Friday, September 21, 2018
Movies

What’s in theaters this week: ‘Ready Player One,’ ‘The Death of Stalin,’ ‘Tyler Perry’s Acrimony’

INDIE FLICKS: THE DEATH OF STALIN

Despite its somber title, The Death of Stalin (R) is the year’s funniest movie so far, delivered by director/co-writer Armando Iannucci with the politically profane snarl he brought to HBO’s Veep and In the Loop. The subject is Stalin, the vibe is certainly Marx — Groucho, not Karl.

The titular demise in 1953 sets off a Kremlin power struggle between Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi) and secret police chief Lavrenti Beria (Simon Russell Beale) behind the bumbling back of deputy premier Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor). Stalin’s reign of terror leads to venomous desperation, sight-gag executions and too many deliciously snide asides to recall.

Based on a French comic book, The Death of Stalin has a historical spin so screwball that British accents and Buscemi’s Brookynese are the least of its accuracy issues. Iannucci and three co-writers weave a tale of fearful oppression and petty cloakroom intrigue, a satire of Pythonesque proportions underlined by Michael Palin delighting as Vyacheslav Molotov (like the cocktail).

Buscemi’s Khruschev isn’t that far from his Mr. Pink, which is half the humor in his performance. Tambor is comically on key yet his alleged sexual misbehavior gets in the way; nobody that bad should be so good. Best of show honors are shared by Beale and Jason Isaacs as preening Red Army field marshal Zhukov.

The Death of Stalin is explicit content music to the ears of comedy buffs, a torrent of gutter wordsmithery unleashed by a bawdy ensemble. Kind of like Veep with a hammer and sickle, smart, tart and daftly topical. A- (Veterans 24 in Tampa; Sundial 19 in St. Petersburg; Cinebistro at Hyde Park)

OPENING THURSDAY:

READY PLAYER ONE

Steven Spielberg makes an overdue return to popcorn movie-making with Ready Player One (PG-13), a fantasy barreling through virtual reality.

Tye Sheridan stars as Wade Watts, a VR game fanatic playing OASIS under the avatar Parzival with others worldwide. When the game’s inventor (Oscar winner Mark Rylance) dies, he bequeaths the game and its fortunes to whomever finds the "Easter egg" he left inside the game.

Olivia Cooke and Ben Mendelsohn co-star but the main attractions are those ’80s pop culture references peppering Ernest Cline’s novel and stoking Spielberg’s nostalgic creativity. Think Who Framed Roger Rabbit with more than just cartoon touchstones.

Read a review at tampabay.com/movies.

TYLER PERRY’S ACRIMONY

Hell hath no fury like Taraji P. Henson, right, scorned. She brings that Empire fire to Tyler Perry’s Acrimony (R), getting Glenn Close to killing a man who did her wrong. Henson plays Melinda, staying loyal to a straying husband (Lyriq Bent) until she snaps. She begins stalking him and his mistress; the flip side of Fatal Attraction. Henson going off might be fun, but as always Perry doesn’t offer screenings to many critics. Just those admiring his work, so not many.

GOD’S NOT DEAD: A LIGHT IN DARKNESS

After dropping $60 million into the box office collection plate, worshipers of 2014’s God’s Not Dead prayed for a sequel. In A Light in Darkness (PG), Pastor Dave (David A.R. White) suffers his church burned to the ground on a university campus. That’s enough reason for the godless administration to force the congregation off campus, while at the same time Pastor Dave is rehashing old beefs with his estranged brother (John Corbett). Pray for us all.

In theaters: our Top 5

Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:

1 Isle of Dogs: Go fetch Wes Anderson’s all-star animated treat. (Tampa Theatre) Read a review.

2 The Death of Stalin: Funniest political satire in years? Da.

3 Black Panther: Marvel’s latest superhero is a cultural game changer.

4 Annihilation: Alex Garland’s sci-fi bio-puzzle starring Natalie Portman.

5 Unsane: Steven Soderbergh makes a lurid thriller on a cellphone.

UPCOMING RELEASES

(Dates subject to change)

April 6: A Quiet Place; Blockers; The Miracle Season; You Were Never Really Here; Chappaquiddick; Finding Your Feet

