Friday, February 5, 2016

Week of February 5 - 11 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

Tropic Cinema Shorts Its Audiences
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Key West Citizen

Get out your yardstick. Tropic Cinema goes short this week. You’ll find the Oscar-nominated “The Big Short” still filling the screens, along with delightful collections of the Oscar-nominated animated and live-action short films.

“The Big Short” uses an ensemble cast -- Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, and Brad Pitt among them -- to tell the painfully funny story of a group of financial whizzes who get rich by betting against the banking housing bubble. Daily Express says, “Director Adam McKay displays a little bit of Martin Scorsese’s stylish swagger as he uses every possible means to make high finance seem sexy and compelling.” And The Scotsman observes, “‘The Big Short’ may be a comedy, but it never forgets that the joke was on us.”

 “Oscar Shorts - Animation” offers 15 animated films that are 6 to 17 minutes in length. Among them you’ll find “Bear Story,” “Chile Prologue,” and “Russia World of Tomorrow.” L.A. Biz notes, “This year’s batch of animated Oscar shorts offers an array of stunning styles from simple stick figures to classic hand-drawn animation to the most sophisticated CG.” And Philadelphia Inquirer adds, “Old school and new school, color pencils and touchscreen styli, a wide range of formats and techniques are represented … and that's a good thing.”

“Oscar Nominated Shorts - Live Action” gathers a handful of films ranging from 12 to 30 minutes in length that are particularly noteworthy. Ranging from “Ave Maria” to “Hebrew Day One,” from “German Shok” to “Serbian Stutter” and “Dari Everything Will Be Okay?”, these films will amaze you in their brilliant simplicity.  Chicago Tribune observes, “What happened to that Oscars diversity problem? Poof. Gone. Judging from the five nominated short films in the live-action category, the motion picture academy's problems of blinkered, whitey-white Oscars selection could be solved...” And the Patriot Ledger concludes, “This is the best overall collection I’ve seen in years, every one a four-star offering.”

Switching pace, “45 Years” looks at a couple -- Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay -- who are about to celebrate a big wedding anniversary. But the discovery of the frozen body of an old girlfriend changes the jubilant mood. Journal and Courier explains, “Writer-director Andrew Haigh’s script delves into the fragility of marriage and how one instant can make a person doubt a lifetime choice.” And Montreal Gazette notes, “Rampling and Courtenay don’t even have to raise their voices to command attention.”

Looking for a little shoot-‘em-up fun? Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” is a Western filled with gun-totin’ bad guys -- Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Bruce Dern to name a few -- trapped in a stagecoach way station during a fierce blizzard. Will any come out alive? says, “Viewers whose palates have adjusted to the loquacious maestro’s style will sigh with pleasure.” And Excelsior insists, “If you’re a Tarantino fan, you can’t miss this.”

However, this week’s pièce de résistance is “Hail Caesar!” -- the new Coen brothers comedy starring George Clooney as a kidnapped ‘50s movie star. Josh Brolin is the studio fixer assigned to clean up the mess with the help of an oddball collection of directors, actors, and film crew. An ensemble cast, you’ll encounter Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton, Jonah Hill, and of course Frances McDormand. Parade Magazine calls it “The Coens’ gloriously goofy homage to the glory days of big studios, big stars and the big wheels that churned out the spectacles of Hollywood’s dream factory from a bygone era.” And Los Angeles Times describes it as “a hipster mash note to the way things used to be, it will put a smile on your face and keep it there for the duration.”

Trust me, with any of the films you won’t feel the least bit shortchanged.

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