Thursday, October 15, 2015

Week of October 16 - 22 (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

Six Films Tug Your Heart This Week at Tropic Cinema
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Key West Citizen

This week’s film selections at the Tropic range from a look at two down-on-their-luck gamblers on a road trip to a drama about a frustrated guy fighting for his family’s home, from a take-your-breath-away thriller about an illegal high-wire walk to a riveting documentary about the global movement that grew out of an assassination attempt on a 15-year-old girl, from a dark tale about Boston gangsters to a warm-and-fuzzy comedy about the generational gap.

“Mississippi Grind” finds two compulsive gamblers (Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn) heading to New Orleans for a big poker game, with a lot of stops at riverboat casinos along the way. This heartbreaking odyssey meanders along like the mighty Mississippi as you get to know these likeable losers. Mountain Xpress declares, “Edging close to greatness, this is a very good -- albeit rather sad -- character study about friendship, addiction and the hope for redemption -- or the next closest thing.” And Leonard Maltin assures us, “The combination of Reynolds and Mendelsohn makes this a sure bet...”

“99 Homes” is the heart-wrenching story of a family who lose their home in a sleazy foreclosure and how the son (Andrew Garfield) fights back by joining the enemy. Newsday calls it “A gripping dramatic thriller about the winners and losers in America's game of mortgage roulette.” And Minneapolis Star Tribune goes even further to say, “This is a film of palpable anger, a finger on the pulse of modern America crafted by a team of rare ability to awaken outrage.”

Based on a 1974 true-life event, “The Walk 3D” gives us the heart-stopping feat of Philippe Petit, the French high-wire artist who broke into the World Trade Center in order to walk between the twin towers. Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes a convincing Petit as he balances precariously on a wire strung 110 stories above the ground -- or at least it sure looks that way. Film Threat says, “Having digitally rebuilt the city with astonishing historical accuracy, director Robert Zemeckis stages Petit’s 45 minutes on a cable, 1,600 feet above the street, as one of the most lovely, terrifying, suspenseful and joyous sequences in movie history.” And Urban Cinefile calls it, “A glorious edge-of-seat affair.”

“He Named Me Malala” is the heart-felt documentary about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for attending school. As you know, she survived to start a worldwide movement promoting education for girls. Boston Globe observes, “The film is worthy, obviously, and it forces us to think about the prices paid by our unexpected heroes.” And Philadelphia Inquirer tells us, “It's quite a story, and if director Davis Guggenheim goes overboard in the telling of it, that's perfectly understandable.”

“Black Mass” is the true chronicle of Whitey Bulger, the South Boston crime boss who had the FBI in his pocket. Heartthrob Johnny Depp shaves back his head to give him the sinister look of Bulger to prove his acting chops. ABC Radio Brisbane agrees that “this is the best performance we've seen from Johnny Depp in a while. He’s created a character who will keep you on your toes throughout the whole film.” And Sydney Morning Herald adds, “[Depp] is evidently having a fine time -- and if his aim is to make our flesh creep, from his perspective at least ‘Black Mass’ must be reckoned a success.”

“The Intern” stars Robert De Niro as a 70-year-old retiree who takes a menial job at an e-commerce company headed by youngish Anne Hathaway. While there’s a wide gap in ages, there’s no distance in humanity as the intern becomes the teacher. The Atlantic says, “Thanks largely to performances by De Niro and Hathaway, ‘The Intern’ is a gentle, enjoyable fantasy -- and certainly director Nancy Meyers’s best film in more than a decade.” And Concrete Playground describes it as “A heartwarming tale of friendship and a constructive engagement with feminism and gender inequality.”

Six films from the heart. Enjoy them!

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