Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Week of May 13 - 19 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview
Eight Films Fill Four Screens at Tropic Cinema
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

The Tropic amazes with the number of films it can squeeze on its four screens -- this week eight. That means lots of movies, three of them new to Key West cinephiles.

One of the new films, “The Man Who Knew Infinity” is a biopic about Srinivasa Ramanujan, an autodidactic Indian man who amazed the professors at Cambridge with his mathematical abilities. If you’re going to do a movie about a young Indian, who better to star than Dev Patel (“Slumdog Millionaire,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”)? Ft. Worth Star-Telegram summarizes it as “an incredible true story about an impoverished Indian man whose Jedi math skills helped him triumph over race, class and bad food in early 20th century England.” And Rip It Up elaborates, “This is all about Patel’s characterization, and while this London-born actor has been excellent before, here his measured, restrained playing holds the film together, and we wind up adoring this extraordinary man who really went to infinity -- and beyond.”

In “Louder Than Bombs” a father has conflicting memories with his two sons about their late mother, a noted war photographer. Jesse Eisenberg and Devin Druid play the sons; Gabriel Bryne, the father. But Isabelle Huppert is the focus of the film, her wartime story told in flashbacks. Minneapolis Star Tribune finds it to be “a note-perfect exploration of death and life and loss.” And New York Observer adds, “There are moments of almost unspeakable beauty in the film, not the least of which are Isabelle’s war zone photographs.”

“Sing Street” is a musical comedy about a boy who starts a band to impress a girl. Isn’t that how most bands come about? RTE Interactive pegs it as “a truly touching tribute to teenhood and that time when you didn’t know what you didn’t know.” And Sacramento News & Review calls it “great fun, with a terrific euro-grunge soundtrack.”

“Papa Hemingway in Cuba” gives us Adrian Sparks as the great writer, Joely Richardson as his wife Mary, and Giovanni Ribisi as the young writer telling the story of Hemingway’s declining years at Finca Vigia. Rolling Stone observes, “The first U.S. film shot in Cuba since Castro came to power in 1959, ‘Papa’ gives us sights to revel in.” And San Diego Reader says, “In the end, it’s a museum piece…”
Another true story, “Elvis & Nixon” chronicles the comic meeting between the King and the President. Michael Shannon has all the moves down pat as Elvis Presley and Kevin Spacey channels Richard M. Nixon like a pro. Chicago Reader notes, “The spectacle of Presley visiting Nixon’s buttoned-down White House in his jeweled sunglasses, silk scarf, open shirt, and giant gold belt is inherently farcical…” And Vanity Fair calls it “a bright snapshot, a toothless but amiable comedy anchored by two chunky bits of acting.”

“A Hologram for a King” proves Tom Hanks can play any role without effort. Here he’s an American businessman trying to do a deal with the Saudis. Christian Science Monitor describes it as “a sweet, deliberately meandering movie …” And sees it as “always pleasant, occasionally funny, surprisingly touching, and yet another reason to worship Tom Hanks.”

In the “The Boss,” funny girl Melissa McCarthy plays a Martha Stewart-like tycoon who goes to prison for stock manipulation, then tries to rebuild her reputation. Easier said than done when you’re obnoxious. Crikey sums it up, “‘The Boss’ is a cynical, obscenity-dipped comedy about how the American Dream can be imagined, won, lost and won again…” And 4:3 calls it, “a smug, tacky and indefensible cavalcade of free-market conservative values dressed up in innocent buffoonery …”

“Green Room” will give you nightmares. This horror flick graphically shows a punk rock band (Anton Yelchin and others) under attack by a club owner (Patrick Stewart) and his skinhead henchmen. The Atlantic says, “Scrape off the scum, and you’ll find ‘Green Room’ full of visual artistry, dark humor, smart writing, and glints of humanity.” And Globe and Mail concludes, “It’s a delightfully cruel work of high tension, perfect in just how quickly and easily it gets under your skin.”

Eight films -- count ‘em. Lots of movies to see this week.

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