Tampa Theatre celebrates International Women’s Day all week with two movies about fantastic women, one a real-life trailblazer and the other a fictional Oscar winner.
Wait for Your Laugh(PG-13) is a sweet documentary on the show biz time capsule career of Rose Marie, who died in December at age 94. Known to millions as part of The Dick Van Dyke Show’s classic ensemble, Rose Marie was also a woman of firsts: a vaudeville child star before Shirley Temple, a one-name celebrity before Cher and Madonna were born.
Jason Wise’s documentary is packed with extraordinary footage of her journey through Las Vegas, Broadway, Hollywood and whistle stops in-between; it seems someone had a camera rolling at all times. Talking heads include Van Dyke and series creator Carl Reiner. Re-enactments of key scenes like mobsters Al Capone then Bugsy Siegel taking Rose Marie under his wing are necessary bio-doc evils.
Gloriously, uproariously, there’s Rose Marie herself, sharp and tart as ever with total recall of every juicy moment, every conversation. A portrait of an indefatigable entertainer emerges, restless when she wasn’t working and fearless when she was.
Wait for Your Laugh plays at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The final screening will be introduced by University of South Florida professor of women’s and gender studies Diane Price Herndl. B+
A FANTASTIC WOMAN
A Fantastic Woman (R) takes over Tampa Theatre starting Friday, hot off Sunday’s Academy Awards win for best foreign language film, a first for Chile. Transgender actor Daniela Vega is haunting in the title role, a restaurant server and nightclub singer named Marina Vidal whose well-to-do, older lover Orlando (Francisco Reyes) suddenly dies.
Marina’s grief is matched by the disdain of Orlando’s ex-wife, more for the other woman’s gender identity than infidelity. The family won’t allow Marina to pay last respects, their protests turning abusive. She’s determined to be there. Meanwhile, Marina’s gender also makes her suspect to police investigating Orlando’s death.
Director and co-writer Sebastian Lelio keeps the melodrama muted, allowing Vega’s expressive passivity to move viewers. She’s a tragically striking character, a face of abruptly lost love seldom seen in movies. Already a sketchy narrative, A Fantastic Woman veers off track when Daniela does, going glam and lurid with little else accomplished dramatically. Then, like her, the movie pulls itself back together with class. B
OPENING FRIDAY: A WRINKLE IN TIME
2018’s next multiplex-packer is bound to be A Wrinkle in Time (PG) based on Madeleine L’Engle’s novel, a touchstone of youth for many. Even those who haven’t read the book must be excited by the casting and phantasmagorical eye candy promised in trailers.
Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling star as space-traveling sorcerers helping a young girl (Storm Reid) find her missing scientist father (Chris Hemsworth).
THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT
Ten years in a long time to wait for any sequel but the audience for The Strangers: Prey At Night (R) don’t mind. Any home invasion horror yarn would suit them. This one’s a mobile home invasion yarn, set in a remote trailer park where a mad mom (Christina Hendricks, Mad Men) defends her family against a trio of masked killers. I can wait another 10 years.
David Oyelowo (Selma), plays a meek businessman dragged into a Mexican marijuana cartel in Gringo (R) co-starring Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton and Amanda Seyfried. It’s from Amazon Studios, so after this limited release it’ll be at your fingertips in no time.
THE HURRICANE HEIST
Rob Cohen’s crime thriller The Hurricane Heist (PG-13) just might beat Gringo to home video, or Redbox at least. Toby Kebbell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) leads high-tech criminals in robbing the U.S. Treasury as a Category 5 hurricane bears down. One of the crooks is nicknamed Breeze, get it?
in theaters: our Top 5
Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:
1Black Panther: Marvel’s latest superhero (Chadwick Boseman) is a cultural game changer.
2Annihilation: Alex Garland’s sci-fi bio-puzzle starring Natalie Portman.
3Red Sparrow: An unapologetically sexist, sadistic spy yarn starring Jennifer Lawrence, above.
4A Fantastic Woman: Daniela Vega fits that description. Opens Friday at Tampa Theatre.
5Early Man: Nick Park’s stop-motion clay animation style never gets old.
(Dates subject to change)
March 16: Tomb Raider; Love, Simon
March 23: Isle of Dogs; Pacific Rim: Uprising; Sherlock Gnomes; Midnight Sun; Unsane
March 30: Ready Player One
April 6: A Quiet Place; Blockers; You Were Never Really Here; Chappaquiddick
April 13: Overboard; Truth or Dare
April 20: Rampage; Super Troopers 2; Dolphins; Duck Duck Goose
April 27: Animal Crackers; Traffik