April 11: Beirut

April 13: Overboard; Truth or Dare

April 20: Rampage; Super Troopers 2; Dolphins; Duck Duck Goose

April 27: Lean on Pete; Animal Crackers; Traffik

   
Comments
At 50, Clearwater's real-life superhero is hanging up his super suit

At 50, Clearwater's real-life superhero is hanging up his super suit

CLEARWATER — For two decades, Dale Pople patrolled the streets feeding the homeless, helping old people carry groceries, extinguishing a car fire. He wore a red, yellow and blue Spandex outfit with an SH emblem: "Super Hero." Now, Clearwater&...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Gilda Radner is remembered in her own words in the documentary ‘Love, Gilda’

Gilda Radner is remembered in her own words in the documentary ‘Love, Gilda’

With the aid of rare audio recordings, the late Saturday Night Live comic force Gilda Radner narrates the story of her life in the new documentary Love, Gilda, opening Friday at Tampa Theatre.But it wasn’t easy initially for director Lisa D’Apolito t...
Published: 09/20/18
What’s in theaters this week: ‘The House With a Clock in Its Walls,’ ‘Life Itself,’ locally filmed ‘The Favorite’

What’s in theaters this week: ‘The House With a Clock in Its Walls,’ ‘Life Itself,’ locally filmed ‘The Favorite’

NOW PLAYING: THE FAVORITEFilmed in Pinellas County, the faith-based movie The Favorite continues its run in local theaters this week. It follows two brothers (Matthew Fahey and Luke Bernard, who also co-wrote the screenplay based on his own life) rec...
Published: 09/19/18
‘Smokey and the Bandit’ returns to theaters today, honoring Burt Reynolds

‘Smokey and the Bandit’ returns to theaters today, honoring Burt Reynolds

For the next nine days, AMC Theaters will take you east bound and down once more as the late Burt Reynolds’ iconic 1977 film Smokey and the Bandit returns to theaters in the Tampa Bay area.The theater chain announced it will be bringing Bandit, Fred,...
Published: 09/12/18
What’s in theaters this week: ‘The Predator,’ ‘A Simple Favor,’ ‘White Boy Rick,’ ‘Unbroken’ sequel

What’s in theaters this week: ‘The Predator,’ ‘A Simple Favor,’ ‘White Boy Rick,’ ‘Unbroken’ sequel

OPENING FRIDAY: The Predator A young boy (Jacob Tremblay) inadvertently prompts the return to Earth of the now genetically enhanced killing creatures. With Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn and Sterling K. Brown. Direc...
Published: 09/12/18
Glenn Close is a six-time Oscar nominee. With ‘The Wife,’ she deserves to finally win.

Glenn Close is a six-time Oscar nominee. With ‘The Wife,’ she deserves to finally win.

When The Wife first appeared on the festival circuit last year, the call went up almost immediately: This, finally, might be the movie to win Glenn Close the Oscar that has eluded her over the course of six — count-’em — six nominations.The movie is ...
Published: 09/11/18
Burt Reynolds, who described Tampa as 'my other hometown,' dies at 82

Burt Reynolds, who described Tampa as 'my other hometown,' dies at 82

Burt Reynolds, whose blend of Southern-fried machismo and wise-guy playfulness launched his worldwide celebrity in the 1970s, first as a freewheeling chat-show guest, then as a nude centerfold in Cosmopolitan magazine and finally as a Hollywood actio...
Published: 09/06/18
Updated: 09/07/18
Oscars’ popular film award is postponed after backlash

Oscars’ popular film award is postponed after backlash

The organization that bestows the Academy Awards says it is suspending plans to award a new Oscar for popular films amid widespread backlash to the idea. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences says it will further study plans for the categor...
Updated one month ago
What’s in theaters this week: ‘Peppermint,’ ‘The Nun,’ ‘God Bless the Broken Road’

What’s in theaters this week: ‘Peppermint,’ ‘The Nun,’ ‘God Bless the Broken Road’

OPENING FRIDAY:THE NUNA troubled priest (Demian Bichir, above) and a novitiate sent by the Vatican to investigate a suicide and an abbey in Romania are confronted by the same malevolent force from The Conjuring 2. With Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, ...
Updated one month ago
What’s in theaters Labor Day weekend: ‘Operation Finale,’ ‘Searching,’ ‘Kin’

What’s in theaters Labor Day weekend: ‘Operation Finale,’ ‘Searching,’ ‘Kin’

NOW PLAYING: OPERATION FINALE Oscar Isaac plays an Israeli agent tasked with spiriting Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley, right) out of Argentina to stand trial for war crimes 15 years after World War II. The case was the subject of a...
Updated one month ago