Monday, May 27, 2019

Dealing with the future in Noble Jones' unsettling, funny, surprising and moving movie, THE TOMORROW MAN

Audiences are not going to want to hear the message of THE TOMORROW MAN, the new movie from Noble Jones (here being billed as Nobel Lincoln Jones), any more than the recipient of the telephone call wants to hear the message being told him by the character, Ed (played so very well by John Lithgow) that opens this unusual film.

That message is this: The world we live in is today in such terrible trouble environmentally, politically, morally that we must do something/anything -- arm ourselves, stockpile, get ready, do something! -- before the shit (whether via our environment or our fellow man) hits the fucking fan.

Now, Mr. Jones, shown at right, whether by intention or maybe accident (I doubt the latter), has peopled his movie with two main characters so oddball and interesting, and then cast his film with two actors of such graceful, aging countenance and top-tier talent that you cannot take your eyes off them, as that aforementioned theme keeps rolling forward.

In addition to Mr. Lithgow (shown below, left), we have Blythe Danner (below, right) in yet another of her impressive senior-years roles (See You in My Dreams, What They Had, The Chaperone), and together these two superb actors bring to life a couple of characters we might not want to spend a lot of time with in real life -- due to their strange

compulsions/obsessions -- but are more than happy to watch in a movie that puts them front and center, then lets them run with the film and, for some folk, at least, steal it from under its urgent and uncompromising message. How uncompromising you will only understand at movie's end. Which I will not go into here.

Taken as a whole, The Tomorrow Man is a lot more than the sum of its clever parts: surly/sweet old codgers who are difficult but loveable; younger generation family members who just don't get it but still provide some love and support; an urgent warning of how we are losing the world we inhabit.

As much fun as the film often is, how terrific are its lead performances, how well-constructed the screenplay and well-written is the dialog, how astutely directed is scene after scene, overall, this is one quietly jolting experience. Sure, we ought to enjoy today -- the now and all that -- as the film points out. But, hello, what about the future?

From that opening scene, as what we hear sounds like some very intelligent, if aggressive, radio or TV pundit prognosticating on our dire future but then turns out to be someone quite different, Mr. Jones knows how to keep us on our toes by subverting expectation. Lithgow and Danner do this subverting, too -- as so many intelligent actors can. They know that surprising us is every bit as important as entertaining and/or pleasing us. And Jones has given them the opportunity to do all three.

The Tomorrow Man is full of ironies -- its title being but one of these. It will probably annoy as many people as it pleases, but it is worth seeing, enjoying, wrestling with and -- yes -- being depressed by. From Bleecker Street and running 94 minutes, the movie opens here in South Florida this Friday, May 31, in Boca Raton at the Cinemark Palace 20 and Regal Shadowood 18, and in Palm Beach Gardens at Cobb's Downtown at the Gardens 16. On Friday, June 14, the movie will expand to The Movies of Delray and the Movies of Lake Worth and to the Miami area at AMC's Sunset Place 24 and Aventura 24, CMX Brickell City Center 10, the Coral Gables Art Cinema, and Regal's South Beach 18. Wherever you live around the country, click here to learn if and when the film will be coming to a theater near you.

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