Friday, September 11, 2015

Week of Sept. 11 - 17 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

Thrills, Humor, and True Stories Fill Tropic Screens

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications

Doing nothing but watching reruns of “Law and Order” on TV? Avoid the brain rot of repetitive viewing. Get out and see a new film at the Tropic Cinema.

Well worth your time is “Meru,” a breathtaking documentary about three experienced climbers (Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk) attempting to scale the Shark's Fin on 21,000-foot-high Mount Meru in Northern India. But this true story comes off with all the nail-biting excitement of a feature film, with twists and turns and character development and cinematography that will take
your breath away. Arizona Republic calls it “thrilling, harrowing.” Newcity describes it as “achingly beautiful, eye-widening...” Kaplan vs. Kaplan says, “The film's combination of post-climb interviews and real-time footage provides the moviegoer with a unique perspective of these men. In a mere 90 minutes, we get to know them on a strangely personal level that other documentaries rarely achieve.”

Another nature outing is “A Walk in the Woods,” a somewhat-humorous film based on a true story. Robert Redford and Nick Nolte portray two inept (read: fat and out of shape) guys who set out to hike the Appalachian Trail, Georgia to Maine. A walk in the woods it’s not. SSG Syndicate calls it,
“Sensitive and scenic, it's an amiable amble with two crusty curmudgeons…” Aisle Seat describes it as “Grumpy Old Men in the wild.” And Truthdig tells us, “Everyone will have a reasonably good time without muddying their boots.”

A different kind of walkabout is found in “Mistress America,” an indie film by Noah Baumbach about two step-sisters-to-be (Greta Gerwig and Lola Kirke) strolling around New York City in search of madcap adventure. Fort Wayne Weekly says, “If your taste in humor runs to the sophisticated, Mistress America is a decent late-summer bet.” Advocate calls it “funny and poignant.” And Detroit News terms it, “thoughtful and real while consistently riotous.”

Crazy is more scary in “The Gift,” a suspense thriller starring Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall as a couple who become concerned about a weirdo (director/co-star Joel Edgerton) who pops up from the
past.  Rip It Up says, “All in all, a very entertaining and disquieting psychological drama that
demonstrates that Edgerton certainly has (ahem) a gift.” And RealViews adds, “Clever and atmospheric, the film has enough twists to keep the average viewer guessing.”

A documentary of a different kind is “Listen to Me Marlon,” a compilation of private tape recording made over his lifetime by legendary Method actor Marlon Brando. This is about as personal a portrait
as you can get short of climbing into someone else’s skin. The Village Voice calls Stevan Riley’s doc “a masterpiece. And Boston Globe notes, “It's as if Riley has ushered us into the darkened chamber of the actor's memories, where Brando himself can whisper in our ear.”

If you want your adventure more tongue-in-cheek predictable, catch “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” a spy thriller based on the old TV show. This time around Henry Cavill ("Man of Steel") and Armie Hammer ("The Lone Ranger") co-star as Napoleon Solo and his reluctant Russian sidekick Illya
Kuryakin. Out to save the world, they rely on the assistance of an untrustworthy femme fatale (Alicia Vikander). Dark Horizon says, “It's a brisk, smart, fun action comedy that takes the premise of the 1964-68 TV series, replaces the dated campiness with effortless cool, and dresses it in slick '60s period detail that makes Mad Men look amateurish in comparison.” And Butaca Ancha calls this latest Guy Ritchie movie “a spectacle worth seeing.”

And for the best action film of the summer, there’s “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation,” fifth in this franchise also based on an old TV show. The draw in this spy tale is Tom Cruise doing his own stunts and Rebecca Ferguson in a strong role as a disavowed British agent. Indie London calls it “a
blockbuster that expertly combines exhilarating visual thrills with the kind of intricate storyline that requires viewers to pay attention. It also treads a nice line between the drama and the humor.” SF Weekly agrees that “the introduction of British agent Ilsa Faust to the mix suggests that this may be one of the only ongoing spy concerns that actually know how to use female characters.”  And International Business Times says the film “is able to truly wow in several fleeting scenes of espionage and huzzah moments.”

See, lots to choose from. An antidote to television reruns.

No comments: