Short reviews of movies playing throughout the Tampa Bay area

click to enlarge SPANGLISH - Bob Marshak/Columbia Pictures SPANGLISH
Bob Marshak/Columbia Pictures SPANGLISH


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

BEYOND THE SEA (PG-13) Kevin Spacey's well-intentioned but seriously bungled biopic about Bobby Darin nails the singer's voice, his stage mannerisms and his act, but gets almost everything else wrong. The movie takes one of those warmed-over Dennis Potter-esque approaches, à la All That Jazz and De-Lovely, where the characters step outside the action to comment on it and take us on a guided tour of their lives while conversing with younger versions of themselves. The poor man's pomo trappings fall particularly flat here, a lame attempt to disguise the movie's shallow and crushingly uninspired adherence to standard biopic formulas as it trudges along from one episode in Darin's life to the next. Bobby Darin was actually a pretty interesting guy, an ambitious chameleon with a complicated relationship to the whole hipster/lounge music phenomenon that, for many, defined him — not that you'd know it from this movie. The music is pretty happening, though, and a couple of the Vegas show recreations are almost worth sticking around for. Also stars Kate Bosworth, Brenda Blethyn, Bob Hoskins and John Goodman. Currently playing at burns Court Cinemas. Call to confirm.

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.