Sunday, February 18, 2018
Things To Do

Movie Planner: Indie flicks 'Elvis & Nixon' and 'Miles Ahead' plus a David Bowie 'Labyrinth' tribute

 

INDIE FLICKS: ELVIS, NIXON, MILES & NINA

 

Purely by coincidence, a trio of biopics arrive Friday with varying approaches to recreating truth, each interesting in its own way.

The seductive Miles Ahead (R) is the most successfully ambitious, intended by its writer-director-star Don Cheadle to be as formless yet converging as one of Miles Davis' jazz trumpet excursions. Unlike most biopics, it doesn't cover Davis' entire life, but a creatively blocked period in the 1970s telling plenty.

Another mercurial musician gets a more conventionally flawed tribute in Nina (R), starring Zoe Saldana as soul singer and civil rights activist Nina Simone, whose estate protests the casting of lighter-skinned actor as the proudly Afrocrentric subject. Cynthia Mort's movie is more linear than Cheadle's, exposing its shallowness in reducing a complex legend to an addicted crank.

Then there's Elvis & Nixon (R), looking and sounding like neither of the other two biopics or one of its subjects. Michael Shannon is a terrific actor, but he doesn't pass muster as Elvis Presley circa 1970, with his lean features and reedy voice. Kevin Spacey is a much more accurate Richard Nixon, in Liza Johnson's cartoon conjecture of the true, bizarre meeting of a president and the King.

Considered together, these three movies form a Venn diagram of sorts, of creative license in telling someone's story. Cheadle's portrayal of Davis is a model of impersonation, affecting the musician's tobacco rasp and not faking the trumpet riffs. Spacey's Nixon is next-closest to its target, in a movie requiring only caricature. Saldana can sing like Simone, but undercuts the effect with her polished looks, the opposite of Shannon's gauntness not doing Elvis justice.

Miles Ahead rises above the rest on Cheadle's confident feature directing debut, establishing an indigo blue mood with surprising tonal shifts. More so than Nina, Miles Ahead views its subject's genius as unexplainable, yet makes that worth trying. Davis and Simone aren't as famous or funny as Elvis & Nixon, but inspire the better biopics. Grades: Miles Ahead B+, Nina B-, Elvis & Nixon C+

 

SPEAK-ALONG MOVIE: 'LABYRINTH'

 

Singing along karaoke-style with The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and Grease is old hat. Speaking along with Jim Henson's 1986 fairy tale Labyrinth? Now, that's a new one.

Tampa Theatre hosts the interactive event Sunday at 3 p.m., part of the venue's Family Favorites Classics series. Tickets are $12 and $10 for kids, including props to use during the movie.

Aside from the 30th anniversary of Labyrinth, the speak-along tour honors its star David Bowie, who died in January. Bowie plays Jareth the Goblin King, who kidnaps a boy, taunting his older sister (Jennifer Connelly) with a maze she must complete to save the child.

Can't say I've ever heard anyone quote Labyrinth, but Bowie's cheekily charismatic performance is worth seeing again.

 

In theaters: our Top 5

 

Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:

1 Miles Ahead: Writer-director-star Don Cheadle reveals music legend Miles Davis.

2 Demolition: No more interesting actor working today than Jake Gyllenhaal.

3 Midnight Special: Three-quarters great, the rest merely gripping.

4 Eye in the Sky: Antiterrorism military officer (Helen Mirren) conducts drone warfare.

5 10 Cloverfield Lane: Can John Goodman earn his first Oscar nod for a genre flick? Hope so.

