropic Cinema this week. Of course, I’m counting the ten Oscar shorts that are being previewed before the big Academy Award event on February 22. And five other award-worthy feature films.
New this week is "Still Alice," with its star Julianne Moore up for an Academy Award as Best Actress. Here is the story of a woman slowly succoring to a form of Alzheimer’s, while trying to hold onto who she is. Film Threat says, "A mind is a terrible thing to watch waste away and rarely has the horror of losing one’s inner self to Alzheimer's been conveyed as precisely and powerfully as it is here," while Movie Chambers adds "Moore's performance as an early onset Alzheimer's patient is arguably her best. And, that takes into account four earlier Oscar nominations."

Also new is "A Most Violent Year," starring Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain as an immigrant couple in New York in 1981, facing a clash of values. Groucho Reviews calls it "An unsettling examination of moral drift, over a year in the life of a man and a generation in the life of a country." And Nerdist calls it "A crime story, a character study, and a really kick-ass pressure cooker."

"Birdman" is still flying high at the Tropic with 9 Oscar nominations. Michael Keaton plays a role close to home as a former superhero movie star trying to reestablish himself as a serious actor. 3AW notes, "Michael Keaton is astounding in this brilliantly conjured piece of stream-of-consciousness cinema by Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ... Prepare to be enthralled, dazzled, delighted and disturbed." And Filmink agrees that it’s "admirably daring and filled with wonderfully vivid performances."

"The Imitation Game" holds its own with 8 Oscar nods. Benedict Cumberbatch gives a masterful performance as the British mathematician who helped crack the Nazi Enigma code. East Bay Express sees it as "solid historical drama about someone who changed the world but is unknown today." And Commercial Appeal elaborates, calling it "a highly entertaining, immaculately produced drama about a genius-hero whose stiff-upper-lip resolve can't block a kick in the teeth when, years after the war, he is prosecuted for the 'crime' of homosexuality."

"Two Days, One Night" is up for an Academy Award as Best Foreign Language Film. Starring previous Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard, it tells of a woman who over a weekend must convince her co-workers to let her keep her job. Austin Chronicle calls it "contemporary social realism at its finest, portraying the complicated moral landscape we're constantly navigating and the difficult decisions this modern world has invariably wrought." And Creative Loafing concurs that "this harrowing drama derives most of its power from a knockout performance by Marion Cotillard."

And, of course, there are Oscar Shorts, five nominated short animation films, and five nominated live action shorts. What a potpourri! The Patriot Ledger says, "True, most of these films deal with depressing subject matter like illness, loneliness and government suppression, but just about all of them inspire hope and belief in the human spirit." And Mark Leeper Reviews sums it up, "One source for all the nominated films."

So go ahead, set a personal record by catching fifteen films in one short week!





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