Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Week of June 12 - 18 (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

Movies to Sing About For Cinephiles!

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications

From musicals to actioners, Tropic Cinema offers a wide array of films. But each delivers something to sing about.

For instance, you’ll walk out of the movie theater singing to yourself after watching “Pitch Perfect 2,” the record-breaking film about a collegiate a cappella singing group headed by Beca (Anna Kendrick reprising her role from the first movie). Can they win the world competition this time around? Who cares as you enjoy this musical misadventure, second time around. Dark Horizon says, “Luckily, ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ retains the musical verve that made the first film so great.” And Quad City Times calls the girls’ singing “professional, exuberant and enjoyable.”

You’ll also be singing after seeing “Love & Mercy.” That’s the biopic about Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, a film that features a generous medley of their “California Dreaming” music. In order to cover Wilson’s success in the ‘60a followed by his mental instability during the ‘80s, first-time director Bill Pohlad uses two actors (Paul Dano and John Cusack) to play Wilson. Commercial
Appeal explains, “Contrary to the diagnosis of his control-freak psychotherapist, Beach Boy Brian Wilson was not exactly schizophrenic. Nonetheless, casting two different actors as Wilson to represent different phases of the songwriter's life is a gambit that pays off...” And Screen It! calls this “a mostly absorbing biopic, with top-notch tech credits (the sound design is exquisite), that will certainly appeal to Beach Boys and Brian Wilson fans.”

Next up is “Saint Laurent,” a film that deifies Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent (played by Gaspard Ulliel). This snapshot of the famous French fashion designer focuses on his life from 1967 to 1976 when  he was at the height of his haut couture success. Seattle Times observes, “It captures the tense flavor of a particularly heady time in Saint Laurent’s life, during which he struggled with addiction and illness and juggled relationships ...” And Globe and Mail succinctly calls it “the biopic as fever dream.”

More gritty is “The Water Diviner,” the story of an Aussie farmer who goes to Turkey looking for his sons who fought in the Battle of Gallipoli. Directed by (and starring) Russell Crowe, it’s a war drama that has turned out to be the highest grossing Australian film of 2014. Christian Science Monitor sees it as “a sloggy, heartfelt piece of quasi-magical realist storytelling.” And New York Magazine notes, “It’s clear that Russell Crowe has poured his heart and soul into the historical romance, his first feature as a director.”

And finally, bursting loose with non-stop action is “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the superhero blockbuster featuring an ensemble cast from the pages of Marvel Comics (Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, you name ‘em). Movie Chambers says, “Mindless action rules, punctuated only by super hero/villain quips.” And Q Network Film Desk adds that it’s “an improvement over the first Avengers; everything feels smoother, the pacing is a bit better, and the overall plot is more intriguing.”

Yes, all these films give movie buffs something to sing about.

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