Friday, March 18, 2016

Week of March 18 - 25 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

Eight Films Vie for Screen Time at Tropic
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Key West Citizen

This may be a record for Tropic Cinema, eight -- count ‘em, eight -- movies showing on its four screens. While this very likely amounts to a scheduling nightmare for Tropic programmers and projectionists, it offers great variety for Key West moviegoers. 

This year’s Best Picture Oscar-winner “Spotlight” continues to tell its true-story about a team of Boston Globe reporters who uncover abuse within the Catholic Church. The ensemble cast includes Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, and Rachel McAdams. Graffiti With Punctuation calls it “an advertorial for journalistic objectivity and integrity in the face of abject perversion.” And Excelsior notes, “The effort and teamwork highlighted in this film is absorbing, intelligent and … its cinematic importance is undeniable.”

Another Oscar winner is Leonardo DiCaprio for his role in “The Revenant,” the revenge Western famous for its gruesome grizzly bear scene. Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu won a golden statuette too. Konexion observes, “DiCaprio offers what is probably the most physically demanding role of his career, almost completely lacking in dialog – although no less powerful for that.” And Todays Zaman calls it “a powerhouse of a film, with an admirable cinematic brilliance achieved by creating an enthralling universe of harsh men and harsh wildlife.”

Nominated for Best Foreign Language, “Embrace of the Serpent” is a lyrical examination of uncontacted tribes in the Amazon. The storyline follows two scientific expeditions led by the same shaman, although they take place some 30 years apart. Chicago Reader tells us, “This stunning historical drama, shot mainly in black and white across the Amazon region of Colombia, focuses on a shaman who’s approached at different points by white men seeking medicinal substances.” And Washington Post says, “Like Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ (and the movie it inspired, ‘Apocalypse Now’), the drama examines the idea of progress and what it means to be civilized.”

A more urban setting is found in “The Lady in the Van,” with Maggie Smith portraying a wacko old woman who parks her van in a writer’s driveway … for 15 years. Mountain Xpress calls it “A charming, touching, absolutely delightful comedy-drama with a terrific Maggie Smith performance.” And The Young Folk explains, “What essentially fuels this film is an intelligent script, one that reminds us of the depressing inevitability of old age while still bolstering a genuinely comedic tone throughout its run-time.”

Another interesting lady is profiled in “Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict,” a documentary about the famous art patron. Yes, that famous New York museum is named after her family. Newcity sees it as “a brisk, neatly constructed look behind the life of the late heiress who became one of the twentieth century’s most proficient wheelers and dealers at the top end of the art market, collecting art, but also artists along the way.” And Globe and Mail naughtily adds, “By her own legendary admission, Guggenheim had thousands of lovers and pursued art and sex in equal measure.” 

A heroic Coast Guard rescue is recounted in “The Finest Hours.” This so-called suicide mission was led by Boatswain’s Mate First Class Bernie Webber, played by Chris Pine. The Film Stage finds it to be “a lush disaster film that assumes audiences will undoubtedly root for love at all costs.” And Daily Express says it “packs an emotional punch.”

“Eddie the Eagle” is another true story, the inspiring tale of British skier Michael “Eddie” Edwards. Taron Egerton takes the title role, backed up by Hugh Jackman and Christopher Walken. SSG Syndicate calls it “an uplifting, feel-good film that soars with sentiment” and NowToronto says, “Eddie looks like a cockeyed genius who just had to believe in himself. By the end of the movie, everyone else believes in him, too.” 

Just want to sit back and laugh? Then you’ll enjoy “How to be Single,” an instructive rom-com starring Dakota Johnson. Think of it as “Sex and the City” Lite. El Nuevo Dia summarizes it as “the ups in downs of being single from the female perspective presented in a very funny way.” And 3AW adds, “Hey, here’s an original idea for a comedy: single girls in New York trying to land men.”

Whew! Eight films, a marathon for cinephiles.

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