 

UPCOMING RELEASES

 

(dates subject to change)

April 29: Keanu, Mother's Day, Ratchet & Clank and Same Kind of Different as Me

May 6: Captain America: Civil War

May 13: The Darkness, Free State of Jones, Money Monster and Kidnap

May 20: Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Angry Birds and The Nice Guys

May 27: X-Men: Apocalypse, Alice Through the Looking Glass and The Lobster

 

     
 
Comments

Monday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballWomen: Florida State at Duke6 p.m.ESPN2Miami at Notre Dame7 p.m.ESPN; 620-AMMaryland at Northwestern7 p.m.FS1Howard at N.C. Central7 p.m.ESPNUWomen: Georgia at Mississippi7 p.m.SECWomen: Syracuse at Pittsburgh7 p.m.Fox SunWomen...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Ordinary dogs take to the Derby Lane greyhound track for the Mutt Derby

Ordinary dogs take to the Derby Lane greyhound track for the Mutt Derby

Some stopped midway, some turned around and ran the wrong way and some dashed to the arms of their owners as more than 300 average house pets took to the track at Derby Lane on Sunday for the Mutt Derby. The popular fundraiser for the Jaycees died o...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Trumpeter is the highlight of a concert featuring ‘West Side Story’ themes

Trumpeter is the highlight of a concert featuring ‘West Side Story’ themes

TAMPA — Leonard Bernstein would have turned 100 this year. The Florida Orchestra performed two of his works Friday, the second of which paired the dances from West Side Story with the overture to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet.The orches...
Published: 02/17/18
Review: Kelsea Ballerini gets close to fans, digs into ‘Unapologetically’ at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Review: Kelsea Ballerini gets close to fans, digs into ‘Unapologetically’ at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Kelsea Ballerini has a story to tell. It's the story of the last three crazy years of her life, from a breakup to the Grammys to a marriage and all the "life, growing up, self-discovery" in between.If you heard her new album Unapologetically, it's a ...
Published: 02/17/18
Five things that make Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Volta’ different and fun

Five things that make Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Volta’ different and fun

TAMPA — Cirque du Soleil is back in town with a new show.The Montreal-based company always puts on an extravaganza, splashing around color with the abandon of a toddler playing with paint buckets and a storyline several layers deep, the artistic skel...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Feb. 17

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Feb. 17

Bay Area Renaissance Festival: Highland Fling: The 2018 festival runs weekends through March 25 in a time-travel village of kings, queens, jousting, jugglers, mimes, madrigals, archery contests and a human chess match. 10 a.m., Museum of Science and ...
Published: 02/16/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Feb. 18

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Feb. 18

Mutt Derby: Bring your non-aggressive dog for a day of dog races and other doggie games. Races will be done in weight divisions. All dogs racing must have proof of vaccinations. Greyhounds are welcome, but are not allowed to race. Benefits Greyhound ...
Published: 02/16/18
What to watch this weekend: ‘Everything Sucks!’ on Netflix, ‘Wreck-It-Ralph,’ ‘Star Trek’

What to watch this weekend: ‘Everything Sucks!’ on Netflix, ‘Wreck-It-Ralph,’ ‘Star Trek’

1996 MISFITS: EVERYTHING SUCKSAdd this one to your list if you were alive in the 1990s. Even if you weren't in high school, it's sure to bring back memories of Fruitopia, Oasis, flannel shirts and Alanis Morissette. Everything Sucks is a quirky comin...
Published: 02/16/18
Disney World announces June opening date for Toy Story Land

Disney World announces June opening date for Toy Story Land

Get ready for a playdate with Andy's toys. Disney World just announced the opening date for Toy Story Land. The area in Disney's Hollywood Studios is set to open June 30, just in time for the busy summer season, The Orlando park announced Friday on ...
Published: 02/16/18
‘Hello, Universe’ and ‘Wolf in the Snow’ top American Library Association awards for books for young readers

‘Hello, Universe’ and ‘Wolf in the Snow’ top American Library Association awards for books for young readers

The American Library Association announced its 2018 Youth Media Award winners Monday during its midwinter meeting in Denver.The annual awards honor books, video and audio for children and young adults and are highly regarded guides for booksellers, t...
Published: 02/16/18