Short reviews of movies playing throughout the Tampa Bay area

Share on Nextdoor
click to enlarge KINSEY - Ken Regan/Camera 5
Ken Regan/Camera 5


STRAIGHT JACKET (NR) Not to be confused with the old Joan Crawford camp classic about the battle-axe with the axe. This contemporary Straight Jacket lacks Mommie Dearest and has nothing to do with murderous psychos, be they carrying large sharp tools or otherwise — although it might well have benefited from some. Directed by Richard Day, creator of the wonderfully raunchy Girls Will Be Girls, this bright-eyed but not very funny comedy stars Matt Letscher as a Rock Hudson-esque '50s matinee idol attempting to hide his gayness from the rest of Hollywood and the general public by getting hitched to a ditzy blonde bimbette (Carrie Preston). The ruse marriage is in trouble from the get-go, of course, but major complications set in when our hero falls for a cute male co-worker (Adam Greer). It's all pretty much as sitcom-like as it sounds, and the campy attitude and candy-colored sets don't begin to make up for the lame jokes and terrible acting. Also stars Veronica Cartwright. Opens Jan. 7 at local theaters.

WHITE NOISE (PG-13) Sounds like a supernatural thriller of the week, in which a dead person and a surviving spouse attempt to communicate with each other across the void. A long missing-in-action Michael Keaton stars, but don't expect too much. The studio isn't screening this one for critics until it's too late for most deadlines, which is never actually a good sign. Also stars Deborah Unger. Opens Jan. 7 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)


AFTER THE SUNSET (PG-13) Although there are worse ways to while away 90-some minutes, After the Sunset isn't really exciting or original enough to engage us as a heist movie, and it's not funny enough to succeed as a comedy. Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek are retired jewel thieves playing elaborately pointless cat-and-mouse games with FBI agent Woody Harrelson while they consider that inevitable one last heist. Also stars Don Cheadle. 1/2

ALEXANDER (R) Oliver Stone's three-hour biopic of Alexander the Great is, at best, a curiously uninvolving affair. There are lots of long, boring speeches; hokey dialogue; an unintentionally silly melange of accents (from Irish brogues to faux-Slavic); a couple of extended battle scenes where the cry of "Glory!" becomes a four-syllable word; a horribly manipulative soundtrack (courtesy of Vangelis); and a narrator who tells us about key events in the hero's life so that we don't have to actually witness them for ourselves. Colin Farrell makes a surprisingly lackluster Alexander, playing the great conqueror as a whiny, poofy-haired surfer dude with mother issues and an eye for the boys. In place of his usual conspiracy theories and cinematic provocations, Stone layers in heaping helpings of pop psychology, mainly manifested by Angelina Jolie as Alexander's dominating, guilt-tripping, weirdly sensualized mother (she does some interesting things with snakes, too). Also stars Val Kilmer, Anthony Hopkins, Jared Leto and Christopher Plummer.

THE AVIATOR (PG-13) Martin Scorsese's biopic about Howard Hughes — businessman, adventurer, inventor, visionary, playboy, recluse and raving nut-job — the quintessential American. The Aviator crams an awful lot of history into its nearly three-hour running time, but the core of the movie eyeballs the obsessive personality that would allow Hughes to become a master of the world and then eventually transform him into a brittle paranoic, paralyzed by everything he felt was beyond his control. And while Leonardo DiCaprio doesn't quite have the gravitas to pull off this sort of role, you do get used to him after the first half hour or so. The film begins in the 1920s with Hughes' flirtation with Hollywood, segueing into his affairs with the likes of Katherine Hepburn (an uncanny impersonation by Cate Blanchette) and Ava Gardner (a lightweight Kate Beckinsale), his outrageous financial triumphs and his steady surrender to his delusions. The Aviator covers a lot of other ground, too, and the question becomes how could one film do justice to this life. The answer, of course, is that it can't. But Scorsese has given us a big, muscular epic that, while not ranking with his very best work, is at least two films in one, both good enough to ensure that one of those nice, shiny statues will soon be residing on the director's mantelpiece 1/2

BEING JULIA (NR) "Luminous" is a word that film critics tend to overuse when describing beautiful actresses lighting up the screen, beautifully, but hardly any other word will do for Annette Bening's career-topping performance here. The film itself is lushly mounted but otherwise pretty standard stuff — Bening plays an aging diva in 1930s London, engaged in a clandestine affair with a younger man — but Bening herself is on screen nearly every moment, and it's impossible to take our eyes off her. Director Istvan Szabo (Mephisto, Sunshine) invests the material with an appealingly light touch, lovely visual flourishes and as much wit as we might expect in what is essentially a pretty dull story. The film becomes better during a last act that manufactures some All About Eve-like backstage intrigue and runs with it, but the real reason to see the film is Bening, who is extraordinary. Also stars Jeremy Irons, Juliet Stevens and Michael Gambon. Currently playing at burns Court Cinemas. Call to confirm. 1/2

Scroll to read more Events & Film articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.