Travel Around the World at Tropic Cinema
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communication
Tropic Cinema members and moviegoers can see the world for the price of a movie ticket. The six films playing there this week take you such exotic locales as India, New Zealand, Israel, Iraq, Peru and London -- even Timbuktu.
Those of you who saw "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" will certainly enjoy its charming sequel, "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." Once again we meet up with that gaggle of elderly Brits who retired to a run-down hostelry in India. This time Sonny (Dev Patel) wants to expand his holdings to a second hotel amid the tragi-comic lives of his guests (Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Richard Gere, et al.). Denver Post says, "Sure, it has the comfy vibe of the familiar, but it’s all in feel-good fun." And New York Magazine concurs: "Chances are, if you liked The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, you'll like the second best one as well."
From elderly hotel guests ruminating about death we go to New Zealand to meet up with a group of vampires who live forever in "What We Do in the Shadows." This funny mockumentary examines the challenge Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) faces as a new bloodsucker. Apparently it’s not easy being among the living dead. Minneapolis Star Tribune calls it "bloody awesome." And Chicago Reader declares, "I’m so sick of vampires I’d have pounded a stake into my own heart not to have to watch this, but it turns out to be a pitch-perfect spoof of MTV’s The Real World and a sly satire on millennial slackerdom."
On a more serious side trip, "Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem" takes us inside a rabbinical court in Israel where Viviane (Roni Elkabetz) is suing her husband for divorce. But that’s not so easy to do because a divorce under Jewish law requires the husband’s agreement. Toronto Star tells us, "It may puzzle audiences unfamiliar with the Israeli system but the rigid religious bureaucracy devoted to keeping a married couple together at all cost makes for a superb way of adding layers of tension to this effective drama." And Kaplan vs. Kaplan observes, "This movie manages to get under your skin unlike most other films you’re likely to see."
Again we find ourself in the Middle East with "America Sniper," the story of Chris Kyle, dubbed "the most lethal sniper in US military history. Bradley Cooper makes his mark as the famed marksman in this highest grossing film of 2014. Sacramento News & Review remarks, "What a surprise that rather than an uncritical testament to the might of the armed forces, director Clint Eastwood delivers this complex, conflicted and profoundly moving look at the military machine, and the toll it takes on the soldiers." And Movie Habit says the film "rivets our attention while giving us plenty to think about."
Another encounter with militant Islamists takes place in "Timbuktu," a city in West Africa. Here ISIS occupies the region where a poor cattle herder (Ibrahim Ahmed) is trying to survive under the rule of sharia law. Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes, "Even though the atrocities committed by radical jihadists dominate the headlines and airwaves, few in the West know what it's like to live under their reign." And Cinemalogue calls it, "a sharply observed yet sensitively rendered examination of patriarchal society and religious extremism that doesn't resort to heavy-handed political posturing.
Ending our travels on a lighter vein, we meet up with a cartoon bear who migrates from Peru to London with comic consequences in "Paddington." Jim Broadbent, Nicole Kidman, Sally Hawkins, and Hugh Bonneville show up for the fun, while Ben Whishaw gives us the voice of Paddington. Mountain Xpress finds it to be "a remarkable work -- so far ahead of any live-action (well, mostly live-action) family movies that it would be disgraceful to mention it in the same breath with them. The Nerdist describes it as "Sweet, charming, amusing, and classy. The sort of movie kids will still love when they’re old and cynical."
So buy your ticket and take a cinematic trip at the Tropic!