Thursday, July 2, 2015

Week of July 3 - 9 (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

Six Tropic Films for Us and Them
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications

This week’s Tropic Cinema’s lineup seemingly follows the philosophy of two for us, one for them. Only this week it’s four indie films versus two mainstream movies -- six films in all. And let’s admit it, being movie lovers we’re both us and them.

First up is “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” a life-affirming tale of two teen filmmakers who befriend a classmate diagnosed with leukemia. Yes, a sad theme, but this wonky little film is far from
being a downer. Examiner calls it “an emotional, powerful, and well written drama with a strong message, incredible writing, and powerful performances.” And St. Louis Post-Dispatch proclaims it “a must-see -- and one of the best films of the year.”

Next up, “A Little Chaos” gives us a glimpse of the court of Louis XIV (actor/director Alan Rickman) where the landscaper (Matthias Schoenaerts) is falling for Sabine (Kate Winslet), the woman he hires to design a fountain at Versailles. Boston Herald says, “A 17th Century semi-historical romantic drama, the film has its pleasures. Winslet is lovely and resilient as its faux feminist heroine.” And Reeling Reviews calls it “a little fish in a big pond of summer blockbusters but it is a film worth seeing for its story, characters, especially Sabine, and period production.”

Then we have “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” a sweet film starring Blythe Danner as a widow who wants more out of life than playing cards with her friends -- so she hangs out with the pool guy, tries speed-dating, and falls for a wealthy suitor (Sam Elliott). But how is that working out? Detroit News sees it as “a touching, funny and thoughtful film that trades in honesty rather than artifice.” Creative Loafing calls it “a confident feature angel-kissed with an enviable cast.” And Illinois Times says, “Danner delights.”

“Escobar: Paradise Lost” features Benicio Del Toro as a Colombian drug lord whose daughter is seeing a young American surfer. A dangerous match. Reel Talk Movie Reviews says, “In the role of Pablo Escobar, Benicio Del Toro exudes menace.” And Washington Post observes, “The suspense … in the film's final hour is genuine, and the action gripping.

Balancing off this quartet of indie films is “Spy,” a wacky comedy about a lowly CIA analyst (Melissa McCarthy) who goes undercover with two top agents (Jude Law and Jason Statham) to avert a global disaster. Movie Talk terms it “a rib-tickling espionage spoof that gives a confident female-centered spin to the traditionally ultra-masculine spy movie genre.” And Spectrum calls it “the year’s best comedy so far.”

The other big mainstream film is “Mad Max: Glory Road,” director George Miller’s return to a dystopian future where ISIS-like tribes are chasing Max (Tom Hardy in this new version) across the wasteland as he assists a woman (Charlize Theron) in rescuing a truckload of runaway brides. Seattle Weekly calls it “masterfully kinetic and often downright berserk.” And Spliced Personality tells us, “You stumble out of the theatre giddy about what films can do, transported by the breathtaking velocity in this battering ram of a picture that just goes, goes, goes and then keeps on going.”

All in all, four indies for us and two mainstream movies for … us too!

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