Friday, August 21, 2015

Week of August 21 - 27 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

Tropic Cinema Gets High Marks for Movies About Highs and Lows
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications

This week’s Tropic screenings feature emotional highs and lows. All infinitely interesting.

“The End of the Tour” is an intellectual treat, the reenactment of Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky’s five-day parry-and-thrust interview with David Foster Wallace, the acclaimed author of “Infinite Jest.” Jesse Eisenberg spent time with Lipsky to get the portrayal just right, and Jason Segel nails Wallace (they even look alike). Journal and Courier calls it “a compelling character study of
young men with different outlooks on fame and celebrity.” And Fort Worth Weekly says it’s “the best movie I can remember about clinical depression. It isn’t depressing, though. Its overall effect is rather exhilarating.”

“Infinitely Polar Bear” gives us Mark Ruffalo as a manic-depressive who becomes the primary caregiver for his two daughters while his wife gets her MBA. Routine helps stabilize his bipolar
condition, but rambunctious daughters are all but his undoing. Detroit News notes, “Ruffalo is generally wonderful at finding the tone and mood of a character …” And Tulsa World sees it as “a welcome bit of personal storytelling in which the only thing at stake for this family is everything.”

“Ricki and the Flash” offers up Meryl Streep as an unconventional mom, an aging rock musician who must go back home to help her daughter who is suicidally distraught over an impending divorce. This musical dramedy features Mamie Gummer (Streep’s real-life daughter) as the estranged offspring. Reel Talk Movie Reviews says, “Meryl Streep’s amazing rock-and-roll performance makes this movie something very special indeed.” And ReelViews adds, “The movie is mature in the way it handles the regrets of absentee parents and the ways in which their children relate to them.”

“The Stamford Prison Experiment” recreates a college psych professor’s test in which students play the parts of prison guards and prisoners with unexpected results. Chicago Reader says, “Billy Crudup
gives a fine performance as Dr. Philip Zimbardo, who engineered the whole thing and was then pulled into his own power trip.” And Philadelphia Inquirer concludes, “Watching these young men brutalize each other is troubling enough, but perhaps the film’s most interesting angle is how the experiment changes more than its subjects.”

“Minions” is a prequel about those little yellow cartoon characters that you met in “Despicable Me.” Here they look for a worthy villain to serve, coming up with dastardly Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock). Globe and Mail declares, “With its episodic stream of slapstick gags, ‘Minions’ has moments of piquant absurdity, but mostly its shrill-but-cutesy anarchy works as a visual sugar rush for the preschool set.” And Starburst decides it’s “almost complete nonsense, but it’s good natured, enjoyable nonsense nonetheless.”

And having the last laugh is “Trainwreck,” the Judd Apatow comedy about a commitment-phobic magazine writer (Amy Schumer) who meets Mr. Right. The Scotsman observes, “There’s little doubt that Schumer is a star in the making with a point of view and plenty to say.” Chicago Sun Times agrees, “Schumer's performance is a tour de force of razor-sharp comedic timing.” And Digital Spy calls it “a heartfelt, consistently funny film that deftly sidesteps its potential clich├ęs at every turn.”

All in all, this selection of movies deserves high marks.

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