Thursday, June 30, 2016

Week of July 1 - 7 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

Biopics Lead Off This Week’s Tropic Lineup
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Biographical films take many forms. This week Tropic Cinema presents two, one told somewhat like an unfettered stage play, the other mindful of an action-packed historical documentary. Along with those two films, are three others that offer plenty of thrills, chills, and adventure.

 The first biopic, “Genius” is based on the real-life collaboration between Thomas Wolfe of “Look Homeward, Angel” fame and Maxwell Perkins, the book editor who also worked with Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Jude Law and Colin Firth doff their British accents to play the pair. Detroit News says the film “deals with the creative ego, its trappings and the need everyone has for an editor.” And Kaplan vs. Kaplan adds, “The film is a captivating example of superb acting and writing, not to be missed by serious cinephiles.”

Next up is “Free State of Jones,” the true story of a band of Confederate deserters who found against the Union Army. Matthew McConaughey portrays Newton Knight, leader of the renegades who declared Jones County, Mississippi, to be a “free state.” Tulsa World proclaims, “There’s a good history lesson here, along with the hero turn, and thankfully it’s not totally covered up by the Hollywoodization of the subject matter.” And concludes, “This may be one of the most honest American films about slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction ever made.”

“Our Kind of Traitor” seems like it could be a true story, as we follow the turmoil of a couple (Ewan McGregor and Naomi Harris) caught between the British Secret Service and the Russian Mafia when they try to help a charming defector (Stellan Skarsgård).  Compuserve calls it “a tense spy tale in the John Le Carre tradition.” And Time Out concludes the movie “reveals our world to be run by snakes.”

“Independence Day: Resurgence” is a sequel to the 1996 sci-fi epic about earth fighting off space invaders. Will Smith decided to sit this one out, but Jessie Usher steps in to play his character’s stepson. Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Vivica A. Fox, and Jeff Goldblum return to help fight off the aliens. Movie Talk states, “The new film isn’t so much a reprise of ID4 as it is a combination of tribute act and reunion tour.” And Huffington Post observes, “Based on the popularity of the original, and the strength of the characters created there, this sequel should have been a sure thing; it isn't. Oh, it is good but it should have been so much better.”

“Nice Guys” is a fun-filled action flick about a mismatched pair of detectives (Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe) investigating the death of a porn star. New York Magazine says “Nice Guys” has a nice feel: “Just slick enough to keep from falling apart, just brutal enough to keep from seeming inconsequential.” And El Antepenúltimo Mohicano notes that it “stands out due to its great dose of cynicism and satire of the Hollywood industry.”

Biopics to bare knuckles, spies to spaceships -- plenty to see at the Tropic.

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