Friday, November 13, 2015

Week of Nov. 13 - 19 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

Films at the Tropic Get Real
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Key West Citizen

Four of the five films screening at Tropic Cinema this week are based on real-life events -- the time-frames ranging from 1912 right up to the minute.

“Suffragette” tells of the fight for women’s rights in turn-of-the-century England. Carey Mulligan gives us a laundress caught up in the hullabaloo and Meryl Streep is there as the leader of the militant Suffragette Movement. calls it “a worthwhile reminder of how far women have come and the price they had to pay to get here.” And Minneapolis star Tribune opines, “Mulligan, in particular, delivers, bringing believability to a role that's quite a stretch, given the transformation her character has to go through from workaday mum to first-wave feminist superhero.”

“Truth” is a more recent history, the story of how national news anchor Dan Rather lost his job. Robert Redford puts his chin forward as Rather and Cate Blanchett nails it as Mary Mapes, the “60 Minutes” producer who precipitated their downfall. observes the film “provokes an intriguing discussion of how politics and big business have changed the risks and angles that news organizations take, with the truth getting lost in the shuffle.” And Seattle Times says it’s “mesmerizing, entirely because of Blanchett…”

“Big Stone Gap” is a picture-postcard view of a small town in Virginia where an avowed spinster (played by Ashley Judd) learns a secret that makes her rethink her life choices. says, “Sure, the script can be simpler than a diner menu. And at times the nostalgia seems manufactured like the goodies at a Cracker Barrel gift shop, but...Big Stone Gap proves to be...a nice change of pace from the summer popcorn-movie season.” And concludes, “The movie ambles along amiably enough …”

“Steve Jobs” is screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s take on the co-founder of Apple. Michael Fassbender plays the genius who never knew his own father, yet rejected his own illegitimate daughter. Suburban Journals of St. Louis asks, “Was Steve Jobs' success achieved because of his caustic personality or in spite of it? The answer is inconclusive, which is kind of what makes this movie great.” And Cleveland Plain Dealer adds, “Fassbender's performance is a stunning achievement of subtlety and power, as he presents Jobs as a witty, likable and engaging person in one conversation and a conflicted, shutdown monster in the next.”

And “Bridge of Spies” is another Steven Spielberg tour de force, with Tom Hanks portraying the lawyer who negotiated the trade of Russian spy Rudolf Abel for downed U2 pilot Gary Powers. notes, “Spielberg and Hanks brings the romance of classic cinema.” And Buzzfeed tells us the film is “a heart-on-its-sleeve affirmation of American values -- not in the loaded contemporary sense of the term, but in the way the country was founded on values we have to work and fight to abide by.”

If only my history classes in college were as interesting as these films!

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