Tropic Cinema Toots Its Horn With Five Films
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Key West Citizen Film Critic
From a biopic about jazz musician Chet Baker to a sci-fi tale about a kid with special powers, two new films add a welcome riff to three outstanding holdovers.
With “Born to Be Blue” we find a compelling portrait of Chet Baker, the jazz trumpeter who made “My Funny Valentine” linger in our minds. Here we follow his rise to fame, playing with such greats as Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, and his downfall due to a heroin addiction. Ethan Hawke gives one of his best performances as a musician fighting his own demons. The Patriot Ledger tells us, “Hawke plays Baker the way Baker played the trumpet, always open to interpretation and unafraid to color outside the lines. It’s fabulous work, probably the best of his career.” And Boston Herald gushes, “As cliched as it sounds, sometimes an actor is born to play a role. That’s certainly the case with Ethan Hawke as iconic jazz trumpeter Chet Baker.”
“Midnight Special” takes us to rural Texas where Roy (Michael Shannon) is on the run with his eight-year-old son Alton (Jaeden Lieberher), a kid with otherworldly powers. Thanks to help by a friendly state trooper (Joel Edgerton), they dodge the FBI, a religious cult, and an amber alert as they try to get the boy to an undisclosed location in time for a world-changing event. The Ooh Tray says, “This is sci-fi for those who’ve put away childish things.” And Mountain Xpress adds, “Jeff Nichols' latest, Midnight Special, is the writer-director’s most complex and accomplished film to date.”
Helen Mirren tracks terrorist using an “Eye In the Sky,” drones that hover over bad guys preparing a suicide bombing at a house in Kenya. Can she convince her superiors to pull the trigger when collateral damage is involved? Cinecue calls it “An impressive demonstration of cinema’s ability to tackle complex ethical and philosophical issues without forgetting to entertain.” And Empire Magazine says, “It’s a tight thriller played out smoothly but tying the viewer in moral knots. A film to think about for days, with little hope of finding a comfortable answer.”
Davis (that’s Jake Gyllenhaal) is having a tough time in “Demolition,” His wife has just died and the vending machine won’t deliver the candy he wants. His solution? Demolish everything to do with his old life and rebuild a new one. ABC News Radio declares, “Jake Gyllenhaal should be your favorite actor.” And Time Out expounds, “Director Jean-Marc Vallée doesn’t seem to mind when his movies become sun-dappled insta-redemption stories so long as there’s a bravura central turn holding it all down.”
And for a happy ending, we have “Hello, My Name Is Doris,” with 60-somrething Doris (Sally Field) falling for a younger co-worker. It’s funny, it’s sad, it might just happen. Windy City Times calls this “A charming ugly duckling story with some surprising and very welcome turns.” And Movie Nation dubs it “A sleeper for senior citizens, this year’s ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.’”
There you have it -- five films worth trumpeting about.