Friday, February 27, 2015

Week of February 27 - March 5 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview
Tropic Cinema and the Oscar Aftermath

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications

Admit it, there were a few Oscar contenders you missed. Now you’d like to go back and see them, to discover for yourself why these movies deserved Hollywood’s highest accolade. Well, Tropic Cinema offers that second chance to see a handful of noteworthy films.

"Birdman" is flying high after its four Oscar wins for Best Picture, Best director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. Here Michael Keaton plays it close to the bone as a former superhero movie star who gave it all up, but now wants to make a comeback in a troubled Broadway play. The one-shot cinematography while not new (think: "Snake Eyes" or "Rope" or "Russian Ark") wowed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voters. The Mercury sees it as "a slick delivery vehicle for a philosophically detailed existential crisis story, with life imitating art imitating life." and Filmink describes it as "admirably daring and filled with wonderfully vivid performances."

"Whiplash" also ruled with three Oscars, notable a Best Supporting Actor nod to the familiar face of J.K. Simmons ("Juno," TV’s "The Closer," those Farmer’s Insurance TV commercials), along with golden statuettes for Best Film Editing and Best Sound Mixing. He plays an overbearing music teacher driving students beyond their abilities. Daily Express tell us, "Simmons is unnervingly good as a teacher who rules by fear and the final showdown provides as gripping a climax as you will see all year." And The Ooh Tray calls it "as close to a perfect film as you're likely to see."

Still playing at the Tropic is "Still Alice," the Alzheimer’s film that won Julienne Moore an Academy Award as Best Actress. Here we follow the gradual loss of self-awareness by a famed linguistics professor who is afflicted with this terrible disease. Not a cheerful story, but definitely well acted by Miss Moore. Times-Picayune declares, "Julianne Moore isn't merely good in the lead role. She's devastatingly, heartbreakingly good." And Austin American-Statesman advises, "The focus on Alzheimer’s might be off-putting, but don’t let that stop you from seeing Julianne Moore."

Nominated for eight Oscars, "The Imitation Game" won for Best Adapted Screenplay. This is the story of WWII code breaker Alan Turning, masterfully played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Houston Press says, "Cumberbatch gives a performance that is, by turns, awkward, triumphant, and heartbreaking." And Monsters and Critics calls it "a rich performance with the pathos and drama of a new age of technology set within the hardships of war."
Back again is "The Theory of Everything," with Best Actor Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne as famed physicist Stephen Hawking. Cinema Signal tells us, "In a biopic-heavy Oscar season, Redmayne’s crack performance pays homage to a man who has advanced the studies of quantum mechanics, general relativity and black hole radiation." And Concrete Playground sees the movie as "a fitting reminder that beyond the extraordinary maths lies a man: mortal, flawed and confounded by love."

And taking aim is "American Sniper," with six Oscar nominations (and winning Best Sound Editing). Here we have Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. Dial M for Movies says, "Amongst all the praise and criticism of the film, one thing that is certain -- Bradley Cooper succeeds in bringing Chris Kyle's patriotism and private battles to the screen." And Movie Habit notes that the film "rivets our attention while giving us plenty to think about."

And, of course, there’s "Mr. Turner," nominated for four Academy Awards. This is a biopic starring Timothy Spall as curmudgeonly British painter J.M.W. Turner. Charlotte Observer says, "Turner's great oils and watercolors ... seem indistinct at first but consist of a wealth of details that eventually merge into a clear picture. Mike Leigh’s movie does the same, building a full portrait from a series of vignettes." And Austin American-Statesman sees it as "an absolutely luminous film."

So there you have it. Don’t miss this chance to see (or re-see) some of this year’s Oscar winners and nominees.



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