Thursday, February 25, 2016

Week of February 26 - March 3 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

Count ‘em! Seven Films on Tropic Screens…
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Key West Citizen

As we get caught up in Oscar fever, Tropic Cinema is squeezing even more Academy Award nominated films onto its four screens. By skillful scheduling there are seven movies playing at the Tropic this week. Wow!

“The Revenant” is still playing if you want to catch Leo Dio (that’s Leonardo DiCaprio to the less hip) in the role that may bring him an Oscar. This gritty Western gives us Leo as Hugh Glass, a hunter left for dead after an encounter with an enraged grizzly. But Glass refuses to give up the ghost, seeking revenge on the man who left him behind. Dark Horizon says, “Equal parts beautiful and brutal, it’s easily one of the most unsettling films of the past few years. It’s also one of the best.” And Cinencuentro calls it, “a visceral experience, starring actors at its best, and filmed in a very spectacular way.”

New to local screens is “Mustang,” the story about five young orphaned sisters growing up in a conservative Turkish village. Irish Times tells us, “Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s brilliant, affecting Academy Award-nominated drama, loosely based on her own upbringing, initially resembles ‘The Virgin Suicides’ only to swerve into nail-biting thriller terrain.” And Reforma finds it to be “a shocking portrait about the role of women in modern societies still governed by sexism.”

Another Middle Eastern film is “Theeb,” a “Bedouin Western” that follows a young boy trying to survive in the Wadi Rum desert of Southern Jordan. The New Republic describes the Oscar-nominated film as “an inversion of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ -- a film told from the perspective of Arab Bedouins rather than colonial adventurers, a scrappy coming of age story rather than a grand tale of epic, colonial ambitions.” And Los Angeles Times adds that this is “a disarmingly complex boyhood adventure with no shortage of tension or harsh beauty.”

Also new is “Anomalisa,” a film from the fetid brain of Charlie Kaufman. Here, animated stop-motion puppets portray an antisocial writer and the woman who brings him out of his shell. Voiced by David Thewlis and Jennifer Jason Leigh, this is the first R-rated animated film ever to be nominated for an Oscar. calls it “charmingly odd and disarmingly funny.” And The List says, “Achingly melancholic and philosophically ambitious, ‘Anomalisa’ molds reality into something genuinely magical.”

A different kind of satire is “Hail, Caesar!” -- Joel and Ethan Coen’s comedy about Hollywood in the ‘50s. Josh Brolin and George Clooney headline this wry romp about a studio fixer trying to retrieve a kidnapped star. Urban Cinephile tells us, “A burnt out Hollywood Executive, a kidnapped movie star, a tenacious gossip columnist and a study group with communist tendencies are some of the scrumptious characters in this latest Coen Brothers jewel.” And Blog de cine sees it as “A film that knows how to laugh at itself and those things it represents without being coarse or easy.”

Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next” may surprise you as it enumerates the successful ideas in foreign countries that got their start in America. Sure, this documentary pushes Moore’s liberal agenda, but that’s what we expect with him. The Young Folks calls it “an important message on the social, political and economic state of our country.” And Rolling Stone sums it up: “A crazy-like-a-fox documentary hell-bent on seeing the best in people. Other people. Not us Americans. Turns out we suck at practicing what we preach. It’s classic Michael Moore.”

And you can catch your breath with "The Lady in the Van,” a “mostly true” story about an elderly woman who parks her van in a British author’s driveway … for 15 years. Maggie Smith is perfect in the role. Spirituality and Practice describes it as “a vibrant dramedy about the idiosyncratic relationship between a homeless elderly woman and a lonely playwright.” And The Film Stage adds, “Without slipping into mushy sentimental overtures, the movie has something real and immediate to say about the power of compassion.”

With the Oscars at hand, you’ll want to spend a lot of time at the Tropic.

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