Friday, August 7, 2015

Week of August 7 to August 13 (Rhoades)

Woody Allen Leads New Films At Tropic Cinema

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications

This week Tropic Cinema offers us films about murderous intellectuals, angry trannies, redemptive prizefighters, rampaging dinosaurs, and dead singers.

Take a look:

Allan Stewart Konigsberg makes thought-worthy movies. You probably know him better as Woody Allen. His latest -- a philosophical rumination titled “Irrational Man” -- features Joaquin Phoenix as a college philosophy professor who decides to kill a stranger. That seems to invigorate his sex life with a student (Emma Stone) and a fellow faculty member (Parker Posey). Detroit News says, “At the age of 79, Woody Allen is still a formidable filmmaker (‘Blue Jasmine’ was just two years ago). But he is also, inevitably, Woody Allen.” Boston Globe comments, “In the end, this feeble effort remains tainted, however unfairly, by the creator's personal life. Maybe Allen should have titled it ‘Rationalizing Man.’” And Urban Cinefile sums it up, “With its somewhat cynical view of life, love and sense of purpose, the film plays out beautifully on an intellectual level, while the compelling presence of Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone brings a formidable dynamic.”

“Tangerine” is a movie about an angry ex-con transsexual woman named Sin-Dee (played by Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) and her trans pal (Mya Taylor) who spends Christmas Eve searching for Sin-Dee’s boyfriend (James Ransone) and the straight woman (Mickey O’Hagan) he’s cheating on her with. The Hollywood Reporter described the film as “a singularly delightful girlfriend movie with an attitude.” Arizona Republic observes, “Rodriguez and Taylor are terrific. Their confidence is infectious, yet they never let us forget the challenges their lives offer.” And Newsday calls it a “smart, antic comedy that’s eager to offend.”

“Southpaw” carries over on Tropic screens. Here Jake Gyllenhaal portrays a prizefighter trying to make a comeback, kind of a “Rocky” with grit. New England Movies Weekly comments that this is “a story we’ve seen many times before, but it’s acted with such heart and directed with such skill that it’s hard to resist.” And Quad City Times says, “It punches past boxing clich├ęs.”

Action thriller fans will want to catch “Jurassic World,” the fourth installment in the Jurassic Park series. You guessed it -- a big bad dinosaur terrorizes the island theme park. This time it’s up to an intrepid dino trainer (Chris Pratt) to save the day from this genetically modified Indominus rex. About.com describes it thus: “Dinosaurs escape, people get eaten. Same old story but with bigger dinosaurs.” And ABC Radio Brisbane tells us it’s “worth seeing for the pure spectacle.”

The late Amy Winehouse, that eclectic British songstress who died at the age of 27 from alcohol poisoning, is profiled in “Amy: The Girl Behind the Name,” a documentary by Asif Kapadia. The film uses a pastiche of home movies, rare footage of recording sessions, unheard recording tracks, videos shot on tour, and interviews to piece together her tormented life and career. Flicks.co.nz describes the doc as being “in-your-face intimate, a tragic rise and fall lit by paparazzi flashbulbs.” Sacramento News & Review sees it as “an extremely powerful and emotionally resonant work, and a stirring testimony to the unique talent and unrealized potential of Amy Winehouse.” And Chicago Daily Herald sums it up as “mostly a celebratory work, laced with the acidic realization that nobody wanted to be a speed bump on the singer's road to self-demise.”

Woody Allen to Amy Winehouse -- take a look.

srhoades@aol.com

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