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Five offbeat movie choices to get you away from the multiplex this week

By Steve Persall
Greg Sestero, left, and Tommy Wiseau in the 2003 movie "The Room." The making of the film is now chronicled in James Franco's new movie "The Disaster Artist." MUST CREDIT: Wiseau Films

Hollywood is backloading December, waiting for Star Wars: The Last Jedi to bring moviegoers back to multiplexes. After no major releases last week, only James Francoís The Disaster Artist is making any new impression at box offices this weekend. (Click here to read a review.)

Maybe itís a good time to cast your eyes elsewhere.

Tampa Bay is dotted with offbeat movie experiences, from recurrences like Eckerd Collegeís International Cinema Series to pop-ups like a punk documentary at a record store. Here are four movies nowhere near multiplexes in product or price, plus a stay-at-home suggestion.

STAY HOME IN THE ROOM

Before seeing The Disaster Artist, watching the terrible movie it celebrates couldnít hurt. Well, actually it does. Tommy Wiseauís The Room is truly one of the best worst movies ever made, as impossible to describe as it is to sit through. Regrettably, it isnít currently available on streaming services. You could buy a DVD on Amazon.com, but thatís $11 spent better elsewhere. If a friend offers to loan a copy, he is not a friend. You can find everything to know about The Room on YouTube, through compilations of favorite idiotic moments posted by fans. Bring your own spoon.

DONíT BREAK DOWN

Microgroove Records presents two screenings of the documentary Donít Break Down, reuniting the influential American punk band Jawbreaker, whose fans include Billie Joe Armstrong. The Green Day frontman is among the talking heads extolling Jawbreakerís virtues 11 years after the band dissolved. 7:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Microgroove Records, 4906 N Florida Ave., Tampa. $10.

ART IN THE CITY

Cranstan Cumberbatch has screened his drama Art in the City at various venues over the past year, spreading its message of homeless advocacy and homegrown filmmaking. Cumberbatch shares writing, directing and producing credits while starring as Art, a homeless veteran suffering from PTSD on St. Petersburgís streets. The cityís sights and culture are backdrops for his resurrection.


3 p.m. Saturday at the Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N in St. Petersburg. $15 at the door.

SUNSET CINEMA AT PIER 60

Bring blankets or low lawn chairs to Clearwater Beachís Pier 60 for free movies at 6 p.m. on a jumbo-sized screen. Fridayís selection is 2006ís Oscar winner Happy Feet (PG), the animated tale of a tap dancing penguin (voiced by Elijah Wood). Saturday brings Beauty and the Beast (PG), this yearís live-action version, not the Oscar-winning animated one. Now we need flesh-and-beak penguins to remake Happy Feet and the circle is complete.

ARTISTS AND MODELS ABROAD

The DalŪ Museum regularly screens idiosyncratic movies free of charge in its lobby theater. The latest is Artists and Models Abroad, a 1938 musical comedy starring Jack Benny and Joan Bennett, left, at 1 p.m. Saturday. What would Salvador DalŪ appreciate about this piece of Depression-era fluff? Probably the 20-minute fashion show sequence featuring avant garde designs by Schiaparelli, Lanvin, Patou, Paquin and for what itís worth, the House of Worth.

ALSO OPENING: JUST GETTING STARTED

Actually, there is another movie besides The Disaster Artist opening this weekend. Just Getting Started (PG-13) just isnít making a big deal about it.

Strange that a movie starring Academy Award winners Tommy Lee Jones and Morgan Freeman, both left, plus Rene Russo and the late Glenne Headly in her final film role can arrive so unceremoniously. Just Getting Started is written and directed by Ron Shelton of Bull Durham and White Men Canít Jump fame, making its timid marketing more puzzling.

The movie sounds like a pleasant diversion for the AARP crowd, an action comedy set in a golf course community about a retired FBI agent (Jones) and a federally protected witness (Freeman) eluding a mob hit. Midnight Run with hip replacements. Please, play through.

in theaters: our Top 5

Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:

1 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: One of 2017ís best films.

2 The Florida Project: Homeless children make their own magic in Disney Worldís shadow.

3 Lady Bird: Saoirse Ronan shines in Greta Gerwigís directing debut.

4 The Disaster Artist: James Franco celebrates the worst movie ever.

5 Last Flag Flying: Richard Linklaterís sequel of sorts to The Last Detail.

UPCOMING RELEASES

(Dates subject to change)

Dec. 15: Star Wars: The Last Jedi; The Shape of Water; Wonder Wheel; Ferdinand

Dec. 20: The Greatest Showman; Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle